Clayton Richard (5-7, 3.95) vs Lucas Harrell (6-6, 4.77)
When Lucas Harrell faced the Indians last Friday, he threw possibly the best game of his young big league career, surrendering only one run on two hits over seven innings, but he still walked away the loser. Tonight, the Astros were the team to only get one run on two hits, but this time it was enough. Astros win 1-0, for a 32-43 mark overall.
*Harrell took the Astros wire to wire this night, tossing his first professional complete game at any level. His line: 9 IP / 6 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 4 BB / 7 K. That lowered his personal ERA to 4.33, and Houston now has a team ERA of 2.34 over their last 8 games.
*Just when we want to question why Matt Downs and his .172 batting average are still on the big league roster, he delivered the decisive blow tonight. His solo shot against Clayton Richard to lead off the 3rd was the only run support that Harrell would receive, but it was also all that he needed.
*J.D. Martinez had Houston's only other hit, a leadoff single in the 2nd. Martinez now has a five-game hitting streak, and he's hitting .324 since June 16.
*Downs' homer gives the Astros at least one HR now in five straight games. That's their longest such streak since they homered in six straight April 29-May 5.
*As Zach Levine points out, Downs' HR rate since joining Houston matches Jeff Bagwell's career rate - one HR for every 21 PA.
The Downs homer would be the easy pick, but with one out and two on in the 9th, Harrell gave up a single to Logan Forsythe into left field. J.D. Martinez scooped up the ball and threw a strike on the fly to Chris Snyder to gun down Alexi Amarista at the plate, preserving the shutout and ultimately the win.
Man of the Match:
Lucas William Bradley Harrell. His complete game shutout is Houston's first of 2012, and the win for him is well-deserved.
Goat of the Game:
Any Astros hitter not named Downs (or possibly Martinez). But really, this was Harrell's night, so let's not be too negative, mmkay?