Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G90 - Astros @ Padres


J.A. Happ (6-9, 5.14) vs Kip Wells (1-2, 2.50)

The Astros landed in San Diego with the worst road record in the league; the Padres took the field last night with the league's worst home record. "Something's gotta give," Fred Astaire said, and fortunately for Houston, that "something" was their 13-game road losing streak. Astros win, 2-0, stopping the streak one game shy of the franchise record. They're now 34-56, 1.5 games back of Colorado and San Diego for climbing out of the MLB cellar.

*J.A. Happ was rock solid on this night, proving to be just what Houston needed to snap their road skid. He was lifted when he ran into trouble in the 7th, but he still kept San Diego off the board for 6+ innings, ending with a 6.1 IP / 4 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K line. Fernando Rodriguez inherited two runners from Happ, then walked his first hitter for a baserunner of his own, but he escaped the inning with a strikeout and a fly out to preserve the shutout. Wilton Lopez allowed a hit and struck out one in the 8th, then Brett Myers did likewise in the 9th for his 19th save.

Observations:

*The Astros' offense had only five hits again tonight, but they took advantage of wildness by San Diego pitching, walking 9 times. That tied Houston's season high for walks in a game, also against the Padres back on June 25 at Minute Maid.

*Houston also capitalized on the running game, exploiting Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal (6% CS) and stealing five times - Schafer twice, Altuve, Bogusevic, and Gonzalez. That was easily a season high for the Astros, besting their previous high of three steals in a game, done on six occasions.

*Jose Altuve led off the game with a double and scored both Houston runs, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a HBP.

*Scott Moore drove in Altuve both times on sac flies to left, ending up 1 for 2 with a HBP.

*Chris Johnson made the most out of the wildness by Padre pitching, going 0 for 2 with a K, but walking three times.

*Both of Schafer's steals came after walks. He'd finish 0 for 1 with a sac bunt in the 6th.

*Marwin Gonzalez was 2 for 4 for the second consecutive game since coming back off the DL, also walking once and making a pair of great plays on defense. He's looking like a solid fill-in for however long Jed Lowrie is out.

*Ultimately every Astros position player reached base at least once, with the exception of Justin Maxwell. Starting in left and batting in the cleanup spot, Maxwell went 0 for 5 with 2 K.

Turning Point:

We already talked about the bottom of the 7th, when F-Rod bailed out Happ (and himself), and Houston scored what would be the winning run on the third batter of the game. But the tone of the game was set when, after a one-out double by Alexi Amarista in the 1st, Happ retired the next 12 straight Padre hitters, until a one-out single by Logan Forsythe in the 5th. You got the feeling that he would make Houston's two early runs stand up, and as it turned out, he did.

Man of the Match:

J.A. Happ. As frustrating as he is to watch sometimes, he was the man tonight for Houston, turning in his 12th quality start in 18 outings this season.

Goat of the Game:

Justin Maxwell. The game could have been much less close with a timely hit or two from J-Max, who left 6 runners on in his at bats. Fortunately Houston's pitching staff tonight made sure that it didn't matter.

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