June 27, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell (64) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Great pitching duel tonight as both starter's Lucas Harrell and Clayton Richard pitched gems. Harrell managed to pick up the second complete game shutout by an Astros starter this season. He made things interesting in the ninth though with a lead off single and a walk to put runners on first and second. A single to left looked like it would tie the game, but J.D. Martinez had other ideas in mind, and nailed the runner at the plate. With two outs in the ninth Harrell walked the bases loaded, and credit Brad Mills for leaving Harrell in the game for a chance to nail this one down. Harrell looked like he was tiring in the ninth, but had just enough left in the tank to get the job done, and struck out Hundley to end the game.
Harrell's last two starts have been very impressive. He's demonstrated that he can be more than just a groundball pitcher, and that he possesses swing and miss stuff. The disclaimer here is that both of these outings came against pretty anemic offenses, but were impressive none the less. It will be interesting to see where Harrell ends up at the end of the season. We could be pleasantly surprised.
So how good was Lucas Harrell tonight? He followed up a seven inning outing in which he allowed only two hits and recorded nine strikeouts with a complete game shutout, allowing six hits this time and seven strikeouts. All of the hits tonight were singles, and one of them was an infield hit by the pitcher, and one a misjudged fly by right fielder Brian Bixler that may or may not have been catchable anyways. Regardless, Harrell was not hit all that hard tonight.
Harrell cruised through the first three innings. In the fourth he pitched around two walks, and in the fifth he pitched around two singles to continue to hold the Padres scoreless. He was on cruise control again in innings six through eight and only allowed one single. After eight innings pitched Harrell was sitting at only 85 pitches, which set the stage for Harrell to join Keuchel with a complete game shutout. The ninth did not go as easy as the first eight however, and Harrell kept Astros fans on the edge of their seats before ending the game with a strikeout. Great game for Harrell.
Not much to report here as the Astros were only able to muster up two hits against Padres pitching tonight. Fortunately one of them was a no doubter to left center off the bat of Matt Downs to put the Astros in front 1-0, which ended up being all of the offense Harrell needed. The other hit was a single off the bat of J.D. Martinez. Other than that Padres starter Clayton Richard shut down the rest of the Astros lineup tonight. The Astros were also unable to work any free passes tonight and struck out six times. To sum it up, rough night in the batter's box, thank goodness for Matt Downs and Lucas Harrell.
There weren't any errors made by the Astros tonight, but there were a few misplayed balls. I talked a little bit about the Brian Bixler play in the outfield, and the only other play was the infield hit by pitcher Clayton Richard. It was a groundball up the middle that Downs took an extra second before making the throw to first to just miss Richard. Neither play's were all that bad, just worth noting I suppose. Carlos Lee also had a humorous play in the eight on a groundball that he knocked down, and then scrambled into foul territory before picking up the ball scrawled out on the ground and touching the bag with his foot for an out.
I think I may have missed one here. Ah yes, how about that ninth inning laser by J.D. Martinez to Chris Snyder to nail the runner at the plate and keep the game scoreless.
Dallas Keuchel who pitched a complete game shutout himself his last time out wraps up the series against the Padres tomorrow night.