Bud Norris (6-13, 4.82) vs Chris Volstad (3-11, 6.64)
It's like 1986 all over again. If you gave up on the Astros after their awful July and August (and really, who could blame you?), then you're missing some of their best baseball of the season now. Bud Norris stayed true to the BudChuck form he rediscovered against St. Louis last week, leading a cast of five Astros pitchers to their third straight shutout victory, 3-0. It's the first time since Mike Scott cemented his place in Houston lore that the Astros have pitched three straight shutouts. The team is now at 55-106, with one game left to play in the National League.
*As awful as Bud Norris was for four winless months, he's left all of that behind to end the season. Studly Cuddly Budly delivered his second straight scoreless outing, this time holding the Cubs to just four hits in six innings, concluding his 2012 season with a 6 IP / 4 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 2 BB / 4 K line. The bullpen, too, was equally brilliant again, with Xavier Cedeno (1 IP, 2 K), Chuckie Fick (0.1 IP), Wesley Wright (0.2 IP, 2 K), and Wilton Lopez (1 IP, BB) combining on three hitless, scoreless innings to end the game. Houston pitching has now not allowed an earned run in 31.1 consecutive innings.
*Tonight's game was the first meeting of two 100-loss teams since the Colt .45s' birth year, when the Cubs and the Mets squared off on September 30, 1962.
*A home run once again got the Astros on the board, with Jason Castro going deep on a solo shot in the 2nd. It was his sixth HR of the year and his third in his last seven games. He finished 1 for 4 with a K.
*This was the Astros' sixth straight game with a home run, tying their longest such stretch of the season (done twice before).
*Tyler Greene drove in Houston's second run in the 2nd, finishing 2 for 3 with a steal.
*Justin Maxwell went 0 for 4 with a strikeout, but he reached on a Starlin Castro error in the 2nd and scored on Greene's RBI single. He also played all three outfield spots, again.
*Brett Wallace went 1 for 3 with a walk.
*Brian Bogusevic walked as a pinch hitter in the 8th, then came around to score on an error, a groundout, and a wild pitch.
*Jose Altuve (0 for 3) and Scott Moore (0 for 1, K) both left the game early due to injuries. Altuve re-aggravated the groin injury that's seen him miss a few games in recent weeks, and Moore irritated the AC joint in his left shoulder when diving for a ball in RF in the 2nd.
Once again, Astros pitching made sure that the lead they were given stayed secure. After groundouts by Matt Dominguez and Brett Wallace started the 2nd, Jason Castro took Chris Volstad deep to right to put Houston on the board. Justin Maxwell came next and made it all the way to second on a fielding error by Starlin Castro, then Tyler Greene drove him in with a single in one pitch later for a 2-0 Astros lead.
Man of the Match:
Bud Norris. Like Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles before him, BudChuck has ended his 2012 season on an outstanding note.
It only took until October 2, but with this win, the Astros have clinched their first winning road trip of the season. If they can complete the sweep tomorrow afternoon, they'll finish with a 56-106 record, identical to last year.