Apart from the Cardinals, there are plenty of teams to beat up in the Astros division if you play them at the right time. The Pirates franchise continues to resemble a car wreck, the Reds rotation is struggling horribly, as is the Brewers'. The Cubs bullpen is so troubled behind Carlos Marmol, that Carlos Zambrano is now acting as their setup man (the most expensive ever at a cool $18m a year).
Coming into the Pirates series a lot of the Astros bats still looked dormant, Carlos Lee had an absolutely terrible line of .136/.164/.153, and a dire .316 OPS over his first fifteen games.one extra base hit, one RBI, two walks and four runs scored. In the two games he played against Pittsburgh he was 4-9 with 4 RBIs and 3 runs.
Michael Bourn continued to stoke the Astros offence from the top of the lineup card, reaching base four times in five plate appearances, swiping three bases. Overall the Astros stole six bases on the day, doubling their tally of six coming into the game. The all-important stat for a leadoff man, OBP stands at .435.
Collectively the Astros had scored 41 runs in 15 games before the series at an average of 2.4. In three games with the Pirates they scored 19, an average of 6.3. Bar Keppinger it was the second straight night the entire lineup had contributed one hit. One the face of it Charlie Morton, the Pirates starting pitcher was an easy assignment. Considering he brought a 16.55 ERA into the game it is no surprise that the Astros jumped on him the way they did.
The Pirates will feel somewhat aggrieved that they actually outhit the Astros 14-10, but 13 of those were singles, and it was not until a Clement double in the eighth off Byrdak that they got an extra base hit. Brett Myers allowed 11 singles in his six innings of work, but limited the damage to two runs, picking up his first win in an Astro uniform.
The comfort of the win also gave Brad Mills the chance to spare his two most precious arms in the bullpen with Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom getting the afternoon off.
The Astros welcome Cincinnati to Houston (after an offday Monday), and first up is Aaron Harang, who owns a pretty dismal 8.31 ERA, with three losses to his name already. Bud Norris will face him, before Felipe Paulino takes on rookie Mike Leake. Reds killer Roy Oswalt, the proud owner of a 23-1 record against the Reds will face Bronson Arroyo in the finale. Oswalt had a 3.38 ERA in his starts against the Reds last year, but picked up no-decisions in all of the contests. After being bested by Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay in his opening two starts, Oswalt picked up back-to-back wins for the first time since September 2008. Just illustrates how bad we were in 2009.