When you’re the team at the bottom of the NL Central and you’re playing the team that leads the NL Central you don’t expect miracles. You go out and just play the best ball that you can. Tonight at Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros did just that.
Bud Norris had fans and announcers whispering the word “no-no” as he threw 6 2/3 innings of no hit baseball with the well played defense of his teammates. Studly Budly is known for being a strike out guy, but not tonight. He had 3 straight lead off walks (all followed by double plays) and only 2 Ks on the night, but by keeping his pitches low he was able to get lots of ground balls in play and economize his pitches.
Brad Mills was impressed with his starter tonight. “You can’t say enough about Bud. I mean, he was absolutely outstanding. The big thing there, I think, tonight is that he really kept the ball down on his own. Eleven groundball outs was really huge for him.” It was huge for the team as a whole as well.
The hit that ruined the possible no-hitter? A solo homerun by Lance Berkman that went just out of the reach of Hunter Pence and over the right field wall. The Cards would get only one other hit the whole night – a double by Pujols in the ninth, but the Redbirds never could get any momentum going and the Astros were able to keep them at bay. Norris’ winning line for the night was 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2SO, 1 HR – 3.67 ERA. Melancon got the save after pitching 1 inning with only 1 hit and no runs (1.78 ERA).
Other things of note tonight – Jason Â Bourgeois, who shall from this point forward be known as J-Lightning (courtesy of @HouCounterplot), was 2-5 with a stolen base and a walk and managed to find a way around the bases seemingly with no help at all. The man was determined he would score, and he did, putting a run on the board for Houston tonight.
Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to a career high 19 games with 1 hit in 4 plate appearances, hitting a triple that went 435 feet out to Tal’s Hill to send Jeff Keppinger home for the first run of the game. Hunter would then come home on a groundout by Carlos Lee.
There was great defense as well as the ‘Stros found their way to 3, yes 3 double plays.Â Clint Barmes played defense tonight as if his life depended on it, stopping several hits in the hole that initially appeared unstoppable. Tonight he was a shortstop at the top of his game. He didn’t get any hits again tonight which I’m sure will have some people screaming for Angel Sanchez to get some playing time, but I, for one, would rather have Barmes’ defense on the field than Sanchez’s hitting. We’ll have to wait and see what Brad Mills thinks.
In the meantime, I’m just going to marinate in this 4-1 Astros win that broke their 4 game losing streak. Whew!
Tomorrow night the Astros will play game 3 against the Cardinals and now find themselves in a position to possibly win a series against the division leaders. I’m crossing my fingers and my toes and my legs and my arms and anything else I can think of!
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can read her Astros blog at www.talesfromthejuicebox.com, email her at email@example.com, or follow her on twitterÂ @agirlinthesouth.