Well for three innings tonight, things were looking good.
Lucas Harrell (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
As the Astros entered the seventh game of an eight game stretch against some of their old NL Central rivals, there was room for a little optimism. Granted, the series finale on Sunday against the Cubs was nothing to get excited about, but the Astros were 3-3 in this recent stretch.
Harrell gave up a single to Allen Craig to begin the second inning, but he was promptly erased on a double play. Aside from that, there were only two other baserunners for either team in the first three innings. Both David Freese and Chris Carter reached on walks, and that was it. Well until the Cardinals blew the game open in the fourth inning.
Matt Carpenter‘s bases loaded triple was the big blow in St. Louis’ seven run fourth inning against Harrell. On the play, the Astros also lost centerfielder Justin Maxwell to a mild concussion. It is likely he will need to visit at minimum the 7-day disabled list. Dare I suggest that George Springer goes straight to Houston? I mean he did go deep twice and he was also named the MVP of his AA All-Star game.
A day after the Astros jettisoned the unused Wade LeBlanc, the Astros needed a long man out of the bullpen. Luckily for them, thanks to their two off days this week, they were able to move starter Dallas Keuchel to the bullpen to fill that role.
Keuchel provided 2.1 innings of relief while giving up two runs. Travis Blackley and Josh Fields followed with an inning each out of the bullpen giving up two runs apiece. Hector Ambriz then closed out the pitching for Houston with a scoreless ninth inning.
Through the first five innings, it also looked like the Astros would be on the wrong side of a no-hitter. That quickly ended when Matt Dominguez took Westbrook deep to start the sixth inning for his 11th home run of the season.
Brett Wallace also made his presence felt quickly tonight by tripling in Brandon Barnes and Jose Altuve before scoring on a Jason Castro sacrifice fly to make it 9-4. Any hope of Houston getting back into the game, then quickly vanished as Blackley and Fields promptly gave those runs back.
For me, the takeaway tonight is that yet again, Harrell did not look good. His ERA is back up to 4.84 and has to be of some concern to the coaching staff. Plus two straight games giving up double digit runs can’t be good for anyone.