Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Arizona Fall League Game 19 Eyewitness Report

Dustin is taking a day off as he basks in the glow of the Rockets season-opening win against the Lakers, but rest assured he will bring you all the fall and winter league action on his return tomorrow. In the meantime, Wallee Wright has you covered with his Eyewitness Report of a game featuring several of your Astros, including an excellent start by RHP Vince Velasquez.

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The game today was never in doubt but it was, nonetheless, oddly interesting … while the final suggests a wipeout, the game was within reach for the Desert Dogs until the bottom fell out in the sixth - Astros prospects, and there were two or three in the game through out, played a leading role from beginning to end.

Vincent Velasquez blew through the Desert Dog lineup 1-2-3 for the first three innings … he did a pretty damn good Nolan Ryan imitation in the process – ‘here it is, hit it if you can’, and they couldn’t. Bear in mind that these Desert Dogs were the team that blew up Vincent’s ERA with five runs on two homers in three innings on the fifteen of this month … if you don’t remember, no problem, because it was clear that Velasquez did – he was overpowering.

Then came the fourth … the leadoff batter walked on a questionable 3-1 ball call that also had Vincent shaking his throwing hand as if he’d torn a nail or popped a blister. The Chisox’ Tim Anderson, the next hitter, bounced Velasquez’s next pitch into the Desert Dog bullpen for a ground rule double that left runners on second and third with none out … a ground out plates one and a sac fly plates Anderson and Vincent’s eight-inning scoreless streak was history. But that was it for the Dogs in the fourth and fifth and Vincent lowered his ERA to an increasingly more respectable 4.85 … but Velasquez’s 0.92 WHIP and twelve strikeouts in thirteen innings of work tells the real story of his Fall League efforts.

The seventh inning brought Mitch Lambson to the mound … and Mitch did his job just as he has every time out – strangely. Lambson struck out the leadoff batter on three pitches, then got the next hitter to ground out … Mitch has faced thirty-three batters in his eight innings of work, striking out ten and walking six, but this was just the third batter retired by Lambson on a ground ball – very un-Astro like. He then walked the next batter, though there were two called balls that could have gone either way, before getting the final batter of the inning on strikeouts with just three pitches … another strange outing for Mitch, who now sits at 2.25 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, and would be even better if one of those fly balls hadn’t left the yard a few games back.

And then the Rafters turned the game over to our Astros Fall Star, Tyson Perez … and Tyson did what he has done for ten innings now – he made the rest of the game almost uneventful. The only blip in his two innings work was a beater to Rio Ruiz that was thrown away in a futile effort to keep Tim Anderson from picking up his third hit of the game … Anderson got a hit, and Ruiz an error as he advanced to second, but Perez got Corey Seager on a 2-2 fly ball to left to end the inning. In the ninth, Tyson needed only ten pitches to end the game … Perez has faced only thirty-seven batters in ten innings work, maintained his 0.00 ERA and now sports a 0.70 WHIP.

On the offensive side of the ledger, the Astros were just as active … Andrew Aplin started in centerfield and led off, where upon he promptly walked and scored the first run. He went on to get two hits and to drive in two runs in five plate at bats, and is now slashing (.350/.395/.500). Rio Ruiz was in his normal six spot, playing third again as usual, and picked up a hit, two walks and scored two runs … a pretty typical day for the young man slashing (.245/.383/.286).

The Rafters are 13-4-2 after this afternoon, and now lead the Mesa Solar Sox by four games in the AFL East … the Glendale Desert Dogs remained in first place in the AFL East at 8-9-1. Any combination of ten Rafter wins and Solar Sox losses will clinch the Rafters a spot in the AFL Championship game November 15 … a game that will be televised.

~ Wallee Wright ~

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