The 2013 Astros bullpen is bad. Historically bad.
Most readers of The Crawfish Boxes already know this, so Saturday night was just another chapter in the story of this frustrating season of being a Houston fan.
Lucas Harrell had a solid spot start on Tuesday in place of the recently departed Bud Norris, but now he is back in the bullpen and had a rough seventh inning in relief of Erik Bedard.
Bedard put together another quality start for the Astros, allowing three runs on six hits in his six innings of work. Most importantly, he had his team in position to win with the Astros leading 4-3 going into the seventh.
Harrell allowed a double to Clete Thomas to start the seventh before a sacrifice bunt, and then another double by Brian Dozier. Three batters into Harrell's outing and it was a tie game. Harrell executed the obvious move of walking Joe Mauer with first base open and one out.
But then Harrell unintentionally walked Justin Morneau to load the bases and Ryan Doumit followed with a RBI single to give the Twins a 5-4 lead. Harrell induced a pop out for the second out, and then got ahead of the next batter, Oswaldo Arcia, 0-2.
The Astros righty proceeded to throw four straight pitches in the dirt to walk Arcia, allowing a run to score to make it 6-4. Unfortunately, the Astros had used eight pitchers in Friday's 13-inning loss, so manager Bo Porter left Harrell out there despite the struggles. Naturally, Harrell retired the side in order in the eighth.
As for that bipolar Astros offense....
First three innings vs. Minnesota pitcher, Kyle Gibson: Nine hits, four runs, one home run, one walk and two strikeouts.
Last six innings vs. Minnesota pitchers, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins: one hit, zero runs, one walk and TEN strikeouts.
Jose Altuve (nice to have you back) drove in a run with a RBI ground-rule double in the first to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning with two outs and nobody on, the Astros finished the inning with: Brett Wallace solo home run (opposite field shot), Matt Dominguez double, Robbie Grossman RBI single (stay hot, kid), Brandon Barnes single, L.J. Hoes RBI single (second career RBI) and finally, a Jonathan Villar strikeout.
After that? Just a Jason Castro single and a Wallace walk.
The Astros welcome back Brad Peacock on Sunday as Houston tries to avoid the sweep. Peacock started the season roughly with Houston, but has went 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 13 starts with AAA Oklahoma City since.