Apr 9, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ (30) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Can it be? The Astros? Winning? Yes, yes it is! With today's win over the Braves, the Houston Astros are two games above .500 and are just behind the Cardinals in the NL Central with a 3-1 record to start the year. The Astros started a 3-game series against the Braves in somewhat a blowout fashion. If you ask me what's so great about this game, I would say I'm not even sure because awesome just got spilled all over the place. J.A. Happ pitched surprisingly well considering his past struggles. The Astros took advantage of the Braves' 4 errors and sloppy play. Jeff Luhnow sure looked good in grabbing Justin Maxwell off of waivers because in his pinch-hit AB in the 8th inning with a runner on first, he hit an absolute BOMB to LF just right of the Crawford Boxes. The Astros also had another error-free game. Hopefully the momentum will continue tomorrow when Kyle Weiland gets his first start of the season.
Pitching: J.A. Happ continued the precedent set by the first 3 other Astros starting pitchers this year by pitching a 6-inning, 3-run quality start with 9 ground ball outs and only 2 fly ball outs. He looked a little shaky in the 2nd and 3rd innings, but he didn't throw a lot of his characteristically high fastballs that he usually shows in games he does not pitch well in. But this was a good game for Happ, especially considering how badly he got started last year. The 3rd inning was the last time the Braves scored in this game.
Wesley Wright came into the game in the 7th inning, getting a ground ball from the right handed batter to face two left handed batters in a row. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning. In the 8th, he gave up a hit to a right-handed batter, but got the following lefty out. Brad Mills walked out to the mound with the call being given to Fernando Rodriguez who came in to finish the inning with a strikeout. In the 9th, David Carpenter received his first call from the bullpen this year and pitched a scoreless inning.
Offense: The Astros combined for 11 hits, 3 walks and only 5 strikeouts. The only players in the lineup not to get a hit were Brian Bogusevic and Jason Castro. Several Astros had good games. Marwin Gonzalez went 3-4 with a long double that was almost a homerun. Gonzalez has looked impressive in these past game, looking composed at the plate as well as on defense. J.D. Martinez came in to pinch-hit and hit a single to CF to drive in a run. And how about that Justin Maxwell? In his first PA with the Astros, he hit a 2-run BOMB to just right of the LF Crawford Boxes in his first day officially in Texas. Boy was his homer something special.
Jose Altuve continued his slew of walks, exhibiting the much improved plate discipline he has worked on. Altuve went 1-3 with a walk and a sac-fly. In his first start of the season, Travis Buck went 1-5 with 3 strikeouts, but had a nice double down the 3rd-base line, driving in two base runners.
Defense: The Astros had solid defense all around. J.A. Happ and Jason Castro let a few balls go wild, leading to advancing baserunners. Happ himself tried to field a play, but did not get the glove onto the ball. Overall, the Astros did well; The Rockies did not.
For those who were unable to watch the game, here is a link to some satisfying and pleasing videos of the Astros pummeling the Braves.
The Astros will put Kyle Weiland on the mound against the Braves' Tommy Hanson at 7:05 CT on Tuesday evening. Hanson has been an Astros killer in the past, but hopefully tomorrow will be the exception. The game will be televised on FS-H, DishHD-9575, DirecTV-678, Dish440 and will be on radio KTRH 740, KLAT 1010.