The Astros' starting lineup was without Michael Bourn (who is down with an oblique injury), Jason Castro, Brett Wallace and Angel Sanchez, but that didn't stop Houston from winning the opener of a four game set against the Washington Nationals. Bourn is expected to miss a couple games with his injury, and I'm going to guess that manager Brad Mills saw the last place Nats on the weekly docket and thought to himself, "Geoff Blum needs an AB or two...let's get him in there". Blum and his fellow replacements, Humberto Quintero and Brian Bogusevic, didn't disappoint, combining to go 5/12 for two homers and 5 RBI. If you couldn't already tell that the Astros were rolling, the fact that both Blum and Quintero went yard, in the same inning no less, should have tipped you off.
Bud Norris allowed ten base runners in 6.2 innings, but only an Adam Dunn double early on went for more than one base. Cudly Budly struck out his typically high number (six), and threw 61% of his pitches for strikes. Not exactly Roy Oswalt, but this is a guy that many of have questions about as a future starting pitcher. Nights like tonight lend credence to the thought that a 25 year old Bud Norris has not yet begun to pitch as well as he possibly can. His 9-8 record won't wow anyone, but he has the opportunity to win double digit games in his first full season as a starting pitcher. In today's game, if nothing else that means that the Astros felt confident enough to throw him out there on a consistent basis.
Through the 150 game mark, our Astros are a remarkable 73-77. Yes, I said remarkable. PECOTA had them winning 76 games and CHONE had us at a tidy 72 victories. Having already surpassed CHONE, and with the more optimistic PECOTA prediction likely to be surpassed as well, these "meaningless" games for the Astros take on certain level of importance heading into the off season. With the AFL coming up quickly, there are all sorts of storylines to follow even if we will be missing post season baseball.