Bullpen can’t hold lead in home opener
Wandy Rodriguez had the magic tonight but the bullpen let him down. Rodriguez was in command early, throwing only 50 pitches (38 strikes) through the first five innings. The Marlins would score only a single run against him in the seventh. But the Astros offense had trouble putting anything together against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco and Wandy was removed for a pinch hitter after throwing only 83 pitches in seven innings. Brad Mills gave the ball to Wilton Lopez in the eighth with the Astros clinging to a 2-1 lead thanks to a solo shot by J.R. Towles and an RBI single by Chris Johnson.
With one out Lopez coughed up four straight hits and the Marlins took a 3-2 lead. Jeff Fulchino gave up a longball to Chris Coghlan in the ninth to give Florida an insurance run. That run proved to be the difference when Brett Wallace added a round-tripper of his own against Marlins closer Leo Nunez. J.R. Towles came through with his third hit of the night with two outs but pinch runner Jason Bourgeois was caught stealing to end the game.
It was a very eventful game in between the sauce packet races, kiss-cam, and other seemingly endless array of between innings gimmicks. Carlos Lee backed into the wall catching a deep fly off the bat of Chris Coghlan to lead off the game. Lee was slow to get up but stayed in the game. Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins marquee position player, was injured on a hard slide into second base by Bill Hall. The Astros second baseman, who will heretofore be referred to as “Chewy” due to his torrid love affair with his mouthpiece, was briefly shaken but stayed in the game. Ramirez had to be carried off the diamond with what the Marlins are calling a leg contusion. He is listed as day-to-day.
The offense didn’t give Wandy any breathing room. With the exception of a second inning double by Hunter Pence and Towles’ laser shot to the Crawford Boxes the Astros never threatened until the seventh. But in that frame they finally got to Nolasco and the crowd of 41,042 really started to get into it. I was in section 129 and everyone there was standing for pretty much the entire inning. I would have to say the reports of Astro fans giving up on their team have been greatly exaggerated. We didn’t get the result we wanted tonight, but tomorrow is another day.