GAME 54 - May 30: Astros 12, Cubs 7
GAME 55 - May 31: Astros 7, Cubs 3
GAME 56 - June 1: Astros 3, Cubs 1
GAME 57 - June 2: Astros 7, Padres 4
GAME 58 - June 3: Padres 3, Astros 1
GAME 59 - June 4: Padres 6, Astros 3
GAME 60 - June 5: Padres 7, Astros 2
So here's how a team like the Astros can SWEEP a series: Play a team whose combined ERA is even worse than ours. That would be the Cubs, whose sloppy play and pitching woes combined to give the Astros their first (and possibly only) 3-game sweep of the season. And the start to a FOUR GAME WINNING STREAK! Almost unimaginable.
It was all down hill from there over the weekend, as the Astros went on to lost the rest of the series in San Diego. The usual good news in bad times: They didn't get shut out. But just barely -- the Astros only scored a total of 6 runs all weekend. After scoring 29 runs in the previous 4 games, that's a painful indictment of Cubs pitching.
The big news of the week had relatively little to do with game outcomes, and much more to do with the future hopes of the team. With Wandy still on the DL, Jordan Lyles came up to the Bigs for his much anticipated debut. Tuesday night, in his first game, he was just about everything that fans had hoped for -- economical with his pitches (lasting into the 8th inning), calm (even with runners on third base), and relatively nasty. He even got his first major league hit. The worst thing he did all evening was a poor fielding play that cost him a couple of runs. The worst thing the Astros did was to fail to score runs for him, leaving him vulnerable for the loss. However, in a nearly miraculous turnaround, once Lyles was out, the Astros came back for a huge 9th inning comeback, putting 6 runs on the board against the Cubs closer Marmol. So Lyles got a no-D, and gained the affection of those of us who are hoping for a brighter future. As it turned out, a different Astros player got his first big league win that night -- reliever Fernando Rodriguez (one of the 3 Rodriguez pitchers on the team).
Just in case anyone was inclined to believe that Lyles would be the Savior of the Universe (as SB Nation facetiously claimed), his second big league start on Sunday night was a lot less exciting: He gave up 3 runs in the first inning, and only made it through 4 innings on 96 pitches, earning the loss. A bit of a reminder that the kid is just 20 years old, and that he could be heading back down to Triple A when Wandy gets back in a week or so. But still nice to see some energy from the fans and sportscasters.
In other youngster news, the Astros have named an outfielder (not a big arm!) for their first-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft tonight. The player is UConn's George Springer, considered a five-tool prospect. Maybe another future Pence-type player? Only time will tell...
Meanwhile we have to slog our way through this season for a few more months.