Slowly but surely, the Astros are starting to make some noise. In a division that is looking like it could be a tight race from start to finish this year, everybody is still in contention early on. Which means that today’s rubber match against the Milwaukee Brewers could mean a lot come September.
The Astros came back to win yesterday’s game after closer Brandon Lyon blew the save in the ninth, sending the Astros into their first extra inning game of the season. After a very fiery play in the ninth, where Ryan Braun slid under the tag at home to tie the game, Humberto Quintero redeemed himself with a two-run double in the 10th. The victory evened the series after two games and puts the Astros in position to win their second straight series after winning their first series of the season against the Mets. The starters for today’s game will be Wandy Rodriguez (1-2) vs. Randy Wolf (2-2).
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While the Astros came away with the victory, the bullpen is becoming a greater problem by the day. And if the Astros manage to hang around in contention come July, they will, most definitely, be looking for some help in the pen. Lyon was lucky to come away with a W last night, but his second blown save of the season in six tries doesn’t create much confidence for the starting pitchers or coaching staff. Last season, one-time Astros closer Matt Lindstrom was replaced by Lyon after he had lost his touch (and confidence) midway through the season. Unfortunately, the Astros don’t have that luxury this year. There is no Brandon Lyon to replace Brandon Lyon. If he fails, the Astros could be in trouble.
- Speaking of trouble … What’s up with the defense? Errors, that’s what. The Astros have a major league leading 23 errors in 20 games this season. Those numbers are drastically enhanced by five errors each this season by Angel Sanchez and Chris Johnson. As mentioned in last week’s quick hits, Sanchez must pick up the slack defensively if he wants to keep his job when Clint Barmes returns from injury. Sanchez has been wonderful at the plate thus far this season, but his defensive slippage could cost him greatly.
- The Prince and the Pauper … Hunter Pence isn’t getting near the national attention that Prince Fielder is this season, but Pence’s early hot start deserves to be thrown into the conversation. Fielder’s stat line is formidable (.368 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, .455 OBP), but Pence. other than batting average, is right in the mix (.286 BA, 3 HR, 17 RBI). Pence is overlooked because he plays for Houston, who has been ranked near or at the bottom of every analysts recent power rankings, but he is putting up all-star numbers so far. Maybe if the Astros string together a few more wins, people will take notice.
- King Leonidas … Brett Myers, who I recently wrote about for donning a Leonidas beard, has been cutthroat on the mound this year. In five starts, Myers has had four quality starts, and he’s left with a lead in all four of those games, including in last night. Unfortunately, because of the bullpen, Myers only has one victory to show for his efforts. This is eerily familiar to what the Astros used to do for ace Roy Oswalt, who would pitch gem after gem and rarely come away with a W.
- Safe … For the entertainment this week, let’s take a look at the early-season play of the year, which comes from a high school baseball game. We often see innovative slides, dives or robbing catches from minor league games or from Japanese leagues, but this high school player steals the show this week. Enjoy this beautiful baseball play.
- Probable Starters:
Fri. Apr 29 v. Milwaukee: Brett Myers (1-0) v. Shaun Marcum (2-1)
Sat. Apr 30 v. Milwaukee: Rodriguez (1-2) v. Wolf (2-2), – rematch of today’s game
Happy Easter, Passover and Sunday to everyone.