Lucas Harrell (1-0, 0.00) v.s. Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.38)
It took 11 innings, but the Astros dropped a 5-4 decision to the Marlins tonight to lose their 3rd in a row and drop to 3-4 on the season. This was a tough loss as the Astros fought back from a 4-2 deficit with a 2 run JD Martinez homerun in the 8th to tie the game up, and they had a great chance to take the lead in the top of the 9th. But it wasn't to be as Gaby Sanchez drove in Chris Coghlan with a walk-off double off the left field wall in the bottom of the 11th.
*After a great first outing, Harrell had a very rough go tonight. His line: 4.0 IP / 7 H / 4 ER / 4 BB / 2 K. Of course this is the danger with a pitcher who relies on pitching to contact and forcing groundballs. Some nights these balls are going to find the holes and get by for hits, and that's what happened tonight. Brandon Lyon took the loss and is 0-1 on the year.
*The new Marlins Park is huge. I mean you can read the dimensions and see that it is 344 feet down the left field line or 388 in the left-center power alley....which are big numbers....but until you actually SEE a game played there and see some absolute bombs to left field that would leave many/most MLB ballparks - then you really get a sense of how huge this park is.
*Have you ever seen a smaller strike zone than that of tonight's home plate umpire Paul Nauert? At least he was fair - pitchers on both teams got absolutely jobbed on the strike zone. Many great pitchers at the knees and on the corners were called balls, even when Fox Track clearly showed that they were strikes. That is tough on pitchers and a good reason why both starters threw 85/90 pitches in 4.0/5.0 innings tonight (Harrell/Nolasco respectively).
*Chris Johnson has really picked up his defense. Some GREAT plays tonight on some very tough chances, including a ridiculous catch in the bottom of the 9th where he fell over the railing into the crowd and still somehow managed to catch and hang on to the ball. A huge improvement over his defensive performances in the first few games this season.
*Jason Castro finally broke his early season slump with his first hit and first RBI of the season. He ended up 2 for 5 on the night.
*Jordan Schafer stole 2 more bases and now has 5 on the season. He is now tied for the major league lead. He had 22 steals last year and is on pace to surpass that by far if he keeps up his agressive baserunning.
*Jed Lowrie also stole a base tonight as part of a double steal with Schafer. The Astros are being very agressive on the basepaths this year and it is great to see. When you are a team that doesn't rely on the longball or proven RBI guys, getting on base and moving into scoring position is huge.
*Jed Lowrie had a great first game as an Astro with a 2 for 3 night, scoring 1 run, walking twice, driving in a run and stealing a base. He also made a very nice defensive play and generally looked right at home at shortstop.
*Marlins closer Heath Bell got 2 quick outs in the top of the 9th before rattling off 13 straight balls! He walked the bases loaded and delivered ball 1 to Carlos Lee before finally settling down and getting Carlos Lee to groundout on a checkswing. I can't recall ever seeing that many balls in a row. What looked like a quick inning turned into a real chance to take the lead and possibly sneak out a win.
*With Jed Lowrie's return, Jose Altuve was moved down to 8th in the order and went 0-5. I like Altuve at the top of the order, especially with his patience, but if he can continue getting on base as well as he has, he could be potent at the bottom of the order.
*Bogey went 0 for 4 tonight and is now batting .095 on the year, all from the #5 spot. Travis Buck had a pinch at bat tongiht, and while he grounded out I absolutely love his hustle. Right now if I was Mills i'd be looking to shake things up a bit and at least flip CJ and Bogey around in the order. CJ is still mashing the ball right now and we need him up there with those RBI chances.
*How good is JD Martinez so far. His line on the year is .385/.429/.769. I know it's only been 7 games, but this guy can HIT.
Putting Brandon Lyon in the game. In all seriousness, it's been a rollercoaster ride with him this year. He had a stinker in his first outing of the year, two good outings in between against Atlanta (although in one he only faced one batter) and then his short outing tonight. JD Martinez's homerun in the 8th was also a turning point in that it tied the game and sent it to extras, and it would have been the biggest play of the game had the Astros managed to scrape together the win tonight.
Man of the Match:
I was very impressed with Jed Lowrie's play in his first regular season game as an Astro, but tonight the Man of the Match goes to JD Martinez. He went 2 for 4 at the plate with 2 runs and and 2 RBI's and drew a walk. He also had the big homerun to left field in the 8th which brought in Jed Lowrie and tied up the game. The homerun was the first in Marlins Park history (regular season).
Goat of the Game:
A toss up between Lucas Harrell and Brandon Lyon. Harrell didn't even give us a chance by digging a huge hole in his short 4 innings of work tonight, and Lyon spoiled what was otherwise a great (and long) performance by the entire bullpen tonight.