by Austro and Mr. Happy
Lucas Harrell faced off against Tim Lincecum Saturday evening in a battle of underrated starter vs. inexplicably ineffective starter.
Lincecum had to be thanking his lucky stars that he drew the Astros coming out of the break. The Astros did their part by going 1-2-3 in the first inning without seeing very many pitches. However, Harrell came out and matched Lincecum with some nice pitching to get the first three Giants, showing some really good movement on his pitches.
In the top of the second JD and CJ sandwiched a pair of singles around a foul pop-up, but Maxwell and Snyder struck out to end the threat. In the bottom, Posey led off with one of the more remarkable singles I’ve seen: Harrell got the ball in on his hands, or what would have been in on the hands of a normal person, but Posey was able to pull his hands in and through while letting the barrel of the bat trail, so that the ball actually hit the meaty part of the bat. It banana’ed out to center field, slicing from left to right. That was followed by a walk to Sandoval, but Harrell bore down and got a line drive to left and two groundouts to end the inning without any damage.
In the top of the third, Harrell and Schafer struck out (imagine that) before Altuve blooped a single into center. He then got his sprint workout in as Lowrie kept fouling off pitches with Altuve on the move. Lowrie finally put one in play, and for a moment it looked like it might make the LCF gap, but Cabrera got a good jump and made a nice running catch to end that half of the inning. Lincecum led off the bottom of the inning by striking out, Harrell once again showing good movement on his pitches. I really don’t understand why the White Sox released this guy, because he can pitch. Blanco singled into left, followed by Theriot flying out to Schafer in RCF.
Then came the most significant play of the game, and maybe the season. Cabrera grounded sharply up the middle, and Altuve showed good range to get to the ball. He flung it sidearm back to second base as continued out toward LF, and Lowrie had to act like a first baseman to take the throw, stretching with his right foot on the back of the bag. Blanco slid in hard and spiked Lowrie on the ankle, causing it to pronate, which in turn twisted Lowrie’s knee in an odd way. Lowrie immediately scrambled out of there and collapsed and had to be removed from the game, assisted from the field by the training staff because he couldn’t put any weight on the leg. The first reports from the clubhouse were of a sprained ankle, but there’s speculation (including a Levine tweet) that there’s a more significant knee injury that they’re not talking about yet. Bixler replaced Lowrie, and Harrell jammed Posey to get a 5-3 groundout that kept the game scoreless.
The Astros went down meekly in the top of the fourth, JD on a foul pop-up to Posey, Moore striking out, and CJ nubbing a ball down the first base line for a 1U put-out. Sandoval led off the bottom of the inning by flying out to RF on a busted bat. Pagan followed with a strikeout. Sanchez singled up the middle, just beyond Altuve’s reach, and then Crawford hit a chopper up the middle that Harrell made a nice play on for the final out 1-3.
Over to my tag-team recap buddy, Mr. Happy, for the second half of the game…
Tim Lincecum pitched like the Good Tim Lincecum tonight, striking out 11 in eight frames. However, with a 2-0 lead in the top of the ninth, a very wobbly Santiago Casilla gave up a two out double to Justin Maxwell, scoring Scott Moore, who had walked. Snyder came up and struck out on a 1-2 hammer in the dirt, but it kicked away from tonight’s Giants hero Hector Sanchez, who threw wide to first base, allowing Snyder to reach. Meanwhile, Maxwell had the windmill going and scored from second base on the strikeout to knot the score at 2.
When the Giants could do nothing in the bottom of the ninth inning, I knew right then and there that our gooses were cooked because, well, free baseball and Astros mix like oil and water. It was just a matter of what inning we’d lose and which pitcher would be on the bump when it happened. We played two innings of scoreless baseball in the tenth and eleventh innings, in which the one and only FeRod didn’t lose and also tossed a scoreless frame, so it was on the twelfth inning. The Astros could do very little in the twelfth, wasting a two out knock from former Giant Matt Downs. This takes us to Brett Myers, who was on to pitch the bottom of the twelfth.
In the twelfth, Kung Fu Panda led off with an infield single to Brian Bixler. Pagan followed that with a single to center field, moving the Panda to second base. Hector Sanchez then hit a deuce on the button to Altuve, who deflected it into right field, scoring the Panda when Downsie’s desperation throw was well over Snyder’s head, preserving the Astros’ perfect 0-9 record in extras.
Bad news for Astros organization shortstops as both Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Villar went down, Lowrie with an ankle/knee (more details sure to follow) and Villar the brilliant with a self-inflicted broken hand from hitting a door. One thing seems clear: The club needs Marwin Gonzalez in a big bad sort of way, as Brian Bixler, God bless him, leaves a lot to be desired at shortstop.
It doesn’t get any easier tomorrow, as we face Matt Cain. Bud Norris takes the mound for the Astros. I smell a broom.