Game 3, (7-6 Astros loss)
Sunday’s loss is where pitching proved to be the concern. In his 448th start in his 17th season in MLB, Zack Greinke was pulled after just 3.1 innings and 58 pitches. Because of testing issues in summer camp, Greinke missed a day or two of training and this played a major part in his limited pitch count and could also have played a role in him being the No. 3 starter.
Even if his pitching wasn’t stellar, we were reminded of the great defensive pitcher he is when he covered a few plays at first. He is definitely fun to watch.
But here’s where the game took a turn and the concerns popped up (you’ll pardon the pun). The relievers used were Joe Biagini, Bryan Abreu, Taylor, Devenski, and Brandon Bailey. To say that Biagini struggled with control would be quite the understatement. And while Abreu struggled a bit, he did manage to record a scoreless outing.
In his 1.1 innings, Taylor managed to record two strikeouts and shut down the side in the seventh, looking like a most promising addition to the bullpen. On the other hand, Devenski gave up three runs in the eighth. While this was the turning point in the game for the Astros, Bailey made his big league debut and managed to close out the ninth without any more damage making him yet another interesting addition to keep an eye on.
Once again, Maldonado was the rockstar, going 1-for-3 and getting yet another two RBIs. For the series, Maldonado was 5-for-11 with six RBIs. He is the first MLB catcher since Brian McCann in 2007 to have six RBIs in the first three games of the season. During the game, Eschenfelder mentioned Maldonado is the first catcher on the Astros to do it, and also that he is the first nine-hole hitter on the Astros to accomplish this.
Game 4 (8-5 Astros win)
At first glance, it looked like things were going to be easy. Josh James had a fairly strong outing in the first and second, striking out two and then three, respectively. The third inning was not nearly as promising as he struggled to throw strikes and issued four walks. But things started to look up when he managed to get a double play that led to only one run scoring in the third.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Brandon Bielak. Making his big league debut, Bielak managed to hold the Mariners down with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings of a stellar performance. Both Paredes and Sneed proved themselves again, and Osuna stayed in character coming in as the ever-reliable closer.
Alex Bregman managed to get his first homer of the year, joining the century club with his 100th career home run. Altuve followed suit in the fifth with his first bomb of the season. But perhaps most exciting was the nine-hole hitter, Dustin Garneau, going 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. Our catching platoon has some pop, combining to go 6-for-14 in the opening series of 2020.