HOUSTON TX - JULY 24: Francisco Cordero #37 of the Houston Astros leaves in the ninth inning after giving up the go ahead runs against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on July 24, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Cincinnati Reds win 4-2. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The big story of the night was that Wandy Rodriguez was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The trade has already been talked about here tonight so I won't go into detail about it, but I will say that the Astros rotation is likely to struggle the rest of the season without J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez. Still, the future is looking bright...Now on to the game.
I'm beginning to love games that fall on a Lucas Harrell start. He is slowly becoming the most consistent starter for the Astros, and even if I'm not that confident in an Astros win (who is these days) I still feel confident that I am going to see a well pitched game. Harrell is one of the few bright spots on a Houston team that has struggled this season. As the season marches on there's not a whole lot to complain about Harrell's progression this season. He's improved every month, and is a pitcher that is getting groundball outs at a good clip with an improving strikeout rate. He's always had good but inconsistent stuff, and it's nice to see the results start to catch up to his stuff.
Tonight was another one of Harrell's good games. He lasted seven innings, allowed one earned run and three walks, while recording six strikeouts. Harrell battled through the early innings running his pitch count high early in the game, and ended with a 121 pitches thrown in his seven innings of work. Still it was a nice outing by Harrell and he now has his strikeout rate just under six (5.99 K/9), and now that Wandy is gone Harrell will be a very important part of the Astros rotation the rest of the season.
The offense didn't do Harrell any favors tonight. The offense got a total of eight hits tonight, seven singles and only one extra base hit. Fortunately that extra base hit was a two-run homer off of the bat of Justin Maxwell, but unfortunately that is where the scoring ended. Altuve and Johnson both had multi-hit games, and Marwin Gonzalez also reached base twice with a single and a walk, but other than that there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about tonight offensively.
The 2-1 Astros lead held up in this pitcher's duel until the 9th inning when newly acquired and defacto closer Francisco Cordero coughed up the lead for the blown save and loss. The big blow of that inning was a 2-run shot by Drew Stubbs. It was Cordero's 4th blown save of the year and his 6th loss.
To sum things up, tonight was a very winnable game for the Astros, and Cordero's meltdown in the 9th cost Harrell a much deserved win.