April 10, 2012 by danolaurel
It was looking all too familiar when the game started. Astros fans are expecting the worse, but quietly hopeful. The starting pitcher, J.A.Happ (LHP) had a remarkably tough time in 2011 and didn’t quite make a highlight reel in spring training this year, so most of us were looking forward to seeing the same ‘ol performance from Happ and it started just as expected.
The Astros gave up three runs early in the game to the visiting Atlanta Braves and most of us were familiar to this kind of performance. We were used to seeing Happ struggle on the mound to spot his locations. We’d become familiar with hits off the bat from Happ pitches, as he wiped sweat from his brow. We were used to seeing the visiting column fill up with runs when J.A.Happ was pitching.
Then second baseman Dan Uggla came to the plate with a man on first base and nobody out. Uggla had just come off of a spectacular second-half finish on 2011 and we all expected Happ to give up another run, but then something happened. Uggla struck out after a runner moved up to second base. He was caught looking by a pitch from Happ. Wait a minute…Next to the plate was Freddie Freeman who ended up grounding out… then Matt Diaz who popped out to right-fielder Brain Bogusevic. The bleeding had stopped, but the Astros were still down three runs.
The momentum was about to shift in our favor. The fans were beginning to sense something was about to happen. The team was just above .500 for the first time since the summer of 2009 and we were done being the “Lastros”. We took the first series of the season from the Colorado Rockies and slowly the wheels of the bandwagon were beginning to start rolling.
Houston was down to their last out when things started to work in the home teams’ favor. Center-fielder Jordan Schafer was able to get walked, then Jose Altuve barely hit a ball to third base which allowed Schafer to get to third on a misplay by Atlanta and Travis Buck hit a shot to left-field bring the two on base home. You didn’t see that kind of aggressive baserunning last season and that was one of the biggest complaints for Dave Clark, third base coach. We all felt he held up too many runners at third when they probably could have scored, but this season the mentality might be, “Just send them, why not?” That is really fine with us.
First baseman, Carlos Lee, hit a ball up the middle to send Buck home for Lee’s fourth RBI of the season tying the game.
The offense is there. We all knew it was, but something was going on the heads of the players last year. It may have been all of the trade rumors, starting off sluggish never helps and it all escalated the whole year, but this year feels different. Houston was able to put up eight runs in this game and has already showed more offense than the first month of last year.
Continue to ROOT ROOT ROOT for the Astros!