The frustration with the way Bo Porter handles the bullpen continued Sunday, as Hector Ambriz blew a 0-0 tie game. The Astros would lose 2-0 to the Royals, and have lost five of six since their six game winning streak.
Today’s bullpen explosion and lack of offense lead to a Lucas Harrell no decision. Harrell pitched brilliantly after struggling early on in the game. Harrell got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, and was already at 50 pitches as he got to the third inning. After settling down, Harrell retired 17 out of 18 batters to end his outing. Harrell pitched seven shutout innings allowing two hits, three walks, and striking out one. Harrell finished with just 99 pitches on the day, and has now allowed just one run in his last 14 innings.
In the eighth inning, Porter elected to go with Hector Ambriz in a 0-0 tie game. Harrell was at 99 pitches, but Porter thought Ambriz and his 4.39 ERA (at the time), was a better idea. Ambriz would allow two runs on four singles and wasn’t able to finish the inning. Travis Blackley came into the game to get Mike Moustakas to ground out to Cedeno. Ambriz now owns a 4.94 ERA and 1.54 WHIP and doesn’t belong on the roster, never mind pitching in the eighth inning.
The Astros offense had several opportunities to score, but they were unable to put a run on the board. A third inning leadoff double by Ronny Cedeno lead to nothing. In the seventh inning, the Astros had back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, and were still unable to score. In the eighth inning, Carlos Corporan lined into a soft double play with runners on first and second and one out. In the ninth inning, J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play to end the threat. The Astros were shutdown by Luis Mendoza who threw seven innings of four hit, one walk, three strikeout ball. Aaron Crow and Greg Holland finished off the game for the Royals.
The bullpen has been a huge problem for the Astros, and Porter hasn’t done such a great job handling it. It’s not a huge concern yet as the pieces he has aren’t exactly “lights out” relievers.