First plate appearance eventful for Melancon
Astros pitcher Mark Melancon made his first career plate appearance in the seventh inning Thursday night, and it was one to remember. Melancon scrambled for a batting helmet and bat and wound up drawing a walk in an eight-pitch at-bat against Padres starter Dustin Moseley, even though he thought he had struck out looking earlier in the at-bat and began heading to the dugout.
“I have to give so much respect to Dustin Moseley because I played with him last year and he’s one of the classiest guys I’ve ever played with,” Melancon said. “To be able to have my first at-bat against him, I’m pretty thankful for that. It’s pretty neat to face a guy that you have so much respect for. He pitched a heck of a game. He was average eight or nine pitches an inning. It was pretty neat to face him and then Nick Hundley was my catcher in college, so it was a pretty cool at-bat for me.”
Melancon borrowed a helmet from Jason Bourgeois and a bat from Brett Wallace.
“Wallace gave me his bat and said, ‘That’s the lightest one I’ve got,’” Melancon said. “I looked at him and said,’ I can use a heavy one.’”
When asked about the pitch he thought was a strike, Melancon had some fun.
“It was a close pitch,” he said. “I just assumed the umpire was going to ring me up because I’m a pitcher and never had an at-bat before, and I figured he was ringing me up and I was kind of alright with that, I guess. I think Hundley was assuming the same thing and I know he was wanting the same thing. When he called ball I was pretty excited to be back in the box, for sure.”
When the inning was over, Melancon had to focus on the job he gets paid to do and wound up pitching out of a mess in the eighth.
“I threw eight warm-up pitches and every one of my warm-up pitches I had no idea where the ball was going, and about the third one I said ‘OK, I understand I just had my at-bat, but this is a big part of the game and I have to bear down and focus on pitching, because that’s what I’m here to do,’” he said. “It took me five more pitches to do that, and fortunately when the guy got back in the box I was ready to go and calmed down from the AB and being on base, which was like being on Mars for me.”
Here are postgame notes:
- Thursday marked the Astros first shutout of the season and first since blanking the Cubs 4-0 on the last game of the season last year. It also marked the club’s first 1-0 shutout since beating the D-Backs by that count on Aug. 21, 2009. The team’s previous 1-0 shutout,in which itallowed three hits or less came on June 7, 2006, vs. Chicago.
- The last time the Astros shutout the Padres was on May 8, 2009, and the last time they did so while allowing three hits or less, was on Sept. 17, 1993. The last time the Astros beat the Padres by a count of 1-0, while allowing three hits or less, was on May 24, 1991.
- CF Michael Bourn’s stolen base in the sixth inning marked the Astros 500th stolen base at Minute Maid Park. Bourn now has 81 career stolen bases at Minute Maid Park, all coming as an Astro, and is the all-time leader in that category at MMP. Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman are tied for second on that list with 39 apiece.
- RHP Bud Norris tossed six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks, while fanning seven. He has now tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings againt the Padres, dating back to his seven-inning performance on July 3, 2010 at San Diego.
- RHP Mark Melancon tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings tonight and has not been scored upon in 7 2/3 innings of relief this season. That marks the club’s longest scoreless innings streak in 2011. He leads all Astros relievers in games and innings pitched.
- 1B Brett Wallace extended his career-long hitting streak to seven games by doubling in the second inning Thursday. During the run, Wallace is hitting .375 with two doubles, one home run and 4 RBIs.
- 3B Matt Downs has run his career-long hitting streak to five games, hitting at .538 (7-for-13) in that span. His previous long streak was three games, most recently accomplished from June 13-Sept 7, 2010.
- C Humberto Quintero went 2-for-3 Thursday and has now gone 5-for-6 with a walk in his last seven plate appearances. Along with catcher J.R. Towles, Astros catchers have combined to hit .348 (16-for-46) with three doubles, one home run and three RBIs.