The ever-astute AstrosBrit made an excellent point earlier. In response to my wondering about the Astros bullpen, he pointed out that Houston simply needed to take some pressure off the relievers. He also said that the Astros only had 12 wins of more than 4 runs last season. As currently put together, this just isn't an offense that can blow other teams out very often. That puts a lot more pressure on late-inning relievers to lock down the opposing team and can lead to guys pressing if things don't go well.
This year's version of the Astros isn't as offensively inept, but they don't have much home run power. They do have a bunch of good hitters, though, and this game is as good a template for how the Astros can score a lopsided victory with this kind of offense. Namely, a bunch of guys stringing hits together until something good happens.
In this one, the good things were a couple of timely errors by the Marlins and a few well-timed doubles and triples. In that respect, the Astros have good power; it's just gap power. It's harder to swing that gap power into a momentum-changer, but when you've got five or six guys locked in like in this game, good things can happen.
Every Astros starter picked up a hit in this game, including J.A. Happ, who had a crucial two-run double and was 2 for 3 on the day. Five different Astros collected RBIs while six scored a run. Michael Bourn had two doubles while the ever-struggling Bill Hall was 1 for 3 with a triple and two runs scored.
Hunter Pence also continued his hot streak, going 3 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. That raised his batting average to .324, after he struggled so mightily in Cincinnati. Angel Sanchez also collected three hits, raising his average to a team-leading .364. That puts him into the Top 15 batting averages in the entire National League.
This victory wouldn't be quite complete without mentioning the excellent effort Happ put up on the mound. By pitching 7 2/3 innings and allowing four hits, one run and four walks, Happ took good amount of pressure off that bullpen himself. Happ also struck out five, which gives him seven in 11 2/3 innings this season.
Remember all those good signs we pointed to in the past couple of games, despite the losses? This was a game where the Astros put all those good things together. Don't be surprised if they carry that through to a nice series against the Cubbies.