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