Bud Norris (0-0, 4.15) v.s. Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.57)
What the heck happened?! The Astros offense exploded tonight, scoring 11 runs on 17 hits enroute to a huge 11-4 win over the Nationals. The Astros were due for a win and did it in a big way. The Astros improve to 5-8 and the Nationals fall to 10-4.
*Bud Norris was not spectacular but was good enough tonight thanks to the amount of run support his offense gave him. His line: 6.0 IP / 10 H / 4 ER / 2 BB / 6 K. He picked up the win.
*Lopez, Carpenter and Myers each pitched an inning in relief. They combined for 3.0 IP / 1 H / 0 BB / 2 K in a good showing by the bullpen, although the game was out of reach by the time they were utilized.
*Jed Lowrie got the night off and Marwin Gonzalez started in his place. Altuve was moved up to his original #2 spot in the order and responded with a 2 for 5 night including 2 RBI's (which could have been 4 as he narrowly missed a grand slam, hitting one off the wall in deep left-center). He is now batting .348/.380/.522 and is a lot of fun to watch. I love him in that #2 spot and wish Mills would just leave him there. Gonzalez also picked up a hit on a 1 for 5 night tonight.
*Chris Johnson also got the night off, with Matt Downs getting the start in his place. Downs went 2 for 5 with an RBI and 2 runs, including a triple in the first inning.
*The Astros set a franchise record with 3 triples in the first inning tonight. The sequence: Schafer struck out, Altuve tripled, JD Martinez singled (1-0), Carlos Lee singled, Bogusevic tripled (3-0), Downs tripled (4-0), Castro singled (5-0), Gonzalez flied out, Norris popped out. The Astros batted around and handed Bud Norris a 5-0 lead on a silver platter before he even stepped on the mound.
*The Astros batted around again in the 6th, tacking on another 5 runs and effectively putting the game out of reach.
*For the second straight game the Astros did not draw a single walk. A bit concerning for sure, especially for a team that was relying on its patience in the first few games of the season.
*Every Astros starter got a hit tonight, even Bud Norris.
*Bud Norris looked like he was going to get tossed from the game in the bottom of the 6th. Leading off, Bernadina hit a groundball to the right side. Carlos Lee fielded it and tossed it to Norris who clearly touched the bag first. First base umpire David Rackley looked as though he was going to signal out but then changed his mind and made the safe call. I've attached a couple of pictures below in case you didn't see the game so you can see that it was clearly a bad call. We've been pretty lucky with calls so far this year, and this was a tough one - but clearly blown. Norris was really tearing into Rackley and I was shocked he didn't get tossed - but luckily he got a long leash and Mills got out there in time to take over the complaint.
The first inning. 9 batters, 6 hits, 5 runs. The Astros took their 5-0 lead and never looked back. The Nationals did make it interesting, and closed the gap to 5-4 by the bottom of the 3rd thanks in part to a Ryan Zimmerman 3 run homerun. But Norris was able to bear down and the 'Stros ran away with another 5 runs in the 6th and 1 more for good measure in the 7th.
Man of the Match:
Very tough choice. Every starter had at least one hit. Altuve, Martinez, Bogey, Castro & Norris each had 2 RBI's (Downs also had one). Every starter scored at least 1 run. In the end, i'm going to go with Matt Downs. 2 for 5, 3 runs and a RBI in his first start of the year (and after only accumulating 6 AB's up until now in pinch hit roles). There is no wrong answer here - the offense was explosive.
Goat of the Game:
I decline to call anyone a Goat here. I can name two Nationals pitchers who could be here....but no Astros. Great all around team effort tonight.