Chris Carter homered for the second consecutive game, and he was not the biggest story as the Astros defeated the Angels for the second straight night by a score of 3-1. While last night’s home run was a three run shot and was more important in the flow of the game, Carter’s eighth home run of the season off Joe Blanton tonight was highlight worthy. To call it anything less than a bomb would be an understatement.
But now let’s get on to the important stuff. Bud Norris had his best outing of the season against the Angels tonight. A Josh Hamilton solo home run aside, Norris really could not have pitched much better. Tonight he truly was an ace. Well at least for eight innings.
Norris entered the ninth inning having only thrown 80 pitches with an average of 10 pitches an inning. Yes that is correct and not a typo. This is not something we have grown accustomed to seeing at all this season. Tonight was one of the few times all season when an Astros pitcher minimized the base runners, the pitch count, and pitched deep into a game. Norris gave the Astros exactly what they needed.
The night would have went a lot smoother had Norris not given up leadoff singles to start the ninth inning to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. At that point Bo Porter called on Jose Veras to close the door, and that is exactly what he did. But there was a little drama first before that could happen.
Veras struck out Mark Trumbo on three pitches and then hit Josh Hamilton to load the bases. Things could have gone either way at that point, but Veras got Howie Kendrick to hit into the Angels fourth double play of the game to send everyone home happy.
Since Norris only gave up one run and pitched eight innings, it can be legitimately said that Norris scattered nine hits. The main thing here, is that Norris only walked one batter and promptly erased those baserunners by forcing the Angels to ground into three double plays.
The right hander did only strike out two batters, but that is just nitpicking Norris’ night. After the first three innings, he had only thrown 24 pitches. For some of the Astros’ starting pitchers this season, that has just been one average inning, not three.
Thanks to three third inning doubles by Matt Dominguez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Jimmy Paredes, the Astros jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Paredes doubled again in the eighth inning and seemed to be safe on a Trevor Crowe squeeze attempt. Thankfully, the missed call did not come back to bite the Astros as Veras was able to record the save for the second straight night.
In his two games so far this season, Paredes has not wasted any time making an impact. He is 3-8 with two runs batted in and all three hits were doubles. But in accordance with the Astros of this season, Paredes has also struck out four times.
While he is batting .200 on the season, Robbie Grossman did bring an eight game hitting streak into the game, which came to an end tonight.
Let’s see if Lucas Harrell can rebound from a poor start in his last outing as the Astros go for a sweep against the Angels on Thursday night.