GAME 13 - April 14: Astros 1, Padres 0
GAME 14 - April 15: Padres 4, Astros 2
GAME 15 - April 16: Astros 5, Padres 3
GAME 16 - April 17: Padres 8, Astros 6
With all the preparation for Passover, work at the office, and such, there was barely time to watch baseball games last week, let alone write about them. Just one really major thing to note: The Astros are NOT losers. Less than 3 weeks into the season, they actually TIED a series. Next thing you know, they'll be winning one.
The first game of the series was what Alyson Footer would call "a gem." As in, Bud Lite threw a gem: Six shutout innings, on 2 singles, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts. All those Ks added up to a lot of pitches, and by the end of 6, Norris was at 116 and due for replacement. Meanwhile, Dustin Moseley, the Padres' starter, kept pace, not allowing the Astros to score in the first five innings. The game went to the bottom of the sixth with the score tied, 0-0.
Quintero led off with a single. I expected to see a pinch batter, but Mills left in Norris to bunt Q over. I griped on Twitter at that point about how I didn't like wasting an out on a sacrifice, but it turned out that Mills knew better -- Bourn's ground ball single scored Q to make it 1-0.
That single run put Norris in the running for his first win, but it didn't come easily. The bullpen was on the hook for 3 innings protecting that one-run lead, as the Astros couldn't manage to score again. Abad struck out the leadoff batter in the seventh, then gave up a single. Mills brought in Melancon, whose first pitch resulted in a double play. Nice work -- one pitch, 2/3 of an inning credit. In the bottom of the inning, the Astros got a pair of two-out singles, and Mills again brought in his pitcher to bat. More griping on Twitter -- but Melancon walked to load the bases. The luck ran out there; Bourn K'ed to end the fun.
Norris' precarious lead looked pretty vulnerable in the eighth. The leadoff batter got on base due to catcher interference by Quintero, then immediately stole second. The second batter struck out, but the ball was bobbled and the runner advanced to third on Q's throw to first. Melancon walked the third batter -- putting runners on the corners with one out. Next batter grounded to first base -- Wallace shot the ball to the plate, where Q tagged the runner for the second out. Melancon's strikeout ended the inning. Whew!
The Astros didn't score in the bottom of the inning, taking the game into the ninth with the 1-0 score intact. Lyon put his Opening Game screw-up out of mind, and knocked off the Padres, 1-2-3, on 8 pitches. Sweet. First win for Bud Lite.
The Padres came back for a Game 2 win Friday night, cheating the Astros of the opportunity for back-to-back wins. But Saturday night Figuero threw 6 2/3 solid innings to give the team the chance to tie the series. I joined in during the seventh inning after the Sabbath ended, with the score tied 3-3, just in time to see Joe Inglett and Angel Sanchez add on a couple of runs with RBI singles. Lyon wasn't quite as lights out as he had been in Game 1, but dispatched the Padres in the ninth to get the save. Melancon, who finished off the seventh inning for Figuero, had been the pitcher of record when the Astros went ahead, earning the win for his 5 pitches.
I had great hopes for a winning series when the Astros took an early lead in Game 4 on Sunday. After 6 innings, the score was 6-3, and Myers looked like he was on his way to another win. But Melancon and Fulchino let it all get away in the 8th, with the Padres more than batting around and scoring 4 runs on a combination of hits, walks, and errors. Ugly.
So the Astros finished up their homestand on a bummer of a game. But given that it was the first series that they didn't LOSE, we'll have to take that as something to like. That's how it's going to be this season.
Oh, by the way, the no-shutout streak continues. I like that too!