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Swept out of Atlanta, Braves win 7-1

Okay, I think I can speak for all the rest of you when I say we needed a break before this game recap. It's been a tough six-game stretch and it's only going to get tougher this week. The Braves finished off a three-game sweep that saw the Astros pitching staff get Atlanta's offense back on track.

The most disappointing thing about Sunday's game was Bud Norris' performance. His ERA is now in the sevens and his control isn't much better. I'm really torn on him right now. While his control issues and inability to pitch deep in games makes me think he's better suited to relief work, he hasn't given up a home run yet this season and seems to be suffering from a higher line drive rate and a very low ground ball rate. 

One of his problems was infield defense. Jeff Keppinger at shortstop (then being replaced by Geoff Blum) is not a winning combination. We all wondered during spring training what the Astros would do if Manzella struggled. What no one but Stephen anticipated was his problems on defense. Manzella's bat hasn't kept him in the lineup either, but his miscues are forcing Brad Mills to put two below-average defensive shortstops in his place. It's too soon to pull the plug on anyone, but if Manzella is still struggling at the end of May, wouldn't the Astros be better off bringing up Edwin Maysonet and giving him a shot at the position?

At the same time, the Astros bullpen was pretty good, as Chris Sampson, Jeff Fulchino and Brandon Lyon combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings. It remains to be seen whether this will be a strength, but it's nice to not worry about one aspect of this team, right?

The frustrating part about this offense is the top three hitters all had two hits. Keppinger and Bourn both hit doubles, but they were the only two extra base hits the Astros had in the entire series. With Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee, this team should be hitting for more power. The fact that they aren't could be the most frustrating part of the season. 

So, let's just forget this little road trip ever happened. The Astros are coming back home Monday to play a four-game series against the Diamondbacks, one of the hottest hitting teams in baseball. Maybe they can get one win in the next four days?

I'll leave you with this, which describes my reaction to the Astros the past few games: