When I was looking through Hunter Pence's stats for this morning's article, I was struck by one in particular. Pence has hit .326/.380./.570 in the 62 wins he's been in the lineup for and .256/.287/393 in the 68 losses. Basically, as goes Hunter Pence, so go the Astros.
That was pretty evident on Sunday, when Pence's three-run home run proved the difference in the victory over the Diamondbacks. Pence's blast was also his first hit to right field this season, which is pretty remarkable. The three runs also came in the first inning, which gave starter JA Happ plenty of cushion to hold down Arizona.
Happ was also very good, despite giving up two solo home runs to right field. Other than those two hits, Happ was as good as the Astros could have hoped, going seven innings while striking out seven and walking two. He gave up six hits and the two runs on the homers before turning the game over to Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom, though the usual order was reversed. On Sunday, it was Lyon who pitched the ninth inning, picking up his 13th save.
Happ managed to get out of a couple jams with the help of his defense and timely pitching. In the fifth inning, Stephen Drew hit an infield single to Jeff Keppinger. Kepp made a diving stop on the ball about a foot into the outfield grass.
Catcher John Hester was on second when Drew hit the ball and tried to score from third after Kepp made the dive, but Kepp alertly popped up and threw a strike to Jason Castro at the plate. Castro was run over by Hester, but held onto the ball for the final out of the inning. Happ was also in trouble in the seventh inning, after giving up two one-out singles to put runners at first and second. He then struck out Hester and Ryan Roberts to get out of the jam. Both times, he struck them out swinging.
The last little note I wanted to talk about with this game is Angel Sanchez. The rookie shortstop is 6 for 14 in the past four games, hitting two triples, scoring three runs while stealing a base. His batting average is up to .274, even if his OBP is just at .302 and his SLG is a mediocre .345. It's safe to say that Sanchez has brought more of a bat to the position than I expected when we traded for him back in June.
A good win, and a good series win before the Astros move on to face the Cubs in a Labor Day day game at Wrigley Field. I have to work, but for those of you lucky enough to be off and watch the game, drink a cold beverage for me.