Never-say-die Astros do it again

Say what you will about the Astros, but their play during the month of August has been quite impressive. Credit goes to manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff for getting the most out of their players. Carlos Lee has raised his game to another level since Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman got traded, and young guys are stepping up. They’re hungry for jobs and ready to prove themselves.

Tuesday night’s 16-inning win over Phillies featured so many heroes it would be difficult to single them all out. The bullpen threw seven scoreless innings, with Fernando Abad and Jeff Fulchino throwing two innings each and Mark Melancon gutting his way through three innings on a night when overworked Brandon Lyon wasn’t available.

There was the hustle of Tommy Manzella, who made two terrific plays to rob Carlos Ruiz of hits in the ninth and 11th innings and then hustled down the line in the 16th to beat the throw at first and allow the Astros to push another run across the plate.

There was Chris Johnson banging out four hits in six at-bats, including the game-winner in the 16th, to raise his batting average to .340. There was catcher Jason Castro staying in the game in 13th after he was struck by a ball and dropped to the dirt. Not that Castro had much of a choice considering the Astros used all of their players.

In the last two weeks, the Astros have shown an uncanny ability to come back late in games, which is the kind of stuff young teams normally don’t do. It’s just enough to give you hope that Mill has this team heading in the right direction.

Here are some notes from Tuesday’s marathon game:

  • Game time was 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • The teams combined to use 43 players and throw 533 pitches
  • Bud Norris allowed one run in six innings and has a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts
  • It was the longest game for the Astros since a 16-inning loss in Atlanta on July 6, 2008. That game also featured a long rain delay
  • The Astros are 7-4 in extra innings
  • The Asros are 14-7 all-time at Citizens Bank Park, the best record by an opposing team
  • Wilton Lopez’s career-best scoreless streak ended at 20 innings when he allowed a homer to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning.
  • Tim Byrdak has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances under his belt and has posted a 0.93 ERA in his last 30 games.
  • Mark Melancon (three) and Fernando Abad (two) set career highs in innings pitched
  • The only players not on the disabled list who didn’t play for the Astros were starting pitchers Nelson Figueroa, J.A. Happ and Brett Myers and reliever Brandon Lyon, who has been used a bunch lately.

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