Jordan Lyles outpitched Mat Latos today in Cincinnati but the Astros bullpen couldn’t hold onto a 5-3 lead. The Astros jumped on Latos early, as Jed Lowrie drove in Jose Altuve in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. Latos narrowly escaped further damage when the next two hitters, J.D. Martinez and Travis Buck, hit deep drives that were caught on the warning track. Lyles helped his cause with a successful squeeze bunt that gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Lyles showed an increase in velocity from last season, consistently hitting 92 m.p.h. on the radar gun today. He held the Reds hitless through the first three innings before making a couple of mistakes in the fourth. Joey Votto followed a Zack Cozart double with a 2-run homer to tie the game. Lyles limited the damage and left the game with a 5-3 lead thanks to homeruns by Jed Lowrie and Matt Downs. Lyles allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in six innings pitched.
The Astros hit Latos hard, rapping out ten hits and plating five runs against the big right-hander in 6 & 1/3 innings. Latos was lucky to escape with a no-decision thanks in part to some nice defensive plays behind him on some hard-hit balls by the Astros. The two bullpens turned out to be the difference in this back-and-forth game. Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, and Sean Marshall kept the Astros off the scoreboard while the Houston bullpen faltered. Wilton Lopez allowed hits to the only two batters he faced and was charged with two runs when David Carpenter couldn’t put out the fire.
Jay Bruce greeted Fernando Martinez with a long homerun to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Bruce has now homered in four straight games and this one proved to be a game-winner. The 6-5 loss dropped Rodriguez to 0-3 for the season. The bullpen has had their share of struggles lately and appears to be the weak link on a team that has played surprisingly well so far this season.
Jordan Lyles was sent back to Oklahoma City after the game and SS Marwin Gonzalez was activated from the paternity list. The enigmatic Fernando Abad mysteriously remains on the roster. Who will start the next time the number five spot in the rotation comes up? That too is a mystery. Stay tuned.