Three numbers and the Astros use Nori Aoki as a pitcher
By Cody Poage
The Astros were clearly the team that was experiencing jet lag last night, not the Yankees.
While the Astros were busy sleeping the night before Friday, the Yankees were planning Houston’s demise from thousands of feet up in the air. Even into the wee hours of the morning, the Yankees were likely hard at work in determining the Astros weakness.
We may never know what weakness the Yankees discovered that night in the distant skies above Houston. But somehow they managed to slay the best team in baseball. Best team in terms of the win-loss record, anyway.
Or, maybe, last night’s 13-to-4 trouncing of baseball doing baseball-like things.
Either way, those dastardly Yankees strike again!
Believe it or not, but the Astros actually held a 3-to-1 lead going into the sixth inning. Starting pitcher Lance McCullers, though, wasn’t exactly cruising through the Yankees lineup. By the time of the sixth inning, that much was clear.
In turn, Hinch went with Michael Feliz to get Houston out of trouble. Usually reliable, the right-hander experienced perhaps his toughest outing of the season. Or at least top three. Five runs were allowed in the sixth inning when it was all said and done. The score was now 6-to-3. Not ideal, yet the Astros could come back.
But, wait, there’s more!
Reymin Guduan and James Hoyt tried to keep the game relatively close. Unfortunately, Guduan kept putting men on-base then Hoyt couldn’t resist his grand slam urge. And, no, it wasn’t of the Denny’s vareity. Four more runs total came across and the Astros were in the unenviable position of losing 10-to-3 after seven innings. Yikes.
Besides the final result, which wasn’t all that interesting anyway, the most interesting aspect of the game yesterday was Nori Aoki.
Well, let me clarify this point as Aoki, the hitter, doesn’t accomplish much at the plate to qualify as duly interesting. Instead, I want to concentrate Aoki, the pitcher. Crazy stuff, right?
For context sake, the Astros were trailing 10-to-4 in the top of the ninth. Instead of wasting pitches on another, likely tired, relief arm, manager A.J. Hinch decided to use Aoki as a pitcher to finish out the game. And were treated with a bevy of statistics and interesting information.
From my perspective, Aoki’s 77 MPH to Aaron Judge was something else. It’s not often you see that kind of result to hitter like that. The importance of timing, I guess.
Anyway, Aoki allowed three runs and the game was all but over for Houston in the bottom of the ninth. But the most impressive aspect was that Aoki got Judge to fly out. Sure, it was a heck of a fly ball.
But it is not often when the best hitter in baseball generate an out against a fellow position player. Baseball is awesome.
The 2017 MLB season is now officially halfway over for the Astros. And the Astros are 54-27. Let me repeat: 54 wins and 27 losses. This is an 108-win pace. Impressive, Astros, simply impressive.
But the last game will leave a bad taste in your mouth hopefully for just another few hours as the Astros play the Yankees again this evening. As a summary, though, here is everything you need to know about last night’s trouncing.
Next: Astros Countdown: Top Five Players to Watch in July
It’s a one-loss and the Astros will get over it. I hope you do too. And remember to keep the memory of Aoki getting Judge out in your hearts forever.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Savant and MLB.com**