GAME 121 - August 20: Marlins 9, Astros 0
GAME 122 - August 21: Marlins 6, Astros 3
GAME 123 - August 22: Astros 2, Marlins 1
Going into the last quarter of a disappointing season, there have been lots of changes in the Astros clubhouse - Oswalt gone, Berkman gone, new kids on the block. Now Pedro Feliz is gone, traded to the Cards in trade for a young pitcher. Jeff Keppinger is out with a broken big toe. Lindstrom is on the DL. Tommy Manzella is back. Fernando Abad and Anderson Hernandez called up. Lots of changes - making the game a lot more interesting than the start of this miserable season.
Main story in the weekend series against the Marlins: The starting pitching continues to be solid. Despite the scores (not even close) in the two losses in this Fish Story, the starters aren't the cause. Friday night's 9-0 blowout started out as a 1-0 game for the first 5 innings. Happ gave up a pair of runs in the sixth, but the game was still not too bad. But Fulchino gave up 4 runs in the seventh, and Abad added another pair in the eighth to make it look really ugly. As you might imagine, I didn't bother to watch this one after the Sabbath ended.
Saturday night's game was looking good for Wandy, who had a 2-0 lead going through 5 innings. I joined in after the Sabbath, just in time to see the Astros lose the lead in a 3 run sixth. Only 2 of the runs were earned, giving Wandy a very respectable line: 2 earned runs in 6 innings on 7 hits, 1 walk, and 10 strikeouts. The Astros did come back in the 9th to score that extra run, but it was too little too late -- Melancon had given up three more runs (2 unearned) in the seventh, resulting in that 6-3 loss. The three unearned runs were thanks to a trio of fielding errors by our youngsters -- one for Wallace and 2 for CJ.
Sunday the Astros avoided a sweep with a beautiful start by Nelson Figueroa, who's making a case for his position in Houston's rotation. He pitched six innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 7. That wasn't good enough for a win, since the Astros only eked out a single run on his watch - a sac fly by Pence. After Figueroa was done, Pence knocked in the go-ahead run in the eigtht, with a solo homer (#19). The new close-out duo, Lopez and Lyon combined for 3 shutout innings to get the Astros a weekend win.
To net it out -- solid starters, inconsistent bullpen. And a pretty much stalled offense -- only 5 runs in the 3 game series. You gotta find something to like, if you're going to watch a losing season, and I like that starting pitching.