Paulino, meet win column. Win column, meet Paulino.
They may only be acquaintances now, but if Felipe strings together starts similar to that of last night’s, he may become quite close to the concept of winning on a regular basis. In five of Paulino’s last six starts, he has given up 2 runs or less and avoided the sting of the blow-up inning that was holding him back from becoming a decent starter. The 7ER appearance against the Giants that sailed his ERA up to a high 5.72 has simmered down to a cool 4.01 over the course of the last month due to him only allowing 5 ER in his past 4 starts that totaled up to 28 innings. What was most comforting about Friday’s game from Paulino was seeing his strike out total get up to 7 while still pitching 8 innings since in his previous 7 strike out appearance was in that dreadful showing against the Giants. He had stuggled with the whiffers in his previous 4 starts, but it came at the much enjoyed expense of more innings. If he can continue to keep up these string of starts without the innings from hell, we may have a new sigh of relief in our rotation.
If Paulino wasn’t sitting them down on strikes, it seemed as though Bourny was busy making web gems look like a pre-game warm up. If there is one thing that we may be not truly giving enough light to, it is Michael’s ability to turn extra base hits into outs, and that is note worthy since he plays in the cavernous center field of Minute Maid. When he is not busy doing his best impersonation of the Flash in center, he is busy at the plate turning singles to doubles via savvy base running on contact or stealing second with spot on timing. He leads the National League with 18 steals, but one has to wonder how many he would have if Kepp wasn’t as good as he is at converting the ole hit and run. This player is special, and even though he won’t get national attention by playing for a media shadow in Houston, he deserves consideration for the All-Star game on his fielding and ability to man the basepaths. Though we have seen his average drop down to .281 and he has only managed to get 25 bases on balls on the year, he shows superstar potential, and shows that when the big guys get the job done swinging the bat behind him, he can score runs. Bourn has trotted across the pentagon 12 times in the past 8 games and atleast once in the past six.
In other news, Berkman has managed to stay hot by adding two more RBI’s to the year and has 10 over the past 6 games. What deserves more praise is his ability to do so in the first inning over the past week (much thanks to the speedy Bourn). You have to wonder if the raise in production of the Astro starting pitching over the past week is a result of the confidence in the offense scoring runs early. Now, pitchers like Paulino who were thinking that they had to be perfect now see that their offense will supply for them, and that must help the ease the mind.
Tonight, Oswalt will pitch for the first time since his ejection, and also looks to extend the win streak to 5 against the Cub’s Lilly who has also been the recipient of poor offense. Let’s rack up another W at the expense of the cubbies tonight, and take the series.