As they started the series against the Phillies in Houston there was a lot of excitement. Most of that excitement had to do with seeing Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt in Minute Maid Park again. No one expected much in terms of wins, least of all me. I hoped for one singular win. I prayed the Astros wouldn’t look ridiculous against the best team in baseball. Turns out God was listening.
For the second straight night, the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies. I’d say lightening definitely struck twice. And it was enough for Houston to win the series. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll all see if they have it in them to sweep the boys from Philly.
I think the best part of these two wins is they came from excellent outings from the mound by two former Phillies backed with excellent hitting. Toinght JA Happ showed us again that perhaps his time down in AAA at OKC paid off. He threw 6 innings allowing 4 hits, 1 earned run (a homer) while walking 4 and striking out 4. This is a different Happ than we saw earlier in the season. It’s a shame this pitcher showed up so late in the season. But he’s now 2-0 against his former team and 2-1 since he returned from OKC.
Brad Mills was happy with Happ’s outing as well. “JA did a real good job of keeping his emotions under control. He stayed down in the zone which I thought was outstanding.”
When the bullpen came in, they did exactly what they’ve done well this second half of the season by allowing only 1 hit between Fernando Rodriguez and David Carpenter, only 1 earned run and striking out 6. It was a great night of pitching for the Astros. We’d all gotten used to the bullpen blowing 4 run leads. I can’t say that lately. They’ve held their own and games since the All-Star Break.
I can’t not mention the hitting tonight as well. Two batters really stood out tonight. Clint Barmes hit a 3 run homer in the 4th to put the Astros up 5-1. He was 2-4 with 2 run, and 3 RBIs on the night. then JB Shuck came into the game when Jason Michaels injured himself on an amazing catch in right field. Shuck made his presence known as he was 3-3 with 1 run as well.
And defense! I’ve complained about defense this season, but tonight? I have NO complaints. In the 2nd Jason Michaels made a diving catch in right field that bent his hand backwards ending up breaking a left metacarpal badly enough that he’ll require surgery and his season is done. Odds are he has played his last game in an Astros uniform. Then JD Martinez made an outstanding catch at the LF wall in the 5th when the Phillies had bases loaded and two outs. Definitely a pivotal play to keep the lead.
Now my question is this – can lightening strike three times? I can’t say no. I would have NEVER bet the Astros would win two of these games, but now it seems that anything is possible. The Astros are holding their count to 100 losses at 3 to go as they took their record to 51-97 with only 14 games to play this year.
I have to say this – this Astros team lately? They’re playing some really fun baseball.
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 twitter @agirlinthesouth.