Astros doing it all right on winning streak

This is probably the best stretch of baseball the Astros have played since the 2008 season. They never won more than four games in a row last year, and they have a chance to win No. 5 in a row Thursday when they face the Marlins in the final game of the series.

What’s the key? Starting pitching? Relief pitching? Clutch hitting? Check, check and check.

Astros starters have posted a 3.07 ERA with 35 strikeouts in the last seven games, a span in which the club is 5-2. The bullpen has been tremendous, with Brandon Lyon ironing things out and Matt Lindstrom getting saves in four consecutive games. And you can’t say enough about Wilton Lopez, who threw two scoreless innings Wednesday.

The return of Lance Berkman, who has three RBI groundouts in two games, has been key in many ways. It allows Geoff Blum to be a factor off the bench, and Blum did just that in the seventh inning Wednesday by hitting his first career pinch-hit triple to win the game. Jason Michaels came up big off the bench with a sac fly in the 10th Sunday in Chicago and hit a pinch-hit homer Tuesday.

“We’re awesome,” Blum said of the bench brigade.

And center-fielder Michael Bourn ran down nearly everything hit his way in center field Wednesday and is starting to become a big factor on the bases with three stolen bases in two games. He also managed to avoid a tag in a rundown and wound up on third and eventually scoring. That was a huge play.

OK, so not everything was so great Wednesday. Berkman was thrown out by a mile trying to steal third base with the Astros trailing 4-3 in the sixth inning.

“His name is Puma and I don’t think he demonstrated any cat-like actions right there,” manager Brad Mills said.

So, Lance, what did happen?

“I was thinking nobody in the stadium expects me to try to steal third right here,” he said. “It was the sixth inning, and I thought the worst-case scenario would be that we would end up with Carlos [Lee] on second base and two outs in the sixth against a tough pitcher where a hit still ties the game.

“If I made it then we had a chance to score an easy run off a guy that was giving us some fits. The thinking was sound, the mind was willing but the body was weak. If I had to do it all over again clearly I would not have attempted it. Clearly I did not notice my leg was as weak as it is. I’m glad we won the game because you guys would have made a bigger deal out of it.”

If the Astros think it’s great having Berkman back to the lineup, the media surely missed his post-game comments, too.


I thought that Berkman’s risk right there was a good play. Even though he was out by a mile, if he made it to 3rd, that would’ve been one of the greater plays of the game. No one expected him to try to steal 3rd and that caught everyone by surprise. The catcher just reacted like all catchers should. Great play in my book.

To me, no one expected him to because it was crazy to try it. Wow. Did he forget how important he was to this lineup?
Carlos’ steal attempt, on the other hand, was comical.

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