It was looking so good for Jordan Zimmermann, it really was. But this time it wasn’t his fault.
Dallas Keuchel hadn't started a game in eight weeks, and the rust was evident right off the bat with three walks in the first three innings. When you’re facing a rusty ace like Keuchel, you have to take advantage, and Nicholas Castellanos did just that. In the bottom of the second he hit a three-run homer, after Dixon Machado walked and Ian Kinsler doubled, to put the Detroit Tigers up 3-1.
Josh Reddick's second sacrifice fly of the game put the score at 3-2 Tigers in the third. Detroit looked to add on in the bottom of the inning with a pair of singles by James McCann and Andrew Romine, but Machado lined out to end the threat.
Keuchel's night ended after just three innings, as the Astros are easing him back into the rotation. Brad Peacock replaced him, had a 1-2-3 fourth, and then gave up a leadoff home run to Miguel Cabrera on the first pitch of the fifth inning.
Jordan Zimmermann settled down quite nicely in the middle of the game, setting down 10 of 11 batters, until Marwin Gonzalez smoked a line drive into the right field seats in the sixth to pull the Astros within a run. Zimmermann was efficient, though: It only took him 80 pitches to get through his seven innings of work.
Peacock’s fourth inning of work, the seventh, saw him give up a two-out walk to Mikie Mahtook. Victor Martinez’s single to right pushed up the speedy Mahtook, and as soon as third base coach Dave Clark saw that the throw was coming lazily into second, Clark windmilled Mahtook home to put the Tigers up 5-3.
Because it was the eighth inning, Brad Ausmus went to his bullpen despite how nicely his starter was cruising along. Bruce Rondon came on and, unfortunately, did his best Bruce Rondon impression: Seven pitches into the inning saw two singles and a long home run by Reddick to give the Astros a one-run lead.
Ken Giles pitched the ninth for the Astros, and he’s been nails since early June. This outing was no exception.
Jordan Zimmermann: His final line was seven innings, six hits, three runs, two stikeouts, and 80 pitches (61 for strikes). A solid, efficient start like that is just what the doctor ordered.
Nicholas Castellanos: Went 2-for-5 with a 3-run home run — that’s an automatic roar.
Tiger relief pitchers not named Bruce: Daniel Stumpf and Shane Greene pitched 1 2⁄3 uneventful innings combined.
Bruce Rondon: See above. After this fiasco, his ERA is a sparkling 12.41.
Brad Ausmus: Yeah, that’s right, I gave him a hiss. Your starter is in a nice little groove, with a reasonable pitch count, and you yank him? For Bruce Rondon?! That’s just inexcusable.
Home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor: Two beauties, far off the plate, were called strikes. One against Ian Kinsler in the eighth and one against Justin Upton in the ninth. Bring on the robot umps, I say.
THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF JOSE ALTUVE
I looked into Jose Altuve's numbers this season, and they boggle the mind. I figured they deserved their own section in the recap. All stats are before the game started — with the night he had, those numbers improved even more.
- When he puts the first pitch in play, he is hitting .495 (45-for-91) with a 1.373 OPS.
- He's hitting .431, with a 1.204 OPS, on the road.
- In the month of July, he's hitting .494 with a 1.285 OPS.
I could go on, but I won't. You're welcome.
Other, slightly less interesting stats
- The Astros are hitting .292 with a .858 OPS as a team; the next closest team in both categories, the Yankees, is hitting .264 with a .785 OPS. Wow.
- Cabrera's home run was his 13th of the year, and yet only his second to left field.
- The word “eyeball” was invented by William Shakespeare.