The weekend ended on a good note for the Astros, who had extended their losing streak to 12 games before defeating the Pirates 9-5 on Sunday. Before that, it was more of the same for Houston, but the first three games were actually close against Pittsburgh.
It's like the Stros were knocking on the door of a victory and couldn't get in. They were playing the Pirates, an organization the Astros wouldn't mind resembling in a couple of years in going from horrible to really good. That will take a while, but just before the series against the Bucs, Houston continued toward building that foundation toward the future.
Wandy Rodriguez was traded to the Pirates for prospects, and Chris Johnson was sent to the Diamondbacks over the weekend. That may not even be the final move made before Tuesday and for what it's worth, Johnson's bat will be missed for the rest of the season. Along with Jose Altuve, Johnson was the surest thing at the plate for this team.
But it's important to pay attention to how well the Stros played in this four-game series, despite the distractions and the team getting even worse in its current state.
The series began with rookie Starling Marte hitting a leadoff home run against fellow rookie Dallas Keuchel in the first pitch offered to him in his major league career. That was a big moment for Marte obviously, but the fact that it came against Keuchel and the Stros is hardly a coincidence. Major league hitters fantasize about hitting in Minute Maid Park and if they get to face a novice like Keuchel, that dream is ... A good one. Houston lost 5-3.
Then Friday came and it looked like the Astros finally had one. But you remember that Astros bullpen, right? Yeah, I wish I didn't either. Marte's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning tied the game, before a wild pitch by Xavier Cedeno scored what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Armando Galarraga wasn't bad for the Astros on Saturday, but the team was unlucky once again. That was the game Houston produced six hits and three runs in six inning against Wandy.
Sunday's finale was rewarding for this Astros team that can only be focused on doing the best they can with what they have for the duration of this season.
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