Just like Jordan Lyles before him, Lucas Harrell finished the season on a high note. Harrell tossed six scoreless innings Monday night in Chicago, improving his record to 11-11 for the year. Harrell was dominant, limiting the Cubs to only two hits and one walk while striking out seven. Unlike Lyles, who went the distance on Sunday, Harrell got some help from a well-rested bullpen. Jose Valdez, Fernando Rodriguez, and Wesley Wright combined for three perfect innings in the 3-0 victory.
It was great to see Harrell even his record at .500, and even better to hear him say his arm felt good after the game. Harrell has been Houston’s most dependable starter in 2012 and the Astros will be counting on him to continue that trend as they move to the American League in 2013.
Another welcome sight has been the Astros solid play down the stretch. Teams with nothing to play for this time of year tend to pack it in early as they look toward the off-season. But not this group of youngsters- they have remained focused at a time when it would be easy to simply go through the motions. To me, that says a lot about this group of players.
These guys are battling for their professional lives. Guys like Scott Moore and Wesley Wright are taking advantage of the opportunity to prove they belong in the big leagues.
Fernando Martinez continued to state his case to be the team’s first ever Opening Day DH. Martinez knocked a Jason Berken pitch completely out of Wrigley Field in his first at-bat of the evening, then singled his second time up and came around to score the Astros’ second run.
The back-to-back shutouts gives the Astros four wins in their last five games. That streak started with a 2-0 shutout of the Cardinals last Wednesday when Bud Norris took the mound. Norris makes his final start of the season tonight against the Cubs and looks to keep the shutout streak going.
After a brutal summer, it’s nice to see the team finally playing well. Knocking the Brewers out of playoff contention was oh so sweet. It was also nice to see them do a number on the Cubs after Dale Sveum’s recent comments. I just hope they can keep the ball rolling. A strong finish could provide the fans with some much needed hope.