Posts Tagged ‘brett myers’
The cynical reaction to last night’s big Astros victory over the Rockies would be to suggest that we came out on firmly top in a match-up of Triple-A teams.
The Rockies sent out a lineup of anonymous characters but for journeyman and former Astros Ty Wigginton and sole electric presence Dexter Fowler. For once, at least, the Astros didn’t field the least experienced three-hole hitter, last night’s honor for unknown heart of the order hitter going to Colorado 2B Jordan Pacheco.
JB Shuck, who is likely as foreign to non-Houston fans as Pacheco and company, embraced the leadoff role against ineffective young pitcher Drew Pomeranz, a soft-throwing lefty who must conjure unpleasant memories of Denny Neagle for Rockies fans. Shuck’s three hits and a walk helped Angel Sanchez, JD Martinez, El Caballo, and Matt Downs to a serving of RBIs piled as high as a party platter from Goode Co. barbeque. With a 5-run first inning, the game was in hand early on, with the Astros stacking a few more of the 1s and 2s on as the game carried on. The end result was a flip-flop of the normal Houston role as doormat for the more experienced teams.
Brett Myers continues to try to sway me into giving a lick about his pitching, and I continue to consider his pitching extraneous and dull. Give me a Henry Sosa start any day, with the highs and lows of development and promise. An inning of Jordan Lyles in relief (see below) is more interesting than most Myers starts. It’s a harsh stance, but these are tough times to be an Astros fan, and certain limits must be set. I’m all for watching our young players struggle on some nights and thrive on others, but I can’t spend much time thinking about a player like Myers. Good on him for pitching as well as he can, but I’ll keep the hitters in the forefront of my attention on his days on the bump.
Elsewhere, in Victoryville…
Watching the highlights of the Brewers’ crazy NL Central clinching party last night–from Prince Fielder’s big bomb to Ryan Braun’s late-inning ding dong to the Cards-Cubs scoreboard watching–I was struck with the amount of excitement and momentum that a mid-market team can build. Not so long ago, the Astros were enjoying such tidal waves of emotion, when the less heralded baseball cities stick it to the old stalwarts. Nowadays in Space City it requires imagination to envision a return to mattering in such a way, but it is far from out of question. The Brewers are a fine example of the life cycle of a rising franchise, building from within until the time was right to gamble on a few key veteran puzzle pieces.
With the first pick in next year’s draft, the future should feature at least one glimmering possibility.
Jordan Lyles appeared as a relief pitcher, the first time I’ve seen him in the role (I missed his quick Cincinnati appearance). The results were sound; Lyles had the late life on his fastball that makes him effective, and which seemed to have faded as his big league innings accumulated.
Another rainy night in Pittsburgh: pitchers wore their sleeves and rain drops popped against the microphones for the second dreary night of baseball in a row. As foul balls fell into the nearly empty stands, this game between the Astros and the Pirates achieved a quietude that could be construed as either calmly Zen or deeply depressing, depending on your metaphysical tendencies. With so few fans in the stands even the mildest meditation met with interruption when the strange barks from the desperate Pittsburgh few were isolated and enhanced enough to jolt the peaceful Astro fan from a meditation on the nature of wins and losses.
In the middle of such a losing season, every pitch and every swing is self-contained; it exists within the controlled confines of the inconsequential, constrained by the boundaries of the mathematically impossible. The balance of the game, then, is not between wins and losses, but between the player and the audience. Because the results of the game are meaningless, only the witnessing of the event brings it to life. The baseball game only exists if I see it; its impact is momentary and fleeting, like the flicker of a late summer firefly in a dark field.
There’s beauty in the flicker, of course. Jimmy Paredes and his scrambles around the basepaths (see below), Jose Altuve cloaking a grin after flipping the ball across his body deep in the hole, Mark Melancon closing out a game with little incident like a pro. These are the micro-moments that flash and vaporize for those of us training our eyes on the empty evening meadow.
