Harrell Shuts Down Colorado, Houston Wins 7-3

April 7, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third base coach Dave Clark (35) congratulates center fielder Jordan Schafer (1) on hitting a home run against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Keep dreaming, you beautiful Astros.

This is exactly the kind of game this particularly constructed Houston team was born to play. Plenty of potential on display here, with J.D. Martinez and Jordan Schafer showing off some power, with Lucas Harrell showing why he was plugged into the rotation and with a host of other players chipping in with key moments.

Why is Travis Buck on this team? Two nights, two extra-base pinch hits. No big deal.

Why is Chris Johnson on this team? (Hint: not for his defense) Two hits, a hustle double and even a sneaky stolen base.

With no help from Carlos Lee, J.D. chipped in with three RBIs and a big two-run home run off Jamie Moyer. With no Jose Altuve starting, Brian Bixler drew a crucial walk and went 1 for 3 with a run scored. Even Marwin Gonzalez had a double in the gap to show more power than Houston usually has at shortstop.

All through the lineup, the Astros played just like they were drawn up. The bullpen faltered a little and there were some shaky moments defensively, but overall, Houston can come out of this one feeling good.

They won't always get the kind of help from Colorado in the error department and I'm not sure Lucas Harrell will ever leg out another bunt like he did in this one. But, as a bounce-back game from a very winnable opener that broke bad, this one was very welcome.

Offense

Martinez is the man here, going 2 for 4 with the home run and three RBIs. But, there were plenty of other contributors. Houston had six extra-base hits and four total home runs. Last season, it took Houston seven games before the Astros hit four home runs. This time? Two games, four homers. I'm not sure this power surge will continue, but it's a very welcome addition for a team that has been pretty punchless for a couple years now.

My favorite postgame quote: "When you're facing 95 (MPH) most games, it's like...it's like facing BP." -- J.D. Martinez on facing Jamie Moyer.

Pitching

What can you say about Lucas Harrell? He was throwing strikes, striking people out and not walking anyone. Add in his 13 ground ball outs and he did exactly what Houston has asked of him. Against a guy who lives on control (Jamie Moyer), Harrell bested him all game long.

The bullpen wasn't as good, as Brandon Lyon gave up some huge fly balls. One carried and carried and carried for a home run by Michael Cuddyer. Another was a looong fly out to Jordan Schafer, almost on Tal's Hill. Lyon knows the fences weren't moved out this season, right?

Rhiner Cruz came in and picked up Wesley Wright in the ninth, getting a strikeout in his only at-bat. Cruz needed just four pitches to ring up the self-same Cuddyer. Again, that just highlights the potential Cruz has, which made the Astros keep him on the roster. Let's not go crazy, but a good first step.

Next

The Astros will try to win their first series of the season tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. when Bud Norris takes on Juan Nicasio. Yours truly will be at the game, in the press box, trying to be a big league writer, so if you have any questions you'd like me to drop on one of the players or Brad Mills, leave 'em in the comments.

Houston could take their first series of the season in the first series of the season. They didn't win a series last season until series No. 6 against the New York Mets. Houston didn't win their second game last season until game no. 9.

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