The Houston Astros Fall in a Pitcher’s Duel


Scott Feldman (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

If you are a fan of offense, then tonight’s 1-0 game was not for you. But if you are a fan of suspenseful, nail biting baseball that certainly saw its share of quality pitching, then you were not ready for the game to end in the bottom of the 12th inning. That is also especially true since it ended with a loss for the Astros.

There is not much more that you can ask of Scott Feldman so far this season. After his third start of the year lowered his ERA to 0.44, you can say that the early returns on Jeff Luhnow’s big free agent addition have been more than positive.

Yes it is nit picking, but the only issue with Feldman’s performance tonight is that he only lasted seven innings throwing 105 pitches. Feldman allowed just two hits while walking four batters and striking out three. And after Feldman’s departure, that is when the pitcher’s dual ended and the stress began.

While Feldman was working his magic, Yu Darvish was having yet another successful start against the Astros.

For the first five innings, Darvish was perfect retiring 15 straight Astros. In all honesty, there was just not much they were able to do against the right-hander. Matt Dominguez led off the sixth inning with a single and Jose Altuve managed to work a two out walk in the seventh inning, and that was it.

In fact, all Houston managed for the rest of the game was another single by Dominguez in the eleventh inning and a walk each in the ninth and twelfth innings.

On the other hand, the sailing was not nearly as smooth for the Astros bullpen. Chad Qualls relieved Feldman for the eighth inning and despite a walk and a hit, emerged unscathed.

After Kevin Chapman struck out the first two batters in the ninth inning, it looked like he would be having his best outing of the season. Instead the lone left-hander in the bullpen allowed singles to Leonys Martin and Josh Wilson before a walk to Shin-Soo Choo loaded the bases. For the second straight night, Bo Porter called on Anthony Bass to get out of a jam, and once again he delivered.

Bass induced an inning ending ground ball from Elvis Andrus, and we embarked on bonus baseball.

At that point Brad Peacock took the ball, and the stress continued.

Three walks, one intentional, loaded the bases with no outs in the tenth inning and victory looked certain for Texas. At that point Marwin Gonzalez‘s versatility came in handy as he replaced Robbie Grossman in the outfield, but was also used as a fifth infielder. In the eleventh inning, Gonzalez moved to third base after L.J. Hoes pinch ran for Dominguez.

But Peacock, walked the tight rope and a force out at home, strike out, and ground out later he was out of the tenth inning. Choo singled and stole second with one out in the eleventh, but Peacock was able to escape without further damage.

In the twelfth, he was not as lucky. Kevin Kouzmanoff singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a Robinson Chirinos single.

Obviously, the Astros need to put together more than two hits, but they ran into great pitching performances tonight, especially from Darvish.