Astros fizzle in final game of Pirates' series

This was an altogether frustrating game for Astros' fans.  And it must have been really frustrating for J.A. Happ.  Happ gave up zero earned runs and 4 hits in 6 innings, yet took the loss.  Happ was the victim of some poor fielding by the Astros defense.  And he wasn't the only Astros pitcher who didn't get a lot of help from the defense.  This is a thoroughly forgettable game for pitchers who came out of the bullpen, like Melancon and Paulino, too.

Felipe Paulino saw his ERA shoot up to 5.22 based on his short relief stint.  Paulino, who has a 4.40 ERA as starter this year, faced some hurdles today: defensive misplays, giving up a couple of ill-timed line drives, and leaving the bases loaded for Tim Byrdak, who promptly allowed all of Paulino's runs to score.

Probably the most critical play in today's game was the error on catcher Jason Castro in the 6th inning.  With runners on 2d and 3d, with 1 out, Happ induced a groundball to third base and the Astros had what appeared to be an easy out as the runner on third base, with questionable base running, headed toward home plate. Chris Johnson ran behind the base ,runner until he was a short distance from Castro at home plate, and then made a soft short throw to Castro, who dropped the ball.  The runner scored and another runner moved up to 3d base and subsequently scored on a sac fly.  Both runs were unearned, and in my eyes, both Johnson and Castro played it poorly.  (Reportedly, Mills felt that Johnson was the main culprit-- waiting too long to throw the ball.)   But Castro got the error.  As Art Howe would say later, if that misplay doesn't occur, Happ gets out of the inning without allowing a run, stays in the game, and perhaps gets the win.

The Astros' hitters seemed generally befuddled by that Astros-Killer, Paul Maholm.  The offensive highlights were a 2 run blast to CF by Hunter Pence, which went a long, long way, and a 2 for 4 game by Carlos Lee.  But overall the offense looked lifeless in this game.

What else can I say?  Well, forget about this game and move on to the Reds, as the season winds down.  That's what I'll say.

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