In a series where the Astros held a lead in every game, the pitching played a crucial role in how the Astros faired in this series against the Marlins. The starting pitching performed at an optimal level, but the relievers let a couple wins get out of reach. Here is how it panned out:
Astro starting pitching was in rare form this series, and they finished the weekend with a line that follows: 20 1/3 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 6 ER, 6 R, 13 K’s, a homer allowed, and their first win of the year. Finishing with a WHIP of 1.17 and an ERA of 2.613, you would hope that you walk away with a series win, but it is just nice to see WayRod and Happ put a couple of starts together that will translate to Astro wins with a decent bullpen behind them.
Wandy started off Friday with a start that made Philadelphia seem like a distant memory. Pitching 7 innings and not allowing a walk, the seven hits he allowed only brought in one run for the Fish. It was his second start in as many tries in which he pitched exactly 83 pitches which makes you question whether or not he should have been taken out of the game when he was. Granted, runs were scarce, but a Wandy in that type of form this early in the season should have a longer leash than what he received. With only two strikeouts, Rodriguez focused on retiring batters and letting his fielders take care of the rest. A WHIP of 1.14 and ERA of 1.29 are numbers that were unthinkable prior to the All Star Break last season.
Bud Norris started his start on Saturday looking like the pitcher we expected him to be. Striking out batters with his newly developed change up, Norris looked more mature than he had in his previous match up. The long ball, though, came back to haunt him, and he has now surrendered 3 on the year after giving one up on Saturday. He only allowed two walks in his start, which came on 8 straight pitches, and seeing that type of control is a great sign for the rest of the season.
J.A. put the starters in the win column for the first time this season with his gem on Sunday. If you are looking for dents in his armor, look no further than the four walks allowed, but over the course of 7 2/3 innings, you have to be impressed with his single run allowed. Throwing 117 pitches, Happ was able to go almost twice as deep this game when compared to his 4 inning fiasco in Cincy. With 5 strikeouts and only 4 hits allowed, Happ seems to have gained the control he lacked last start.
The relievers, on the other hand, had a much longer weekend with the following line: 6 1/3 IP, 11 H, 0 BB, 5 ER, 6 R, 4 K’s, one homer (dangit, Jeff), and two losses. One number that is encouraging is the lack of walks allowed in the series, but other than that, the 7.11 ERA nd 1.74 WHIP will be what is remembered from the series.
Friday night’s loss can be pinned on a lack luster bullpen (as well as Pence’s inability to convert in the clutch) with 3 runs being surrendered in just two innings of work. Wilton had a shaky appearance on Friday giving up 4 hits and blowing the Wandy lead.
Saturday’s game saw Fernando Abad give up 2 crucial runs after Norris left the game, but the damage had already been done by Bud in his last inning of work. Giving up 5 hits, though, in just 3 innings of work, the bullpen will be needed to perform at a higher level if they are to be trusted with leads late in the game.
Happ left the bullpen only responsible for 1 1/3 innings of his start, but Melancon and Fulchino took care of the Marlins without allowing a runner on the bases. Aneury Rodriguez did plunk a batter, but you have to wonder how long he will be on this team. The kid has talent, but we need another lefty in the bullpen, and he is costing us that arm.
Figgy will look to get us started on the right foot against the Cubbies this week, and let the arms stay strong!