It’s All Ballbearings These Days

Leave it to 1985 cinema classic, “Fletch” to capture the feeling of the Astros 6-3 loss to the Dodgers Saturday.  Anyone who stayed up with us until 1:01am CDT knows exactly what I’m talking about.  For those who lost the battle with the sandman, let me explain.

The Astros and Dodgers — two of the National League’s greatest surprises this year — engaged in an epic stare-down at Chavez Ravine.  The low-scoring, see-saw game sat tied, 3-3, in the ninth inning after 3 hours and 49 minutes of play. The teams combined to leave 22 men on base and didn’t exactly dazzle with runners in scoring position: they were 5-for-19 collectively.  With 31 runners roaming the bases, it made for a lot of stressful — or high-leverage — pitches.

How many? The teams conspired to use 11 pitchers who combined to throw a whopping 333 pitches.

PERSPECTIVE: Given the distance from the mound to the plate at 60 ft. 6 in., that means the clubs pitched the ball 20,146 ft. 6 in.  Translated, that’s the length of nearly 310 Jose Altuves or 3.815 miles.  (gulp).

I’d say it felt like the teams might play all night long, but they already had.  So maybe it seemed like they would just play forever; no end in sight.

“Sure, but uhhh, the end was very — very sudden.” –Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Once again we see life imitating art.  Hard to believe that it was 27 years ago when Fletch — a Los Angeles journalist — foreshadowed what we witnessed last night.  And let’s not quibble over the meaning of “art” here. The silver screen has given us “Rosebud,” “Frankly, my dear…” and this iconic scene:

Fittingly, Astros.com reporter AJ Carravell opened his game story with the following line. I haven’t asked, but I like to think it was a nod to the great Irwin Fletcher:

………………….

LOS ANGELES — The Astros’ four-game winning streak came to a sudden and disheartening halt Saturday night with a walk-off home run off the bat of Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis.

………………….

Sudden, indeed. Exactly 3 hours and 50 minutes into an agonizing contest of limited offensive display, Ellis took a 1-1 offering from Wilton Lopez and swatted it deep into the left field bleachers.  Dodgers Stadium fans were delirious. Maybe it was their exhaustion, maybe elation.

It all happened so suddenly, it was hard to tell.

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THINGS YOU’LL ONLY LEARN HERE, FWIW

• Lucas Harrell pulled off a rare feat in beating the Dodgers on Friday.  He threw 94 pitches, 64 of which were strikes in his 7.1 innings of work. He induced 17 groundballs. A fantastic effort.

What was amazing is that the Dodgers never swung through a pitch that night. Not a single one. They took 17 called strikes and fouled off 47 pitches.

Since 2000, only two pitchers have pitched that deep into a game — giving up one or fewer runs — without inducing a single swing and miss.  The list, according to our buddy Kevin Eschenfelder (who credits STATS Inc.):

April 28, 2002 – Scott Erickson, Bal  (9 IP vs. Royals)
July 19, 2003 – Darrell May, KC  (8 IP vs. Mariners)
May 28, 2007 – Steve Trachsel, Bal  (9 IP vs. Royals)

• I could be wrong, but it seems like the Dodgers foul off a lot of pitches. I certainly don’t know how or where to find that kind of data.  That said, I went back to count the first two games of the Astros series in LA.  I think these numbers are pretty interesting.

–Dodgers fouled off 53 pitches on Friday.  That’s 39.6% of the pitches they saw!

–Dodgers fouled off 41 pitches on Saturday; a more reasonable 24.3% of the pitches.

–So for the first two games, they’ve spoiled over 31% of Astros pitches.  That seems high to me.  Not sure how much meaning to ascribe to those numbers, but they interested me, anyway.

• This might be the weirdest one yet.  Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley simply would not let anyone else play last night.  He worked deep to every single Astros hitter and managed to rack up a few strikeouts along the way. When JD Martinez lined out to Andre Ethier to strand the bases loaded in the second inning, it was the first time in the game that a Dodgers position player figured into a putout (other than catcher AJ Ellis).  The play by Ethier occurred 45 minutes and four seconds after the first pitch of the game was delivered.

Wow.

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THANKS

Just want to say thanks to all of you who have visited and left comments.  I have lots of ideas for this blog and hope you’ll continue to enjoy it.  Please feel free to leave any suggestions on things you’d like to see/read/hear.  And spread the word!  The more the merrier here.

Follow me on twitter, too.  @daveraymond4

Cheers!

7 thoughts on “It’s All Ballbearings These Days

  1. I still remember the Astros vs. Dodgers game in 1989 that went 22 innings. I was working across the street at AstroWorld, and several of my co-workers caught the last few innings of the game after they got off work. It must be something about playing the Dodgers that brings out the long, drawn out games; I think that one took over 7 hours before the Astros finally won.

    • I was there at that game sitting with Art Howe’s family. Came back the next day for Sunday’s game and it was 13 innings I think!

  2. Great stuff, Dave. I’m so glad to see you’re embarrassing the electronic media. Always enjoy your work.

  3. Just wanted to say thanks to you, Brett and Milo from my mom who is almost 98 years old and almost completely blind. We got her an XM radio several years ago and she listens to all of the Astro games. It is so hard for her when the season ends. She can hadly wait for games to come back on. So thank you for bringing the game TO HER.

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