Quite simply, today was not Bud Norris‘ day. In what qualifies as a homecoming for Norris, he could not even get out of the first inning in Oakland this afternoon.
Bud Norris (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Houston’s ace started the season off well giving up four earned runs combined in his first three starts. This included seven shutout innings against the Angels in his last start which was a winning effort. But today Oakland had Norris’ number as he gave up six earned runs while only recording two outs.
In an effort to avoid the sweep the Astros got things started today with first inning singles by Jose Altuve and Jason Castro. However, that was quickly erased and all Houston had to show for it was an RBI groundout by Chris Carter. Bo Porter has at least committed to keeping the same batting order through this stretch, but for most of this series it has not led to much production.
Perhaps the off day on Thursday coupled with the trip back to Houston will jump start the bats once again. At this point it is hard to determine whether the offensive outbreak in Seattle is the out liar, or what we can expect going forward from this team. Based on the production, we have to err on the side of caution, and although I want to, it is not sensible to expect the Astros to score 16 runs again anytime soon.
It is hard to pin this just on the opposing pitching, but the Astros have made Bartolo Colon look like an ace twice this season. Colon pitched six innings today only giving up that one run. This proves that you really can’t take any starting pitcher too lightly.
The other four runs Houston scored were after the fact against Chris Resop and Grant Balfour to make the final score look a little better. Carlos Pena seems to have found his power stroke in Oakland and he hit his second home run of the season. Marwin Gonzalez continues to tighten his hold on the starting shortstop role and added an RBI single. Altuve finished off the scoring in the 7th off of Resop with an RBI single of his own as the Astros did show some signs of life. Rick Ankiel finished off the scoring in the 9th inning with a solo home run off of Balfour.
Aside from the messy first inning out of Norris (he allowed five hits and three walks), the Astros pitching was actually pretty good today. From the outset, it just seemed that Norris did not have it today. The damage was slow and painful as the A’s just strung together baserunners and kept the rally going.
Despite their ugly ERA’s, the Astros bullpen pitched 7.1 innings while only giving up one run. Xavier Cedeno relieved Norris pitching 2.2 innings and gave up a run. Wesley Wright followed by pitching 2.1 scoreless innings, followed by 1.1 scoreless innings from Hector Ambriz and a scoreless inning from Jose Veras.
With the off day to regroup and rest tomorrow, hopefully today was at least what the Astros bullpen needed to find their stride. Maybe one good thing can come out of today’s game. Another positive is that instead of just taking their getaway day defeat and getting on the plane back to Houston, the Astros fought back from a five run deficit.
Friday brings the Indians into town with the hope that the Astros can bounce back from being swept this week in Oakland. Here’s to hoping.