I’m not including Brett Myers on this list of friendly flickers because, frankly, I have no interest in what he does. An aberration in the plan and an unremarkable stylist, I’d rather watch the hitters he faces than focus on he himself. My Brett Myers show was over before it began, and he has done nothing to convince me to put it back on the air.
Tonight’s was a good win, against a division opponent in adverse and even tedious circumstances. To win a game with J.B. Shuck in the three-hole is itself a minor miracle. As night falls on the long day of this season, we could do worse than a quiet win to breathe the promise of the new dawn around the bend.
The Art of the Dart
Brett Myers could make an argument, but really Jimmy Paredes owned this 4 to 1 win. Three hits in four at bats, two runs scored, an RBI. Let’s take a look, step-by-step, at the art of the Dominican Dart.
Top 2: Paredes sprints hard to beat out the last half of what should have been an easy double play ball. The Dart then darted from 1st to home on a double by Humberto Quintero.
Top 4: Paredes beats out an infield single.
Top 7: After a long at bat full of foul balls, Paredes strikes a low fastball to right center for a single. Only a weird, wild, remarkable scoop, flip, and tag by Pirates pitcher Lincoln to catcher Doumit keeps the Dart from scoring on a safety squeeze by Brett Myers.
Top 9: Paredes drills a hard line drive towards the gap in left center field. Andrew McCutchen accelerated towards the ball improbably, then actually overran it and took the ball off of the heel of his hand. As it was, the Dart earned a pretty well-deserved double to elevate his status as the game’s only interesting player. Q drove the Dart home again. 4-1 lead, and that is your ballgame.
This season is stamped in tin: there will be nothing after game number 162. (In fact, ‘Duk at Big League Stew confirmed that the Astros have been eliminated mathematically.) As Brett Myers gave up hit after hit in the bottom of the first inning, I couldn’t help but think that he was just making sure we Houston Astros fans didn’t get ahead of ourselves. For all of the excitement and mystery that the young Astros like Jimmy Paredes, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Altuve lend to the game, Myers was there to say: “Hold on, now, we’re still a godawful team. As a gentle reminder of my contract status and our position in the standings, I’m gonna huck some sad, lifeless sliders at the top of the strike zone to some of the game’s more dynamic young hitters. Aaaaaand…my work here is done.”
A thirty-seven run first inning sealed this one up early, and besides some nice Rockie-watching and a few J.D. shots, this game featured a mid-game drought to challenge the rainless wasteland that is the state of Texas currently. Only a Matt Downs nine iron home run in a too-little-too-late ninth inning ruffled the sails a sketch before the sad voyage came to an end.
The Colorado Rockies are among the teams that I haven’t watched much despite hearing about them on a pretty regular basis. Fine players like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are hazy for me in terms of the cuts of their respective jibs. The odd little series under their fine Colorado skies is just the sort of taste of obscured talent to freshen up a tough season, and a tough loss.
CarGo impressed on Monday night, with a booming home run to right field off of a low Brett Myers breaking ball and another double to boot, is a big, imposing hitter, whose swing reminds me of Larry Walker’s in the that he stays low and meets the ball way out in front of the plate. It’s hard to believe the big fellow can run, too.
Tulowitzki was not in the height of his form, conversely. Perhaps the dramatic vistas over the rim of Coors Field mesmerized him, because he couldn’t see even the mediocre sliders last night. His power is apparent even when he swings violently and misses. His stance is kinetic, and impatient, as though he can’t wait to tear into something. I’ll admit, in a loss such as the Astros endured last night, I wouldn’t have minded seeing the best hitting shortstop in baseball send one a couple of four hundred feet closer to the Rockies.
Dexter Fowler, the rangy prospect slowly turning into a major leaguer, swings the bat like an exuberant Little Leaguer. I slot him firmly into the Jimmy Paredes style category. We’ll call them The Exuberants for now.
Todd Helton, the old grizzly, reminds me deeply of Will Clark in swing and aura. Clark felt, to me, like he was 39 every day of his career. Helton is actually 39, but he can still hit like Clark.
