Josh Fields (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Yes, if you are looking at the box score, Josh Fields is responsible for the loss. He blew the game. That seems simple enough as the Astros lost 5-3.
Fields entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to face Robinson Cano and the heart of the Seattle Mariners order. Houston’s newly appointed closer was pitching for the third straight game and did not have any success.
His first pitch to Cano was a curve ball that badly misfired. Cano then singled which was followed by a single from clean up hitter Corey Hart. After striking out Justin Smoak for the first out of the inning, Kyle Seager then came to the plate.
Prior to this point, Seager was Seattle’s lone source of offense on the afternoon.
Jarred Cosart got the start today for the Astros and he quickly made up for his outing this past Saturday in Oakland. Cosart had a plan of attack today, and that involved relying more heavily on his curve ball and mixing it quite well with his fastball. While he needed 104 pitches to get through 6.2 innings, 73 were strikes.
Cosart kept the Mariners off the scoreboard for the first six innings, and didn’t allow his first hit until the fourth inning. On the afternoon he kept Seattle to four hits and three walks while striking out four batters.
The Astros got on the board first in the third inning. Matt Dominguez led off the inning with a walk and then Dexter Fowler‘s two out walk set the stage for Jason Castro. The Astros catcher doubled into right field to put the Astros up 2-0. Chris Carter then hit a home run in the seventh inning, his second in as many games, to give Houston an insurance run. After getting the day off on Monday, it looks like Carter might be getting back on track.
The shutout stood until the bottom of the seventh inning. Smoak singled with one out and then Seager hit a home run to bring the Mariners to within a run. And then Bo Porter‘s nightly bullpen mismanagement began.
Instead of letting Cosart finish the inning, there were two outs, and end the inning on a high note, Porter rushed to remove him for Raul Valdes. Now why Valdes you ask? There is only one answer, it is because he is a lefty and so is Dustin Ackley who was on deck.
I’m all for playing the matchups, but there also is the issue of overkill. Porter continues to manage scared and make moves that seem to be more reactionary than based on managerial intuition.
Chad Qualls had a perfect eighth inning striking out two batters, and then it was time for Fields.
I understand, it is is the ninth inning and a save situation, so that is when the closer pitches. But not when you have an inexperienced closer who is pitching for the third straight day. Seager hit a no doubt blast for his second home run of the game, and that was it.
Cosart deserved better, it is that simple. Losses like this are tough for everyone to handle.