JA Happ (2-2, 5.24) vs Charlie Morton (1-3, 4.61)
The Astros offense continued to struggle and wasted chance after chance, and the Pirates seemed to capitalize on every opportunity as they beat the Astros 5-2 tonight. The division rivals now have identical 15-18 records.
*JA Happ was not sharp against a weak offensive team. His line: 5.0 IP / 6 H / 5 ER / 1 BB / 4 K. Cruz, Abad, Carpenter and Lyon each saw work as well, and threw a combined 4.0 scoreless innings. The "Regulators" (the name the Astros pen has been labelled with lately on Twitter and by Bill Brown & JD tonight) continue to be a very pleasant surprise. Cruz did struggle, but the runs he gave up were tacked on to Happ's line.
*JD Martinez and Chris Johnson both got the night off, with Justin Maxwell & Matt Downs starting in their spots respectively. JD has been getting a ton of time off during his slump lately and one has to wonder if a trip to the minors won't be in his future at some point to work things out.
*Maxwell did drive in one of the Astros two runs tonight on a Fielders Choice groundout. It was part of a disappointing 6th inning where the Astros loaded the bases with none out and only came away with one run.
*These are the types of opportunities the Astros were capitalizing on when they were scoring a lot of runs a couple of weeks ago.
*A bit of bad luck with the umpires again tonight. On a 2-2 pitch to Tabata in the 5th, FSN clearly showed on pitch track that Happ had thrown strike 3 to retire him - but Joyce ruled it a ball. Tabata would homer to shallow right on an afterthought of a swing on his very next pitch.
*The Astros still aren't walking as much as they used to, but they did draw 4 BB to 5 K tonight - a very respectable result. They did not steal a base again however, and have been fairly conservative on the basepaths lately.
*With that said, Jordan Schafer did make a very nice aggressive decision to stretch a single into a close double on his hit that drove in Snyder for the Astros first run. Schafer also made a spectacular grab on a high extension in center field tonight.
The bottom of the 6th. The Astros had just narrowed the deficit to 3-2 in the top half and had some momentum....and it all went out the window when the Pirates scored twice more to extend their lead to 5-2.
Man of the Match:
Going with Jordan Schafer. 2 for 4 with an RBI, a fantastic catch and great heads up baserunning to put himself in position to be driven in (although Lowrie couldn't cash him in).
Goat of the Game:
JA Happ was very hittable again, and gave up a pair of long balls. Each time the Astros scored to make a game of it, Happ let the Pirates extend their lead the next inning.