Houston Astros newcomer L.J. Hoes was asked after Monday night’s 2-0 victory what impressed him most about his new club, and he pointed to the infectious energy that the young squad is currently thriving on.
Hoes came to the Astros from the Baltimore Orioles in the Bud Norris trade. After starting slowly in Baltimore, he has since shown himself to be an outfielder of great promise.
The shutout of the Boston Red Sox was just the Astros’ fourth of the season, and it came at a pivotal time. The Astros are fresh off a disappointing road trip and are beginning a seven-game home stand. Proving the influence of the multiple rookies is very important for manager Bo Porter at this point in the season.
Though 2013 is something of a lost cause, the final stretch is a perfect time to experiment with the lineup and throw some prospects into the mix to see if they have what it takes.
Brett Oberholtzer started for just the second time in his major league career, and he made a statement. Going seven scoreless innings and allowing just two hits, he is the first major league pitcher in over 20 years to begin his career with two starts that went at least seven innings while allowing zero runs.
Josh Fields sealed the Astros’ victory by striking out all three batters in the top of the ninth inning to complete the first save of his major league career. He rounded off what can only be described as a sublime pitching performance for Houston, a statement that has been made sparingly over the season.
Offensively, the Astros won the game by running the bases with intelligence and gusto. It was the first time since 2010 that the club has stolen six bases in a game, and rookie sensation Jonathan Villar stole three all on his own.
The exuberance of the young Astros players was on full procession at Minute Maid Park on Monday night. The zealous attitude of up-and-coming athletes who don’t worry about anything other than to go out and try hard on every single play is becoming the symbol of Astros baseball.
The elite Red Sox weren’t anticipating this kind of fight from a team who sits at the bottom of the AL, but unsullied passion for the game doesn’t care what jersey you wear.