HOUSTON -- Astros pitchers walked 10 batters in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader and watched six of those batters score. It’s the kind of stuff that will keep manager Dusty Baker up at night wondering how his young pitching staff can throw more strikes and stay in the zone more competitively.
Starting pitcher Brandon Bielak -- one of six rookie pitchers to throw for Baker in Game 2 -- was on the mound long enough to walk only three batters. He couldn’t escape the first inning, giving up four runs, as the Angels took the nightcap at Minute Maid Park with a 12-5 victory.
“We have to cut down on our bases on balls,” Baker said. “It’s a lot more pitches, and the defense isn’t as sharp. It’s a total negative all the way around. We’ve just got to throw more strikes, but that’s what you get with young guys. Young guys, they would have been here a long time ago had they thrown strikes. You kind of have to live with it right now until we get all our guys back.”
Bielak, who gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on Saturday in San Diego, allowed six of the eight hitters he faced Tuesday to reach base, with four of them scoring. The Angels had a 6-0 lead before the Astros scored four times in the fifth, including a solo homer by Abraham Toro.
Bielak made his Major League debut this year and won his first two appearances in relief before moving to the rotation. He posted a 1.69 ERA in his first three starts, allowing three runs in 16 innings, before allowing 10 earned runs in two innings in his past two starts.
“They were sitting on the pitches, and I was nitpicking out there,” Bielak said. “I just wasn’t executing my plan. That’s what happens when I don’t do that.”
The Astros now must decide whether to keep Bielak in the rotation. At this point, there’s not a lot of starting-pitching depth with Jose Urquidy and Justin Verlander on the injured list, but the Astros could decide to use off-days on Wednesday and Thursday -- the result of schedule alterations for Hurricane Laura -- to skip Bielak’s next turn in the rotation.
“We haven’t even thought about it,” Baker said. “We didn’t have a whole bunch of options. How much faith do you have in somebody if they hit a rocky road and you just give up on them? You’ve got to remain positive, and hopefully he keeps positive and goes back to the drawing board.”
Baker was hoping to get two innings of Bielak, who had thrown 28 pitches only three days prior in San Diego, but the skipper instead had to go to his bullpen in the first inning. Houston wound up using eight pitchers.
“That second game was just their night,” Baker said.