GAME 2 - April 2: Phillies 9, Astros 4
GAME 3 - April 3: Phillies 7, Astros 3
The good news -- if there is such a thing when you start out the season getting swept -- is that the Astros were not shut out even once by the mighty Phillies. In fact, they managed to eke out a few runs in each of the three games. The other good news is that it's virtually impossible for a team to lose every single game of the season, so Astros fans can look forward to a win or two sometime in the next few months. If the wins are few and far between in this year of "rebuilding," we will just have to savor them all the more.
Bad news first, so I can end up on a high note. After a solid start by Myers in the Opening Day game, Wandy and Bud Lite were overmatched by Cliff Lee and Roy O, respectively. Both Houston starters kicked off the game by giving up runs in the first inning, and the Astros were never able to regain the lead. Wandy pitched especially badly Saturday night, allowing 7 runs on 9 hits and a walk in his 4 innings. Norris got off to a dreadful start on Sunday afternoon, giving up 4 runs on two homers in the first inning. However, he settled down after than, and only allowed one other run, while striking out 7. The Houston bullpen had to carry 8 innings between the two games, and not one of the relievers escaped giving up at least one hit. But put the blame on the starters, who were responsible for allowing 12 of the Phillies' 16 runs in the two weekend games.
Both Phillies pitchers threw quality starts -- not much of a surprise from a team that is carrying 4 "aces" in its rotation. If the Astros were going to lose anyway, I'm just as happy that Roy O got a win out of it. He pitched a solid game and earned a "W" -- unlike so many similar starts for the Astros last year that resulted in a no-decision or loss.
Still, it's no fun to get swept.
If I were to pick one statistical comparison that I really don't like, it would be this: In their first series the Astros logged 28 strikeouts, while only garnering 3 walks -- and one of those was intentional. The lack of walks may be a sign of an aggressive offense. But like I noted in last season's dreadful start (when the team had barely any walks), it also kind of looks like the batters are desperate. Something for the hitting coach to figure out...
The Astros are due to lose a lot of games this year, so I am going to just have to find something to like about every game despite the outcome. Here's what I liked in this weekend's games: Carlos Lee hit well on Saturday, with a triple and a homer, accounting for all 4 of Houston's RBIs. With his giant paycheck, the only way he can avoid being a big boo-boy in MMP is by hitting in a big batch of runs. If nothing else, a big offensive year may make him an attractive trade target for one of the American League teams, who could turn him into a DH. There's not much he can do about his defense.
Hunter Pence, another player who had a dreadful start last season, also got off to a nice pace, hitting a homer and pair of singles off of Roy O on Sunday. CJ had a nice day at the plate too, with a single and double.
Day off tomorrow, resuming on Tuesday night in Cincinnati before heading back to Houston for a 10-game homestand. The Reds also swept their first series, so don't hold your breath waiting for the Astros' first win. But don't worry -- they can't lose 'em all!