Matt Dominguez (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
For the first eight innings of this afternoon’s game, you could not have drawn up a better outcome. Jason Castro returned, Scott Feldman was dealing, and the Astros were well on their way to righting the ship after losing three straight games.
Despite a stressful ninth inning, it was still a very good day for the Astros as they defeated the LA Angels by a score of 7-4 to improve to 3-3 on the season. In fact, you could argue that it was Houston’s most complete game of this young season.
With Dexter Fowler still on the mend, Jonathan Villar got the start in the lead off spot this afternoon and made his presence felt right away. After being hit by a pitch to start the game, Villar stole second base and then scored on a Castro home run to get the afternoon off to a good start. Villar then closed out the scoring with a two run 7th inning home run which scored L.J. Hoes. On the season, the shortstop is now batting .294.
Matt Dominguez hit the second of Houston’s five home runs in the third inning off Angels’ ace Jered Weaver who gave up five runs in his 5.2 innings of work. Jesus Guzman extended Houston’s lead to 4-0 with a fourth inning shot giving Feldman plenty of run support.
At the risk of hyperbole, Feldman so far is more than living up to his contract. He shut down an Angels team that Lucas Harrell, Jerome Williams, and Dallas Keuchel were unable to even slow down over the last two days. Feldman does not have exceptional stuff or throw incredibly hard, but he knows how to pitch.
The right-hander continues to get ahead of hitters and keep the ball on the ground as he improved to 2-0 on the year. On the season Feldman’s ERA is now 0.66 and this afternoon he allowed just three hits and two walks in seven innings getting 12 outs via the ground ball.
Anthony Bass came in and pitched a scoreless eighth inning before getting into trouble in the ninth inning. Three runs were charged to Bass, including one which was an inherited run allowed after Chad Qualls entered. With runners on base, it was a save opportunity for Qualls who ultimately got out of the jam to close out the victory.
Even though the impression was that Josh Fields was the closer, it does make sense to see Qualls get the save chance in a pressure situation and runners on base. For one thing though, it is nice to see a reliever come in and actually get the job done.