The Bullpen Implosion Is Upon Us, Astros Lose 7-5

HOUSTON,TX- APRIL 9 : Angel Sanchez scores on Hunter Pence's RBI in the bottom of the first inning

I'll be real honest with you, Astros fans. If this team scores five runs in a game, the pitching needs to hold that lead. That's a lot of runs. Roy Oswalt would have killed for five runs in support last season.

Reliever just can't come in and give up runs in bunches like they have in the past couple of games. The same goes for Bud Norris, who was great for five innings and crapped the bed in the sixth. Still, Norris left the Astros with a chance to win, as the Marlins simply tied the game at 4-4 after his disastrous sixth inning. 

In what has been two straight redemptive starts for Astros pitchers, Norris looked good for much of this game. He allowed just five hits, four runs and two walks while striking out six. Three of those five hits also came in the sixth, when Norris gave up a double to Mike Stanton and a home run to Gregg Dobbs.

The real blows came when Fernando Abad gave up two runs in 2/3 of an inning and Enerio De Rosario gave up an unearned run in the eighth. Those made the run the Astros finally eked out in the bottom of the eighth slightly meaningless (much like Friday's late inning heroics).

As I said, the pitching breakdowns late erased what was a pretty nice offensive game for Houston. Angel Sanchez continued his hot start, going 2 for 4 with with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Hunter Pence was 2 for 5 with another double as he continues to make the Cincinnati series more like a speed bump to an otherwise nice start. Even Carlos Lee got in on the action, doubling in the eighth and scoring on a Brett Wallace single.

The Astros have a young bullpen. It's a good group, but they're still young. For all the promise that Fernando Abad has shown, he needs to learn. I wonder, though, why Mills didn't run in Melancon there. The only left-hander Abad was scheduled to face was Chris Coghlan. I know Mills doesn't think of him as the typical situational lefty, but that's exactly how he's used him this season. Melancon hasn't pitched since Thursday and has yet to give up a run. I don't like second-guessing the manager, but he's certainly made me scratch my head some with his bullpen selection the past two games.

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