Jordan Schafer’s Astros Debut
In Jordan Schafer’s first at bat with the Astros, he rolled over a foul ball and struck out looking on a questionable high fastball. Not much to work with in terms of getting a sense of his style, but from the way he holds his hands close to the body, he suggests the composure of a slap hitter. In his second at bat, Schafer hit into a pretty standard double play grounder. A few more easy groundouts followed, and Schafer’s debut did little to take the sting out of the loss of Michael Bourn, who appeared in the highlights the other day crashing into the wall while making a fine catch in center field.
A Modest Jhoulys Chacin Scouting Report
I’ve never seen Jhoulys Chacin pitch before. He’s of the type that is praised by fantasy baseball bargain hunters for his strikeout rate and consistency under the radar, so I wasn’t surprised to watch him fool Astros hitters and present a steamer trunk full of above average stuff.
The most visible article is his hard sinker, a 92-93 mph heavy ball that he was able to start at the bottom of the strike zone, so that by the time it arrived at home plate it was around shin level and unhittable. He complemented the hard stuff with a tough straight change-up. But the sinker is the bread and butter. Sinker ballers with such drastic action on their fastballs have a certain leeway that pitchers with straighter heat don’t. Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez is probably the prime example of the sinker ballers cushion. His control, while certainly above average, is hardly Maddux-esque. Instead he lets the natural–and insane–movement on his pitches do the the hard work, essentially starting his best pitches around the middle of the strike zone and letting them dart around like he was releasing baby seals back into the wild.
Astrosphere (aka links from the online Astros community):
Someone is Coming Up at Astros County, on who will be pitching this Thursday
The work of a young Marvin Zindler, crime photographey at Bill McCurdy’s Pecan Park Eagle
Carlos Lee: Elite Defender? at Crawfish Boxes
Carlos Marmol didn’t know what to throw. In the bottom of the ninth inning, down by three with the bases loaded, the Cubs erstwhile closer blew a few fastballs past pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic, then fooled him with some sliders. With the count at 2-2, Marmol threw him another fastball. The bases were loaded and the Cubs were up by three when Bogusevic started his workmanlike swing. When the ball bounced of the standing room only seats near the gas pump, Bogusevic was nearly skipping around the bases, and when he crossed the plate the game was over. Astros win.
I only got to the game in the sixth, with a belly full of fajitas from the original Ninfa’s on Navigation1. I settled in to watch the game around about the sixth with little information and a satiated appetite that had an amazing effect on my overall optimism. I soon learned that both Ryan Dempster and Brett Myers had pitched their way into that inning, though Dempster’s Cubs held the 4 to 1 advantage.
Not a dissimilar proceeding from last night’s 4-3 result, but for the relative experience of the game’s starters. Experience, for the pitcher, is probably one of the most subtle, yet most impressive aspects of the game of baseball. That a pitcher who has lost many miles per hour off of his fastball can continue to pitch well is a testament to the importance of deception as well as power. Dempster loses very few pitches to the middle of the plate, and all of his pitches wrinkle or shimmy away from the plate. Don’t get me wrong, he is not Greg Maddux. But the Dempster who came up throwing in the mid-90s is no more, and in his place is a spinner baller with a pitching motion to veil his stuff as long as possible. Speaking of which, the glove twitch the Dempster started a few years ago to supposedly keep him from tipping his pitches must also lend him a cardsharp’s sense of security behind the distracting flutter of the unused hand.
Dempster outlasted Myers by a few hitters, and in the top of the 8th, Myers’ replacement Wilton Lopez gave up a couple of ringing shots to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena. A hanging slider inside to the former, who homered to bring the Cub lead back to 3 and cancel out the effort of Shuck, who scored after hitting his own double in the previous half inning.
In the bottom of the 9th, JB Shuck ignited yet another rally, this time with a single through the right side off of Carlos Marmol. He took second base on a passed ball from Marmol with Barmes up. Barmes would single himself, and provide Matt Downs with a chance to tie the game with a swing. “Hang a slider, hit one into the seats, and we’re tied,” said Jim Deshaies. “It’s that easy.” Downs swung at and missed a couple of hittable sliders, then took a walk from the wild Marmol. He passed the work down to Brian Bogusevic.
