On the ninth pitch of the 14th inning – the 188th offered by an overworked pitching staff – Astros hurlers could no longer withstand the weight on their backs. An anemic offense asked time and time again for its beat-up bullpen to hand it an opportunity to win an interminable game.
Six times it delivered, tossing a scoreless frame to present a tie game and three opportunities to win it. The Astros refused to reward their work.
A seventh time was not to be. Mike Moustakas pounded a two-run homer off Cionel Perez, beginning a three-run 14th inning that handed the Milwaukee Brewers a 6-3 win Wednesday night, completing four hours and 16 minutes of pitching mastery coupled with offensive malpractice.
In 14 innings, the Astros had five hits. One garnered extra bases. Until Jake Marisnick lined a one-out single through the left side in the 13th, Houston was held hitless for eight innings.
Marisnick advanced to second and got no further – the only Astro to reach scoring position after a three-run uprising in the fourth.
The futility wasted one of the greatest performances in the Astros’ 58-year existence and another awe-inspiring effort from ace righthander Justin Verlander.
Seven Astros pitchers struck out 24 Brewers, beating a franchise record set during a 15-inning, 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on May 31, 2003. Only two strikeouts were looking.
Verlander fanned a career-high 15 batters. Every Brewers starter punched out at least once while he worked. All strikeouts were swinging, just the fifth time since 2008 a major league starter produced at least 15 swinging strikeouts in a game.
His effort established a Minute Maid Park record for strikeouts by an Astros pitcher. Only Randy Johnson had struck out 15 and issued no walks in a start as an Astro.
Verlander and J.R. Richard are the only two Astros starters to record 15 strikeouts in a game and garner a no-decision. Richard threw 11 innings, struck out 15 and walked one during a 13-inning walk-off win over Cincinnati in 1979.
Verlander required just seven frames and 100 pitches. He allowed only four hits, but three were home runs.
Twenty-nine of Verlander’s 75 strikes generated swings and misses. He controlled the Brewers’ booming order with two pitches: his fearsome four-seam fastball and a devastating slider. He threw the two for all but 16 of his 100 pitches.
Nine of his 15 strikeouts concluded on the slider. Verlander threw 36 of them. Seventeen were swung on and missed. His four-seam fastball elicited 10 whiffs but was responsible for two of the home runs he yielded.
Verlander thrives high in the strike zone with his four-seam fastball. Contact made against him is almost always in the air. His propensity for home runs is unsurprising but, often, not harmful.
Of the 18 home runs Verlander has permitted this season, just two have been non-solo shots. All three Brewer bombs Wednesday arrived with no one on base. Ryan Braun ambushed a first-pitch four-seamer in the first, sending it atop the train tracks beyond left field for an early Milwaukee …read more
Source:: Daily times