Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell (Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE)

Final homestand of 2012 taking shape


What started out as a promising farewell to 2012 and the National League has quickly turned sour. The Astros pulled off a pair of convincing wins against Pittsburgh in the first two games of the homestand but failed to show up for the next two games. The Pirates exacted some revenge on Sunday and last night the Cardinals continued their dominance of the Astros.

Scott Moore (Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE)

Sunday’s game was a typical Jordan Lyles start- no score into the fifth inning and BAM! Lyles wasn’t hit hard this time but did manage to load the bases with nobody out. At that point Lyles was pulled from the game in favor of Wesley Wright. I wasn’t too crazy about the decision at the time. It wasn’t so much that Lyles was leaving but more about Wright coming in. Wesley isn’t exactly what I would call a control pitcher, and that’s what the situation called for.

Wright plunked the first batter he faced, forcing in the first run of the afternoon. After striking out the next batter Wright gave way to Mickey Storey. Of course, Storey walked the first hitter he faced. Clint Barmes followed with a bloop single and it was officially a big inning.

Other than Scott Moore, the Astros offense never got on track against A.J. Burnett. Guys were just standing in the batter’s box watching called third strikes all day. The reeling Buccos outscored the sputtering Astros 8-1. Furthermore, the Astros were out-hit 18-4. UGH!! It was disappointing, and a little bit embarrassing.

Then the Cardinals came calling on Monday. St. Louis had already racked up eight straight wins over the Astros dating back to early June. Cards starter Lance Lynn entered the game with a record of 16-7. Fernando Abad was 0-5. This one looked to have all the makings of a blowout- and it was. Unfortunately for the Astros, this game produced more bad news than just a lopsided score.

Abad breezed through the first inning and got two quick outs in the second before issuing a walk to Matt Carpenter. Abad strained his right oblique on the next pitch and had to leave the game. Fernando Rodriguez came in and was unable to record an out before allowing Carpenter and two more Cardinals to cross the plate. Marwin Gonzalez was also forced from the game, apparently aggravating his ankle injury.

The Astros offense was once again missing in action, so Abad took the loss even though he didn’t even give up a hit. To add insult to injury it looks like Fernando “throw gasoline on the fire” Rodriguez will assume Abad’s rotation spot for the remainder of the season.

The Astros had their chances too. They had Lynn on the ropes in the first inning but couldn’t push any runs across. Justin Maxwell, recently the hottest hitter on the team, has turned into a strikeout machine. In the last two games Maxwell has gone 0 for 8 with five strikeouts. When he finally managed to make contact in the fifth inning he hit into an inning-ending double-play.

The Astros had nothing working in the 6-1 loss, committing three errors along the way. It was tough to watch.

Lucas Harrell takes the mound tonight in search of his eleventh win of the year. Harrell has pitched in some tough luck lately and is 0-2 over his last six starts. Both of those losses came against the Cardinals.

Here’s hoping that Lucas gets it done tonight. As well as Harrell has pitched this season, he deserves to have a winning record. Hopefully the offense can break out of the doldrums and get him some runs.

 

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