Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Dugout Digest – the Astros are blasting off

The Houston Astros aren’t a good baseball team. They have the third-worst record in baseball this year, and the second-worst run differential. But this month, and especially over the last week, something seems to be changing. Houston is 13-13 in May, a solid step forward for a team that was so terrible to start the year. Their run differential is up to +14, spurred by a 118 run output that has been bested by just three AL teams in May. They’ve won five in a row, splitting a series in Seattle and sweeping the Royals in Kansas City. Who knows – by the end of the year, maybe the Astros will graduate to “promising” as opposed to “disappointing”.

Game of the Night: Phillies 6, Rockies 3. The rose is falling off the Rockies’ bloom – they’re just 2-4 on this road trip, and have lost consecutive series to both the Braves and Phillies. They had a chance to take the series from the Phillies on Wednesday night after D.J. LeMahieu hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to push Colorado to a 3-2 lead. But in the bottom of the ninth, things fell apart in epic fashion. LaTroy Hawkins started the inning, and got Cesar Hernandez to fly out. Tony Gwynn Jr. reached on an error by Josh Rutledge, and Ben Revere singled to move the tying run into scoring position. After Jimmy Rollins lined out, Boone Logan replaced Hawkins on the hill to try to get Chase Utley out to end the game. It didn’t happen, as Utley dropped a single into right field to score Gwynn and tie the game. Ryan Howard then stepped up, and smashed a walk off, three-run homer against the left-handed Logan to hand the Rockies a stunning defeat.

Pitching Lines of the Night: This was another one of those “nights of great pitching”, so my apologies to those that will be left off this list. Anibal Sanchez earned a hard luck no decision in Detroit’s 3-1, walk off loss to the Athletics, as he allowed one run on three hits in 8 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out nine. The beneficiary of that win was Scott Kazmir, who gave up one run on six hits in a complete game, walking none and punching out nine. Felix Hernandez helped the Mariners beat the Angels 3-1, allowing one run on four hits in 8 2/3 innings, walking a pair and striking out nine. Bartolo Colon pitched the Mets to a 5-0 win over the Pirates, allowing five hits over 7 1/3 shutout innings, walking one and punching out nine. Hector Noesi had a great start for the White Sox in their 3-2 victory over Cleveland, giving up one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out five without a walk.

Hitting Lines of the Night: In Houston’s 9-3 win over Kansas City, Chris Carter went 2/4 with a pair of homers, a walk, and four RBI. The Diamondbacks blistered the Padres 12-6, thanks in large part to Paul Goldschmidt going 3/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, and three RBI. A.J. Pollock helped out his teammate by going 3/4 with two doubles, three runs, and two RBI. Nelson Cruz stayed scorching for the Orioles in their 8-3 loss to the Brewers, going 2/3 with a walk and a pair of solo homers. In the win for Milwaukee, Khris Davis went 2/3 with a homer, two runs, three RBI, and a walk. Nate McLouth had a whale of a night in Washington’s 8-5, ten inning loss to Miami, going 4/4 with a double, a walk, two RBI, and a stolen base. The aforementioned Ryan Howard went 2/4 with that walk off homer, four RBI, and a walk.

Other Games: The Giants shut out the Cubs 5-0 behind the arm of Tim Lincecum. The Blue Jays won again, beating the Rays 3-2 thanks to a blown sac bunt in the ninth. The Rangers shut out the Twins 1-0. The Red Sox shut out the Braves 4-0. The Yankees topped the Cardinals 7-4. The Reds beat the Dodgers 3-2.

Today’s Games: Only two day games today, which is ludicrous on a Thursday. Rick Porcello and Jesse Chavez will duel in Oakland. Zack Wheeler starts for the Mets against the Phillies. Mike Minor starts for the Braves at Fenway. James Shields and R.A. Dickey will battle in Toronto. Ryan Vogelsong and Jaime Garcia will square off in St. Louis. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the Orioles in Houston. Gerrit Cole and Dan Haren face off in Los Angeles.

National TV: Rangers-Twins (1 PM, MLB Network), Braves-Red Sox (7 PM, MLB Network), Mets-Phillies (7 PM, MLB Network)

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.