Not so much in the second, though. Neil Walker and Garrett Jones were aboard on ground singles with two down and no score. Then John Ely walked the next pair of guys and a JT double brought home two more runs. Sam Demel came on and got Clint Barmes to bounce to short; Tyler Greene threw the ball away and just like that, it was 5-0. But the Bucs were about to repay the favor.
Kyle McPherson must not have been paying attention. He got an out, then walked back-to-back guys. A soft roller turned into a force out, followed by a nubber that became a 30' single and brought home an Astro run. Another single loaded the bases, and Clint Hurdle called on another Kyle, this time Waldrop, to get the third out.
He got a flare to left that the wind batted around, and Barmes couldn't quite run it down. The ball glanced off his glove and brought all three runners around. In what's becoming commonplace in the early sledding, a big inning against the Bucs was set up by walks. It was, all in all, a strong outing by McPherson, except for those free passes.
Both sides went fairly quietly in the fourth, and added a point apiece in the fifth. Bryan Morris walked the first batter, then two outs later walked another. JD Martinez rolled one up the middle, and it was a tie game. Cutch untied it with a walk, a passed ball and two-out knock to left by Walker.
Justin Wilson tossed a calm sixth, and the Bucs padded the lead in their half. Jerry Sands singled, Tony Sanchez went the opposite way for a triple, and Josh Harrison lifted a sac fly to make it 8-5. The seventh went by without any noise, but the Astros tacked on a run against Brooks Brown in the eighth on a double by Jimmy Paredes. The Bucs loaded the bases after two were gone against Edgar Gonzalez, but Chase d'Arnaud looked at a third strike to snuff the threat. No diff; Brown 1-2-3'ed Houston in the ninth to finish the game.
The Bucs broke their six game losing streak. Geez, they'll miss these guys this year when they switch leagues.
- Clint Hurdle wants the players to vote on a "leadership group" that will meet with him a couple of times a month to keep communication open between the players and the coaches, per Michael Waterloo of The Pittsburgh Sporting News.
- The Opening Day matchup is set. Chicago named Jeff Samardzija as their guy, and he'll face off against AJ Burnett at PNC Park on April 1st.