June 5, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace (29) hits a RBI double against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. The Astros defeated the Cardinals 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
If the Astros have anything to feel good about after being outscored 23-5 in two games, it's Brett Wallace on Wednesday.
Same old thing this week with the Astros. They played a hard-fought series, and their opponent (this time the Brewers) beat them up. Getting beat up is the story of the last couple of years for the Stros, so that's not really too hard to take at the moment.
I can't be the only numb Astros fan around here. Being numb, however, doesn't mean I'm not still thinking. And right now I'm thinking Brett Wallace could hit in the middle of the Stros' lineup when they make the jump to the AL West next season.
Competing in that league, in that division is going to be tough for this franchise no matter how good Wallace is, but the 25-year-old lefty appears to be coming into his own, albeit he's only had 48 big league at-bats with Houston this season. What I'm paying attention to is the four home runs in those at-bats, compared to the five he hit in 336 at-bats last season.
If Wallace is making that kind of stride and using his minor league assignment to really polish his approach at the plate, then what do we have here exactly? Is he the next cornerstone player before these prospects start showing up, or is he another Hunter Pence trade down the road?
Either way, he's refreshing.
Wallace was only 1-for-8 and struck out four times going into the final game of the Brewers series on Wednesday, when he hit a pair of home runs in his three-hit day. But those two blasts were Houston's only highlights and that's mainly because we haven't seen much of what Wallace brought to the order: power.
In the midst of wrapping up a three-game sweep, we saw power in the Astros' batting lineup. That's pretty cool.
As for the rest of the series:
The Brewers watched their bullpen preserve the shakiest of victories on Monday, the same day they fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles. That wasn't the most interesting story of the game, so much as J.D. Martinez being called out at first base in the top of the ninth inning with the Stros threatening to tie the game.
Martinez appeared safe, but that was a call that could've gone either way. Don't think the umpires don't feel like they've already put in a fine day's work with two outs in the ninth, either.
That happened, though. And the Astros barely lost the only game in this series they had a chance of winning.
Tuesday's game was the continuation of Dallas Keuchel's struggles. Keuchel gave up seven runs on seven hits in his four innings against the Brewers. He walked six while striking out just one. Keuchel isn't known for strikeouts, but he's starting to become known for giving up more and more runs.
In his first three starts for the Astros while filling in for Bud Norris, Keuchel gave up just one earned run in each game. There was his impressive complete game against the Indians on June 23 that looked promising. Since being called back up following the flurry of Houston trades, Keuchel hasn't been convincing.
His ERA has ballooned to 5.74 as the rookie has given up at least five runs in his last three outings while going four innings or less in two of them.
Jordan Lyles obviously had a rough go on Wednesday. He surrendered nine runs (seven earned) over five innings, so that one was over rather quickly. The Stros also committed four errors in 3 2/3 innings, which didn't help anyone but the Brewers in their pursuit of a sweep.
Houston has dropped 28 of its last 31 games and given up four runs or more in the last four games. If the Stros give up that many runs against the Braves on Friday, it will tie the franchise record set in 1996.
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