Bogusevic has a soft spot for dead center field, where both of his major league home runs have fallen.
More Heat from Wood
Kerry Wood, slimmer than he was when he struck out Derek Bell and others 20 times a million years ago, pitches with both experience and power. Well aged composure with a hard, straight fastball and calm, devastating slider to match. It’s true that the Astros can’t hit anybody these days, but at least Kerry Wood in his several appearances seems to quash every Astros effort at a rally legitimately rather than by default.
I didn’t see much of the game, as I noted above, but in the innings I saw, JB Shuck flashed his Mattingly-esque crouched lefty swing and hit a long double and a . Shuck doesn’t look to hit many home runs, but sound fundamentals suggest he could manage a late-Erstad-like presence at the plate if given 50 percent of an opportunity.
- For what it’s worth, the fajitas lack some X factor that used to keep them up there in my top five dishes of all time. Now they’d be lucky to crack the top fifteen. ↩
- 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins
Before tonight, I had yet to watch Brett Myers pitch a whole game, and my fear was that I haven’t missed much. Even as he excelled last year, he exuded mediocrity. Knowing nothing of his arsenal, Myers seemed like a conglomeration of attributes ranging from banal to repulsive, from his bad facial hair to the despicable domestic violence incident that mars his past. I’ll be honest. I still don’t care for him. He’s a boring pitcher to watch, with little future as a winner or even an average pitcher, and he’s signed for a few more years. I suppose I may have missed out on some of his Swisher-esque goofy antics over the last year, but my instinct is that I’d find it tedious.
Myers pitched for the home team tonight, against the not-sterling Marlins, so I was ready to see where my perception met his reality. The reality fell firmly on the side of my perception. In the first inning, Myers walked a man, then beaned another with an 88-mph smoker, which later allowed a Marlin to jog home on a Hanley Ramirez nubber. An inning later, Myers gave up a homer to John Buck. By the time it was all done, after a miserable fifth inning of walks and errors and a triple, my imaginings of the Brett Myers experience seemed dully accurate. He throws the aforementioned mediocre heater, and chases that with heavy effort breaking pitches, by which I mean he seems to really urge his curves and sliders to break, like he was throwing a heavier than normal baseball. But the biggest problem for Myers is his margin of error, or I should its absence. A straight 88 mph fastball that moves out over the plate is what big league hitters call a John Buck home run.
Myers allowed six runs in his five innings of work. There were a few errors, a few more nubbers. Some easy runs, but runs nonetheless, and a lot of them.
On the offensive side, the Astros were unable to crack the mystery that is Ricky Nolasco and his low curveball, which they flailed out with great regularity. Beyond that particular pitch, it’s hard to say what it was about Nolasco’s dealings that limited the Astros so effectively. He has a normal enough fastball, a decent change-up, pretty good control, and yada yada. Lots of pop-ups from the Astros, a few rally-killing double plays. Astros baseball, I’m really basking in your blandness now.
- Chris Johnson hit well tonight, showing a solid swing that, were I to judge him on this game alone, would suggest that he was carrying through last year’s form.
- Last year, when I wrote about the Mariners in depth, they were one of the worst teams in baseball. The vibe around there was similar: that every lead was a loss, that the timing was always off and any success was wasted. And it was true, but this year the team has hovered around .500 and given fans up there some hope. Unless you’re the Pirates, it doesn’t have to take long to turn a team around. And even the Pirates are righting the ship!
- Wilton Lopez throws a lot harder than I thought. He’s working in the 93 range. This guy is more fun than just his trademark amazing control would suggest.
- I hope that Michael Bourn watches tape of Ichiro Suzuki at the plate. The two are stylistically related (if anyone could be considered similar to Ichiro’s unique game), from their raw speed to the easy move from swing into sprint down the first base line. The TV broadcast captured a few frames of Bourn in silhouette as he ran to first base on a drag bunt. He moved like he was charged up with lightning.