; Houston Astros pitcher Wilton Lopez wears the Colt 45 jersey against the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
The Astros were the Colt 45s in this game. And they were a little too much like the expansion Colt 45s when it came to the result: they lost. The Astros hung around in this game with chances to win it, but whenever they had the best opportunities to take the game, they used that revolver on their jersey to shoot themselves in the foot.
This loss brings the Astros and their previous 3-1 record back to earth. Meanwhile, the Braves were in a desperate situation, coming into the game with a 0-4 record and needing to avoid a fifth straight loss to begin the season---which they did. As one of the commenters in the game thread noted, this game featured the Astros' No. 5 starter vs. the Braves' No. 1 starter. Maybe the result isn't surprising.
25 year old Kyle Weiland made his first appearance as a starter. Weiland didn't pitch badly, but all in all, I would call the performance so-so. Weiland seemed to rely more heavily on his breaking pitches than the sinker in this game. And his breaking pitches were nasty. Sometimes the Braves' batters looked silly trying to make contact with his cutters, sliders and curveballs. Weiland also had some trouble with a tight strike zone that left quite a few well located fastballs called balls. But my impression is that Weiland didn't have his usual control in this game. He usually has few walks, but he walked two batters in five innings. By his own admission Weiland was too "amped up" which hurt his command.
The worst damage for Weiland occurred in a three run 3d inning, on a double by Uggla and a 2-run HR by Chipper Jones. The big hits by Uggla and Chipper were both on sliders. Rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky popped a short solo HR into the Crawford Boxes in the 4th inning. After the game, Weiland was most upset by the pitch to Uggla, because he had a 0-2 count on him with 2 outs. Weiland allowed 8 hits in 5 innings with 5 Ks and 2 BBs. After the Astros decided to go with two rookies in the rotation, Jeff Luhnow said that he expected some bumpy games along the way....and this is one of them.
The bullpen was not exactly air tight in this game. Brandon Lyon was the only reliever with a clean inning. Wilton Lopez and David Carpenter each allowed a run, and the two runs prevented the Astros' come backs from tying the game. Carpenter's run came without allowing a hit: he walked Bourn to start the inning, and the former Astro eventually scored on a grounder.
Tommy Hanson came into this game as a young Astros-killer, with an ERA against the Astros below 1. If you're a glass half full fan, you can point out that scoring 2 runs off Hanson is an improvement over their usual effort against him. If you're a glass half empty kind of fan, then you can't forget the numerous opportunities that the Astros squandered with runners on base. The Astros had 12 hits and 5 walks (two by Carlos Lee); you hope to translate that many runners into more than 4 runs. I'll break the offense down, spaghetti western style (it is Colt 45 night, after all).
THE GOOD. Jordan Shafer gave the Astros everything that a lead off man should. Shafer went 3 for 5, scored 2 runs, and stole 3 bases. Jose Altuve went 2 for 5, giving a supporting role to Shafer at the top of the order. Carlos Lee went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs and 2 walks. He appeared to hit a game tying 3 run HR at one point, only to have the ball hit the Crawford Box wall and end up as a solo RBI single. Chris Johnson appears on both the Good and the Bad list, which exemplifies a schizophrenic game for him. Johnson had a double and single, scoring a run and driving in a run. Marwin Gonzalez continues to surprise with a hit now and then, with a RBI single and a walk to his credit.
THE BAD. The Astros let the Braves off the hook by leaving runners on base. Chris Johnson was the final out in the two innings with the best scoring opportunities. and at the final tally, he left 7 runners on base. But he wasn't alone. Chris Snyder and J.D. Martinez each left 5 runners on base, and Brian Bogusevic left 4 runners on base. In high leverage situations, Hanson wanted no part of Carlos Lee, pitching around him and going after Martinez, Bogusevic, and Johnson.
THE UGLY. The Astros had numerous failed opportunities with a runner at 3d and less than 2 outs. This included bases loaded and 2 runners on base, no out situations J.D. Martinez had three strike outs in the game that looked ugly.
Unlike the previous 3 games this year, no errors were committed by either side. Generally the defense was good by both teams. On one or two occasions, the middle infield failed to complete a double play that seemed possible, but this may be nitpicking.