A thriller in Minute Maid
There’s nothing like the excitement of overcoming an adverse outcome and winning a ballgame. The Astros have already experienced such a feeling twice, in consecutive contests. This time they scored five runs in the seventh inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-7, in a thrilling game full of intriguing elements: surprising starting pitching, followed by an erratic bullpen, wasted opportunities and an offensive onslaught.
Rookie Taylor Buchholz (see earlier post) handled himself solidly during six episodes, setting an example on pitching economy: He threw 85 pitches, 52 of them strikes. The problem was the same Fernando Nieve experienced yesterday afternoon: poor run support. The Astros had only scored two runs, one of them on a solo shot by Morgan Ensberg, and left 6 men on base during Buchholz’s appearance on the mound.
The two hits Buchholz conceded were home runs, one by Carlos Lee in the second, and another by Geoff Jenkins in the seventh; which sealed his fate in the end. Chad Qualls allowed 3 more runs in a poor relief exhibition, setting his ERA into an alarming 9.35, and leaving thoughts of a bullpen that has not risen to expectations.
Houston benefited from happy swings in that productive bottom of the 7th, that started with a Milwaukee lead, 6-3. But Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg drove in a run each, and Jason Lane capped the effort with a three-run homer, his third of the year, and the Astros finally turned the tables.
Brad Lidge got his fourth save this season, and kept Milwaukee from shredding to pieces the minimal deficit.
Taveras, Ensberg and Berkman are on fire these days: the Dominican center fielder has a 10-game hitting streak going; Ensberg has 3 games going yard, and Lance collects 18 RBI.
It was a thriller to the end, no doubt; yet this bullpen has not been what we had expected so far, and the young guns have provided above-average performances.