Derek Hollands electric first career start looked to be on cruise control for a while. The Astros decided it would be a good idea to go down 5-0, but the Rangers young left hander hung a changeup to Lance Berkman in the 5th with 2 men on that he deposited in the Gulf of Mexico to make it 5-3. He was fearless though. He knew what he needed to throw, but he didn't execute.
Here is the problem though. The Astros pitchers do one thing over and over…they pitch down. I'm not arguing against the practice of pitching down or down and away. What I'm arguing is that you have to be able to do SOMETHING else. Derek Holland was making his first career start and he was pitching. He trusts his defense and his stuff. He made his pitches. The Astros didn't.
I should have charted the pitches from the bullpen, but I didn't think about it. All I know is that when Paulino left the game I remember 2 pitches that got up. The first was a Jarrod Saltalamacchia homer. The second was Nelson Cruz's game winning blast, which I called as soon as I saw the pitch.
The Rangers offense hasn't been that great thus far this year. I know you don't want to put the ball in someones wheelhouse, but you have to pitch inside a little. Mike Young smashes balls to the opposite field. Josh Hamilton is hitting .240. Do I even need to point out that Hamilton is a lefty and they were giving him plenty of shots to hit opposite field homers to a shallow Minute Maid left field wall? He damn near dropped one over the wall too. Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler will run you to death when you put them on base. You have to have some guts to win games. Pitching away from contact is what has made the Rangers pitching terrible for almost 40 years. The Astros appear to want to replicate that futility.
If the Astros want to rechart the course of this season it's going to start with a new approach. Pitch to contact.
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Written by Josh Lile