Wandy Rodriguez continued his excellent pitching in the second half of the season, and the Astros continued giving doses of lefthand pitching hell to the Cardinals. The Astros have shut out the Cardinals for two straight games. With a complete game shutout last night, J.A. Happ threw a 2-hitter. Wandy pitched 7 inning and only allowed 2 hits. Overall the Astros' pitching must have let up a bit, allowing 3 hits in this game.
Last week the Astros let the air out of the Phillies balloon, leaving that team's playoff chances in slightly tattered position. This week the Astros are inflicting damage on the fading Cardinals' playoff chances. The Astros will send Nelson Figueroa to face Jeff Suppan--fresh off a minor league rehab stint--tomorrow, hoping that the afternoon game produces a sweep.
Wandy Rodriguez effectively used his full repertoire to stay in control of the Cardinals. But the obvious big play in this game was the triple by Pence which drove Bourn and Sanchez home. Carpenter appeared to be as much in control as Wandy up to that point. Bourn and Sanchez did a good job getting on base, and Pence drove a ball toward Tal's Hill. Colby Rasmus, running toward the Hill, seemed confused by the distance of the ball as it went over his head, falling in front of him. The ball rolled up Tal's Hill and around the flagpole in putt-putt fashion, with Rasmus scampering after it. Later that inning, Chris Johnson showed good patience, hitting a soft liner the opposite way to drive in the 3d run. That's all it took, thanks to Wandy, Lopez, and Lyon. And thank goodness for those runs, because Carpenter continued his strong pitching in the subsequent innings. Tim Byrdak replaced Wandy in the 8th and walked his one batter, sending a few shudders through the Astros' fans. But Wilton Lopez put on his Superman cape and saved the day, inducing three straight outs. In typical fashion, Brandon Lyon put more runners on base than you would like, before closing out the game with no runs and an official save.
For the Cardinals, this has to be the worst of times. Coming into this game, the Cardinals had a .205 batting average and .348 slugging percent in Minute Maid Park. And the results of this game won't improve those numbers. The Cardinals haven't had a runner reach 3d base in the two games of this series so far.
I'll end with a "post of the game" from tonight's game thread. It's by Timmy in the 9th inning as Feliz makes the second out:
"Feliz being Feliz in Minute Maid Park."