RA Dickey (3-1, 4.44) v.s. Bud Norris (1-1, 5.84)
The Astros and Mets played a very back and forth game tonight, but the Astros were able to hold on to a 4-3 victory to take the series opener. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 6th when the Astros took a 3-0 lead behind a Travis Buck RBI groundout and a Matt Downs 2 run homer. The Mets rallied immediately in the top of the 7th to tie the game at 3, but the Astros would pull ahead for good in the 8th with an RBI single up the middle by Jed Lowrie, scoring Jordan Schafer. The Astros improve o 9-14 and the so-far-surprising Mets fall to 13-10.
*Bud Norris, much like his last start, was simply outstanding at the start of the game, but did a complete 360 in the 7th and all of a sudden couldn't make a pitch. One has to wonder if his stamina is simply not as good this year, as he starts very strong but has a ton of trouble locating pitches as the game gets into the middle innings. His line: 6.2 IP / 7 H / 3 ER / 1 BB / 7 K. It was a very strong line, but it could have been so much better had he not got into such a jam in the 7th. He was basically on cruise control through the first 6 innings. Fernando Rodriguez got the win with a scoreless 1/3 of an inning tonight, and Brett Myers pitched a perfect 9th for his 5th save in 5 chances this season.
*Jordan Schafer reached base yet again - 23 straight games to start the season. The club record is 25 by Denis Menke in 1969. Schafer went 2 for 4 with a pair of runs scored tonight. He also made a terrific heads up base running decision in the bottom of the 6th. He was at 2nd when Jed Lowrie popped one up to shallow left. It fell in between the 2 defenders and Schafer very alertly took 3rd on the play. That is a tough play as it is such a short throw for the left fielder (or 3B or SS depending who else comes out). Schafer's game awareness is spectacular, and his aggressive baserunning really puts the pressure on the opposition. By taking 3rd, Schafer was able to score the first run of the game on Travis Buck's groundout in the next at bat.
*Schafer also stole a bag tonight, his 8th of the season. With his .351 OBP and 8 steals, he is looking awfully good as our leadoff hitter so far.
*JD Martinez got the night off, although he did get one at bat in pinch hitting role (finished 0 for 1), and he finished the game defensively in left field.
*While this is far from your prototypical lineup, I really don't mind it the way Mills has it. Schafer/Altuve are perfect at 1 and 2. Lowrie is a bit of a stretch at 3 as it is typically a spot reserved for your best run producer, but the guy can hit and has even showed a bit of power with his couple of homeruns so far this year. He went 2 for 4 tonight and has a .297/.384/.422 line on the season. Buck hit cleanup and went 0 for 2, but did draw a walk and had an RBI on a fielders choice. Obviously like JD more here, but with the nigh off Buck isn't a bad choice. Downs/Bogusevic/CJ were 5/6/7, and Castro and Norris respectively rounded out the batting order. That is pretty nice pop top to bottom, although tonight the #4 through #9 hitters went a combined 1 for 18 (including the pinch appearances by JD Martinez and Justin Maxwell).
*In fact, the Astros only got 5 hits tonight, and 4 of them were from two players - Schafer with 2, and Lowrie with 2. Matt Downs had the only other hit with his 2 run homerun. Because of the lack of baserunners (the 5 hits plus a walk each by CJ and Buck), the team did only leave 4 men on base. They took advantage of the chances they had against knuckleballer RA Dickey tonight.
*Jose Altuve went 0 for 3 tonight, a rare sight this season. Even with the hitless night, he is still batting an outstanding .360/.404/.547 on the season so far.
*The Astros used 6 different relievers to pitch the final 2.1 innings tonight. Their combined line - 2.1 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 0 BB/ 1 K, and a Win and a Save. 4 of the pitchers only got one out, and one more (Abad) didn't even get one out. Myers had the longest relief outing getting 3 outs in the 9th.
Jed Lowrie's RBI single in the 8th. The game was tied up at 3, the Mets really had all of the momentum as they had just erased the 3-0 deficit...........and Lowrie comes up clutch and puts the Astros ahead for good.
Man of the Match:
While Matt Downs 2 run homerun was huge, i'm going to give this one to Schafer. He went 2 for 4 and basically generated 2 runs himself with his baserunning - the first with his alert move up to 3rd base on the bloop to the left by Lowrie in the 6th, and the other when he stole 2nd in the 8th to put himself in position to be driven home by Lowrie. This risk/reward aggressiveness is great to see and it's paying off. Let's not forget this was also Schafer's 23rd straight game reaching base to start the season - 2 away from a club record.
Goat of the Game:
Tough call here. Perhaps Bogusevic....0 for 3, a strikeout, a man left on base and a caught stealing. Perhaps Bud Norris for letting the Mets climb back into it in the 7th, although he had been spectacular up until then so it's hard to fault him. Maybe even Mills for not pulling Norris sooner once he realized that his fastballs were climbing awfully high in the zone as he got more and more tired in that 7th inning. I'm not going to call any one Goat here, since i'm happy with the win. But i'll leave it up to you guys - who do you think was the Goat tonight?