Sometimes on Christmas, you get that one toy that you were extremely excited about and just knew that it was going to be the end-all be-all of toys, but it doesn’t work immediately out of the box. You cease to pay attention to it until about June, and then you rediscover its awesomeness while it totally redeems itself. That toy is Carlos Lee.
It would be one thing if Lee came out of his slump with homers that were cutting 6 run deficits to 5 and all of his hits were singles, but his power surge has led to tide changing, game winning, bases juiced homers and doubles that have brought a sense of pride back to a team that was lacking it. Lee sent a bomb to left field in the top of the tenth after Belisle walked Berkman to load the bases. This would not have been the scenario had Bourn not stole second with Keppinger on third to put the Rockies between a rock and a hard place (had to, sorry). Lee’s jack gives him twelve on the month before we reach the double digits, and yes, that is more than double his production in all of April. If there was any doubt left in Lee’s opponents, it had to be put to rest after tonight and his Ortiz-ian comeback.
This all would have been for not had Paulino not thrown another gem tonight. Though he did not receive the win, the Dominating Dominican brought his season ERA down to 3.82 with a 7 strikeout, 2 ER showing that brought his stretch of starts with at least 6 innings pitched and 2 or less ER to 5. Wow. What a jewel we have stumbled upon this season. He may be fifth in the league in losses with 7, but his numbers are showing that this is a starlet worth keeping an eye on for the future as well as the rest of the season. Lyon’s shut out ninth inning frame scored him the win due to the tenth inning baptism which was followed up by an equally important shut out inning from Wilty. The Lopez-Lyon-Lindstrom tandem, or the L-Train, has been impressive during this stretch of wins with all three pitchers supporting ERA’s below 3.60 and still heading south bound.
The ‘Stros are now 7-2 in the past 9 (obviously) games, and a lot of credit can be given to late inning clutch performances, solid work out of the bullpen after quality starts, and doing the little things right. Things such as Humberto picking off Seth Smith at second change the pace of the ballgame and swing the momentum to us. As much as much as I would like to put confidence in Lee’s ability to go out and hit homers whenever we need it, we just can’t rest our caps on that. Our ability to move runners and play it inning by inning has helped the Astros turn small victories from various innings into tallies in the win column.
Thursday, we look to take our third series in a row in the matinée featuring the Wizard against Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin, not to be confused with Wade strangling, Alaskan born Shawn from last year. Roy started the year with 10 consecutive quality starts but has looked more confused and frustrated than a democrat at a NRA convention. He looks to right his ship against the Rockies by hopefully taking advantage of the momentum and focusing on what he had been doing prior to late May. Carlos Lee will look to extend his current 10 game hitting streak, and Tommy Manzella looks to keep his batting average over the Mendoza line. Game is at 2:10 and watch your 5th place Astros continue to make their run at .500 and whatever the future holds.