Friday, February 6, 2015

Ringo bracket: Astros (87) defeat Pirates (87) in seven games

Game One: Astros 3, Pirates 0
WP: Ryan (1-0)
LP: Drabek (0-1)
Save: D Smith (1)
HR: Ashby (1)

Game Two: Pirates 4, Astros 3
WP: Dunne (1-0)
LP: M Scott (0-1)
Save: Gott (1)
HR: Bonilla (1), G Davis (1), Van Slyke (1)

Game Three: Pirates 3, Astros 2
WP: Fisher (1-0)
LP: Darwin (0-1)
Save: J Robinson (1)

Game Four: Astros 7, Pirates 4
WP: Deshaies (1-0)
LP: Walk (0-1)
Save: Knepper (1)
HR: Morrison (1), B Hatcher (1)

Game Five: Pirates 4, Astros 1
WP: Drabek (1-1)
LP: Ryan (1-1)
Save: Gott (2)
HR: Ray (1)

Game Six: Astros 13, Pirates 4
WP: M Scott (1-1)
LP: Dunne (0-1)
HR: G Davis (2), Bass (1), Morrison (2)

Game Seven: Astros 3, Pirates 2
WP: Knepper (1-0)
LP: Fisher (1-1)
Save: D Smith (2)

The Houston Astros outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates on the strength of its relief pitching and the bottom of the lineup.

Game One featured seven shutout innings by Nolan Ryan, followed by scoreless frames from bullpen mainstays Larry Andersen in the eighth and Dave Smith in the ninth. The big hit came from catcher Alan Ashby, who hit a two-run homer in the second off Doug Drabek. Shortstop Craig Reynolds scored the third Houston run after hitting a double.

The Pirates appeared to take control of the series with a pair of one-run wins in the next two games. Pittsburgh scored two runs in both the second and third innings of Game Two against Mike Scott, getting homers from Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke, and Mike Dunne allowed just two unearned runs in eight innings.

Game Three saw Pittsburgh take advantage of eight walks (and a hit batsman) by Danny Darwin. John Cangelosi drew four walks himself. He also stole a base and scored twice in the Pirates' 3-2 win.

Houston evened the series in Game Four, with eight-place hitter Reynolds popping two doubles and a triple. He also walked, scored twice and drove in one run. Seventh-place hitter Ashby had two hits, a ribbie of his own and a run scored. Jim Deshaies gave up two runs in the first but threw four scoreless after that, and Bob Knepper finished with three innings of one-run relief for the save -- the only run the Houston bullpen surrendered in the series. Barry Bonds, the Pittsburgh left fielder, committed a key error that accounted for three unearned runs.

The Astrodome portion of the series went Pittsburgh's way. Drabek held the Astros to one run in six innings, while the Pirates got to Ryan for three runs in the first, including a solo homer by Johnny Ray. The Ashby-Reynolds combination did go 5-for-7 with a walk, a double and the one Houston run.

The series then returned to Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, and the Astros romped in Game Six. A seven-run second inning, fueled by a costly error by first baseman Sid Bream, gave Scott plenty of cushion. Glenn Davis drove in six runs in the 13-4 rout, with a homer, a double, a single and a bases-loaded walk. Six of the eight runs scored off Dunne were unearned.

The decisive seventh game saw the Astros pull Knepper out of the bullpen. The lefty had made two relief appearances, allowing one run in five innings. In his Game Seven start, he followed the Deshaies formula: two runs in the first followed by four scoreless frames. The Astros chipped away at Brian Fisher for single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Knepper gave way to a trio of righties: Rocky Childress for the sixth, Andersen for the seventh and eighth, and Smith for the ninth.

The final frame came with some excitement. Smith fanned the first two hitters, but then walked pinch-hitter Cangelosi. Ray singled. Pinch-hitter Jose Lind then tested the range of shortstop Reynolds, who made the play to end the game and the series.

Davis had nine RBIs in the series, but six of them came in the Game Six rout. Ashby and Reynolds were the more valuable components. Ashby hit .360 with seven RBI and five runs. Reynolds hit .476 (10-for-21) with four doubles and a triple. Ashby and Reynolds are co-players of the series.

Pitcher availability: Scott can pitch in Game Two with the penalty, Game Three without. Knepper is eligible to relieve in Game Three,

Projected rotation: Ryan-Deshaies-Scott-Knepper or Darwin-(Ryan)-(Deshaies)-(Scott)

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