There was the good, the bad and the ugly wrapped into the Astros 10-7 slugfest loss to the Mariners on Friday night.
First, the good: Brandon Barnes hitting for the cycle. It was quite a moment for the 27-year old outfielder when he slid into second base headfirst for a double to finish his cycle. Barnes came into the game having only three hits in the month of July and got the tough ones out of the way early with a solo home run in the second inning and a RBI triple in the fourth.
Barnes singled through the right side in the sixth and then got his double in the eighth with a ground ball down the first base line. Seattle's Michael Saunders made a nice play on the ball in right field and may have had Barnes gunned at second, but big ups to second base umpire Todd Tichenor for letting the Astros have something go their way. It was the first Astros cycle since Luke Scott's on July 28, 2006.
Check out the GIF below created by the Crawfish Boxes' Timothy De Block of Barnes' four hits for the cycle (not included here is Barnes' swinging bunt, infield hit in the ninth that made him 5-for-5 on the night).
But wait, there's more good! Brett Wallace continued his power surge with an absolute bomb to right-center field in the eighth inning, his fifth home run of the year. Also, the Astros had a whopping 16 hits. Jake Elmore, Jose Altuve, Jason Castro and Justin Maxwell all had two-hit nights for Houston.
A perfect segway into the bad. The Astros combined to leave seven runners in scoring position with two outs on the night, with Chris Carter stranding three and Matt Dominguez, Castro and Elmore all leaving one. As a team, Houston left 11 men on the base paths.
But, seven runs isn't a bad number unless you get poor starting pitching and that is what the Astros got. Bud Norris labored through his 5.2 innings of work, allowing six earned runs on six hits to go along with four walks. He also allowed two homers, including a moonshot to Brad Miller (his first career jack) on Norris' 121st and final pitch of the night. Norris has done a good job of bouncing back after rough outings this season, but after getting shelled for seven runs against St. Louis his last time out, this wasn't good to see.
Now to the ugly - that Astros bullpen. Before getting all riled up about Hector Ambriz, also note that Josh Fields was ineffective tonight as well. Fields started the eighth by walking the eight and nine batters in the Seattle lineup, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley. The next batter was Miller, and he got his second career long ball on an almost identical inside fastball to the one that Norris served up in the sixth.
As for Ambriz, it didn't go as bad as it could have. The first pitch he threw in his return from AAA Oklahoma City was to lefty Justin Smoak, who smoked a line drive homer into the right field seats. The next batter, also left-handed, was Saunders who lined a first pitch single. Lefties are hitting a ridiculous .377 off Ambriz, and he still faced three more of them, but managed to get out of the inning without allowing further damage.
Erik Bedard goes on Saturday for the 'Stros as they try to find some July wins. Houston has three triumphs so far this month which equals the total number of victories from July 2012.