Since I declared the Astros Dead Team Walking two days ago with a wink and a prayer, they’ve gone 2-0 (I know, two games–but they busted up a five game skid, and so two wins in a row feels like a pretty hefty winning streak) and gone back to the things they’ve done best in past: Excellent starting pitching (and pitching in general), acceptable hitting (comparatively, at least) and excellent defense.
Huge props go to Wandy Rodriguez, better known on this site as The Statistical Aberration, for rebounding from that abysmal previous start on short rest to pitch 7 innings of 5-hit shutout ball. Props and kudos and a tickertape parade to our latest member of The Kiddie Corps, Chris Sampson, who was initially called up from AAA Round Rock to replace a struggling Mike Gallo in the bullpen and was at least temporarily promoted to starter when Roy Oswalt was placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. In his first major league start (yesterday), he pitched 7 scoreless innings of 3-hit ball against the Cubs. It was a high pressure situation, with the Astros desperately needing another win, and he was given no margin for error as the standard anemic Astros offense managed only one run against Cubs’ rookie Sean Marshall.
Brad Ausmus was responsible for the Astros’ one and only run, going deep for the first time this season. As Amy (from the oft-mentioned superfantastic discussion board) put it: Someone owes him a steak dinner. And the bullpen is looking more and more like the pen of 2005, with Dan Wheeler throwing a scoreless eighth and Brad Lidge dispatching the Cubs’ 3-4-5 hitters with the ruthless efficiency of one who has something to prove.
Andy Pettitte goes tonight against the Braves’ John Thompson. Let’s hope Thomas’ magic eight ball is correct in its prediction that tonight is Andy’s night to get it turned around and give us a W.