On the heels of their first win all season against the A’s last night, the Astros were poised this afternoon to take the rubber game before they head off to Toronto for four games.
Norris’ last start did not go well for him or the team. After a four run fourth inning, the right hander settled down for the fifth inning, and then that should have been it for Norris. Instead, he was sent out for the sixth inning and allowed two more runs. But Porter did not learn from the past, again took too long to get Norris out of the game.
In what potentially could be his last start in Houston for the home team, Norris rebounded in strong fashion. A John Jaso solo home run in the first inning aside, the Oakland bats did not get much going in the first six innings. Norris struck out seven A’s and allowed only four hits and three walks. If you take away a seventh inning walk to Seth Smith and Eric Sogard‘s RBI double that followed, Norris’ outing looks that much better.
Especially considering the fact that with his starter at 111 pitches through six innings and his team up 3-1, Porter should have gone to his bullpen. Instead he chose not to, and paid for it as the A’s ended up scoring three times in the decisive seventh inning.
After Norris left the game, he gave way to Travis Blackley. Blackley closed the book on Norris and gave up the go ahead run on Coco Crisp‘s 2-run home run.
The Astros were not able to get much offense going today off starter A.J. Griffin and three Oakland relievers. Jose Altuve tied the game in the fourth inning with a solo home run and Carlos Corporan‘s two run shot in the sixth inning were the only runs Houston managed.
One of the big advantages to moving to the American League this year, is that Porter has been able to use the DH spot to not only rest Jason Castro, who scored on Corporan’s home run, but also to get his backup catcher in the lineup. That was Corporan’s sixth home run on the season and he has now driven in 15 runs while batting a respectable .273.
Other than the two home runs and Castro’s sixth inning double (his 27th of the season), the Astros only managed four singles. Altuve had two hits, and he was the only Astro with multiple hits today. They were 1-4 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base. The star of last night’s game Jonathan Villar also went hitless for the first time in his young career, striking out twice.
If you take the final box score out of the equation, this was a pretty good audition for Norris as we are now a week away from the trade deadline. But it would have been nice to get a series win as well.