Well, that didn't take long. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled baseball teams. The Houston Astros will make them a star.
As mike-o and OremLK put it, the Astros are like a bad infomercial right now. The funny thing about this game is that so many things went right for Houston. The bottom half of the roster all hit like gangbusters. Humberto Quintero was 2 for 4 with a double. Tommy Manzella was 2 for 3 with a walk. Yet, the Astros didn't score a run until the ninth inning off Todd Coffey.
Felipe Paulino even had a solid start, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings while striking out four and walking three. He also got ten ground balls and only gave up three line drives. In fact, the only real mistake he made was Ryan Braun's two-run home run in the first inning.
That was enough. The Astros even had great chances to beat up on Randy Wolf, as he had trouble communicating with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Wolf loaded the bases in the top of the second, but Felipe Paulino struck out to end the threat. As No. 8 hitter Manzella walked, Jim Deshaies made a point that I'm not entirely on board with. He said in those situations (men on first and second with two outs), it's the job of the No. 8 hitter to expand the strike zone to drive in a run. The more I thought about it, the more I think Manzella did the exact right thing. Yes, it brought up the pitcher, who has a very small shot to get a hit. But, Manzella has just started swinging the bat a little better. By making him change his approach and expand his zone, aren't you screwing up a good thing? What happens the next time he comes up in the game, with a different situation?
I know the eighth hitter has a very different job than most. It's their job to protect the pitcher, to get on base sometimes to keep an inning alive and avoid leading off the next with the pitcher. It takes a special kind of player to hit in the No. 8 spot. At the same time, don't you have to look at Manzella's development as a big league hitter?
At any rate, because of a four-run seventh inning off Chris Sampson, this game devolved from a tight 2-1 battle to a blowout. How many times has that happened to the Astros this season? At least we can take comfort that we've gotten the Brewers back on the right course...