The Astros have played extremely well in the 6 game home stand to date. First a sweep of the Mets quickly followed by a 2-1 series win over the defending World Series Champion Cardinals. Not too shabby for a team that no one has paid much attention to this season.
With another three games remaining in this 3 series, 9 game home stand, what can fans expect?
The Miami Marlins (14-14) and their very colorful new uniforms come to Houston (13-15) starting tonight. First up? Former Cub, Carlos Zambrano (0-2, 2.53 ERA) will pitch opposite of Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 1.64). Wandy's pitching so far this season has been stellar. I'd argue he's the best we've seen of him thus far in his career.
But the Marlins are on a bit of streak. Coming into Houston, they've won their last seven games, all on the road, and will be eager to continue to prove they're not a disappointment. But Wandy's not going to make it easy. In five starts against the Marlins at Minute Maid Park, he's 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
Tuesday on the mound is Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 2.42 ERA) versus the recently called up Aneury Rodriguez who will be making his first major league start of the season. At AAA OKC, Aneury was 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA. He's been brought up to replace Kyle Weiland who is out on the disable list dealing with what looks to be an infection in his shoulder. This will be the most volatile night of the 3 games for the Astros as we wait with bated breath to see how Aneury performs at this level this time around.
Wednesday bring John Johnson (0-3, 6.61 ERA) of the Marlins squaring off against Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.76 ERA). Harrell put in a nice showing last Friday against the Cardinals holding them to 3 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He's still chasing that excellent outing that started his season Opening Weekend where he went seven innings of shutout baseball. If Harrell is hot, this game should clinch a series win for the Astros.
Ptiching will be a big factor but again, for this Astros club, run production is key. Even after the loss against the Cardinals on Sunday, they have the 3rd best run differential in the National League (+14). If the Astros can keep hitting, they can keep winning and with the likes of Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie not only hitting well, but defensively creating a screen at middle infield, this Astros club is getting tougher day by day.
Put the decent starting pitching with a bullpen that's been outstanding and now calls themselves the Regulators together with a team that is swinging the bat well and you've got a combination that can win ball games.
If you thought the Cardinals games were close and nerve wracking, brace yourselves, because this series could take us on a wild ride. Even still I predict a series win 2-1 for the Astros.
Monday, 5/7/12 - 7:05pm start - probably pitchers: Carlos Zambrano (0-2, 2.53 ERA) v. Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 1.64 ERA)
Tuesday, 5/8/12 - 7:05pm - probably pitchers: Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 2.43 ERA) v. Aneury Rodriguez (debut for the season)
Wednesday, 5/7/12 - 7:05pm start - probable pitchers: Josh Johnson (0-3, 6.61 ERA) v. Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.76 ERA)