After Bedard's Gem, Ambriz Allows Big Blow, And Then Big Blow Again

Scott Halleran

Erik Bedard pitched what was easily his best game of the season allowing one run over 7 1/3 strong, but Hector Ambriz gave up a Rickie Weeks two-run homer to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead, and then allowed an Aramis Ramirez home run in the 9th.

This was a tough one to watch. After watching Bedard dominate for the first seven innings I hated to see him lifted in favor of Ambriz with one out in the eighth. It's easy to criticize the pitching change in hindsight, but this may have been one of those night's where it may have been wiser to bring in Veras for the final five outs.

After struggling two starts ago against the Kansas City Royals Erik Bedard was able to build on his last start where he allowed three hits, no earned runs, and struck out six in six innings. Tonight's game was even better as Bedard pitched his best game of the season. His curveball was fantastic tonight, and a big contributor to his eight strikeouts.

Bedard's gem tonight added to the Astros recent run of good pitching. Below is a look at how the Astros starter's have progressed on a month-by-month basis this year so far.

April: 6.08 ERA, 5.23 FIP, 6.86 K/9, 4.24 BB/9

May: 5.23 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 5.28 K/9, 3.95 BB/9

June: 2.35 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 7.04 K/9, 1.96 BB/9

Obviously there's still 12 days left in June and a chance for that stat line to regress, but it shows just how much the Astros rotation has improved this month. With the rotation now stabilized Astros starters have gotten in a groove. Here's hoping that the good fortune can continue.

Now on to the game action.

Brewers starter Kyle Lohse has struggled in the first inning this season, and while he didn't necessarily struggle tonight, he did give up a run in the first. With one out in the bottom of the first Altuve reached on an infield single. He advanced to second on a Jason Castro walk, and later stole third base uncontested. J.D. Martinez brought home Altuve on a sacrifice fly to give the Astros a 1-0 lead after 1.

After that inning Lohse settled in and was able to keep the Astros off the board for the rest of the game. The Astros scattered nine singles and two walks over the rest of the game. Jose Altuve was the only Astro to have a multi-hit game as he went 3-4 with three singles. Altuve has seen his batting average steadily dip as he started with a .330 April, .265 May, and he's currently sitting at .250 in June. Long story short, it's nice to see Altuve collect another multi-hit game, and hopefully he can get back to doing that with some regularity again.

As for the pitching, Erik Bedard was the story of the night. Bedard scattered four singles over seven and a third innings while walking two and striking out eight. He allowed one earned run, which scored after he left the game. He was both effective and efficient as he had only thrown 90 pitches through the first seven innings which allowed him to pitch into the eighth for the first time this season.

Bedard opened the eighth inning with a lead-off walk on a 3-2 count on a close pitch that could have went either way. Logan Schafer followed with a sacrifice bunt effectively ending Bedard's night. Hector Ambriz then relieved Bedard.

And this is where the positive recap evaporates.

Ambriz almost struck out Weeks on a hanging curve that was foul-tipped but Castro just couldn't hold onto it. The next hanging curve by Ambriz to Weeks was deposited into the Crawford boxes and ended all things good tonight. Bedard's gem wasted with one swing of the bat. Happy Mark Appel night wasted with one swing of the bat. Ambriz stayed on to pitch the ninth and allowed his second long ball of the night off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. Ambriz followed that up by hitting Jonathan Lucroy which effectively ended his night.

Josh Fields relieved Ambriz and fared much better by striking out two and inducing an infield popup to end the inning. The damage however had already been done by that time. The Astros were able to make things interesting in the ninth as Carlos Pena and Justin Maxwell singled with one out, but Francisco Rodriguez retired Dominguez and Cedeno to end the Astros frustrating night.

The Astros and Lucas Harrell will try for the series win tomorrow afternoon against Yovani Gallardo.

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