Let's start with the positives. This will be short and sweet, as there were just two tonight. First; Chris Carter continued to crush the ball, and stayed red hot. He went 3 for 4, with 2 more big flies, and 4 runs batted in. That was just about it for the offense; as Marc Krauss added a solo shot himself, and Jason Castro chipped in with 2 hits. Other than that, the rest of the lineup did just about nothing.
The second positive was another great start for Collin McHugh. I am really pushing for this kid, and am hoping for sustained success. He pitched another masterpiece, going 7 strong, only surrendering 5 hits and 1 run, along with 8 strikeouts. It is always nice to see more strikeouts than walks, and tonight's performance also lowered his ERA to an impressive 3.18. Although he was not rewarded with the W, I am pulling for him to finish the season strong.
Unfortunately for the Astros, the performances from Carter and McHugh were not enough. Baseball in unpredictable, and it is amazing to me that a game can go from coasting to a 5-1 victory to a 6-5 deficit within 7 batters. Josh Fields faced 4, and Tony Sipp faced 3, and the punches came quick. Both were ineffective, and a Ryan Howard grand slam later, the Astros were down, and down for good.
I don't want to belabor their rough outings, because in all, I think they have each been surprisingly good members of the bullpen. All this does for me is reinforce the idea that constructing an effective bullpen is challenging. Much more challenging than I thought. I do not think I have fully appreciated how difficult it is, and perhaps I have been spoiled by enjoying bullpens anchored by Billy Wagner, Octavio Dotel, and Brad Lidge - and times with all three at once! I appreciate that it is not an easy fix, but I am hoping another reliable reliever, or two, or five, emerge and finish the season strong.
Lastly, although I hate to lose, I will say that I was kind of happy for the Philly faithful. There was a bigger crowd there tonight then I would expect, and considering their very rough year(s), I was impressed with how many fans showed up and supported their home team. Even though they are in a tough season, and probably a tough transition for the next few years, they at least got to watch and enjoy a nice comeback win tonight. Maybe I can simply empathize with them more now than 10 years ago, but good baseball is just flat out exciting and fun to watch. Let's hope that Astros fans have the opportunity to enjoy good and exciting baseball again, sooner rather than later.