Quantcast 2009 Houston Astros: Houston Astros vs. Washington Nationals Series recap
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When The Astros headed into Washington to face the Nationals, there should have been only one thing on the team’s mind: a series sweep. It should have happened, but it didn’t. The Astros bullpen continues to fail them in a dramatic way that is somewhat reminiscent of the Hindenburg tragedy. In the first game of the two game series the Astros had a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. What occurred over the span of that one half-inning was almost spectacularly tragic. Wesley Wright, who came on in relief of starter Brian Moehler, proceeded to give up a hit and walked two in his 1/3 of an inning and handed the ball over to Felipe Paulino, who had made the move to the bullpen to accommodate Brian Moehler’s return to the rotation. Paulino yielded two hits and two walks while retiring only one before Jeff Fulchino, who came on in relief of Paulino, retired Ronnie Belliard to ground out and end the inning. What started out as a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning ended up a 4-7 deficit entering the seventh frame. The Nationals scored two more in the bottom of the seventh off of Fulchino, and that would be more than enough as the Astros fell 9-4. In the sixth and seventh innings, the Astros bullpen gave up 7 runs on 7 hits and 6 walks. That stat line is almost surreal. It was something you would expect from Ricky ”Wild Thing” Vaughn from Major League or from Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham. The only thing that the Astros didn’t do was hit the Nationals’ mascot with a wild pitch.

Houston Astros hats & merchandise The second game of the two-game series was nearly identical from the first up to the sixth inning. With Chris Sampson on in relief of Roy Oswalt, Sampson surrendered 4 runs on 1 hit and 4 walks. Sampson, who has been the most consistent and effective reliever for the Astros this season, continued down the same path that last night’s Astros relievers had blazed for him. Tim Byrdak, who relieved Sampson after 2/3 of an inning’s work, yielded an unearned run on Miguel Tejada’s bases-loaded miscue, then proceeded to hit Nick Johnson with a pitch, plating yet another run. In all, Oswalt, Sampson and Byrdak got hooked for 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and what started as a 5-2 lead for the Astros became a 5-8 deficit when all was said and done. The Astros hitters, apparently not wanting any of the blame, went to work in the seventh, scoring 3 in the top of the seventh and 1 in the top of the eighth, giving the Astros a 9-8 advantage. The Nationals would strike again in the bottom of the eighth, tagging reliever Geoff Geary for 2 more runs to take a 10-9 lead into the ninth. The Astros hitters failed to yield to the Nationals, and Hunter Pence led off the ninth inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout from Ivan Rodriguez. Pence would score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Geoff Blum to knot the game at 10 apiece. The Nationals would threaten after a leadoff walk to Josh Willingham, but Geary would buckle down, retiring the next three batters and forcing the game into extra innings. The game would eventually stall in the 11 TH during an extended rain delay. In July, the two teams will pick up again where they left off.

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  1. Roy Oswalt left the game in the sixth due to a bruised right index finger when he got a stinger while batting. Oswalt later admitted that it felt fine while he was pitching and said he did not expect to miss any extended period of time.
  2. Lance Berkman looks as though he is coming out of his funk. In April he batted a paltry .168, but in May he is hitting .294.
  3. Michael Bourn has solidified as an excellent #2 hitter in the lineup. When batting second in the order, he hits .368.
  4. So far in the series, the Astros bullpen has surrendered 15 runs in only 10 innings for a 13.50 ERA. This is completely unacceptable. The Astros need to take a serious look at who has been effective and who has not been effective, and fix this problem immediately.
  5. Brian Moehler looked good through five innings of work, in his first start since coming off the disabled list.


By: Jordan Fleck
MLBcenter.com Houston Astros correspondent

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