More than a month into the season, the Houston Astros finally put each member of their projected opening-day lineup on the field at the same time. Manager Cecil Cooper had to be pleased with the results.
After totaling their most home runs in a single game in more than a year, the Astros continue their three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
Houston third baseman Ty Wigginton returned from a 22-game absence on Friday to complete the Astros’ projected starting lineup for the first time since the team underwent a significant overhaul over the winter. The top three hitters in the lineup Friday - Michael Bourn, Kazuo Matsui and Miguel Tejada - were all offseason acquisitions.
“It’s a good feeling that I’ve got them all, got them all healthy,” Cooper told the team’s official Web site before the game. “Now we’ve just got to start clicking.”
That didn’t take long as Houston delivered one of its most complete offensive games of the season. Eight starters had at least one hit as the Astros (14-16) totaled 12 hits with five homers in their 7-4 victory in the series opener. It was their highest home run total in a game since they had six in a 14-1 rout of Pittsburgh on Aug. 9, 2006.
Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee all homered consecutively in the sixth inning, marking the first time the Astros got home runs from three consecutive batters since Berkman teamed with Carlos Beltran and Jeff Bagwell to accomplish the feat on Aug. 31, 2004.
Hunter Pence hit Houston’s other two homers.
“We’re definitely starting to see the capabilities of this offense,” Pence said. “You can talk about it all day long, but you’ve got to go out and do it, (and) if we can keep this going, we’ve got a chance.”
The Astros have averaged 6.7 runs while winning two of their last three games after averaging 2.3 runs and batting .151 during a three-game skid.
The Brewers (16-13), meanwhile, haven’t been able to establish any kind of consistency. They’ve alternated wins and losses in their last seven games, and managed only seven hits in Friday’s defeat.
While the team struggled as a whole, outfielder Ryan Braun continued his success against Houston with a two-run home run in the first inning - his second homer in his last two games. Braun, last season’s NL Rookie of the Year ahead of third-place finisher Pence, is batting .340 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 13 career games against the Astros.
Braun has one homer in three at-bats against Houston starter Brandon Backe (1-3, 4.65 ERA). The right-hander gave up four runs over five innings in his last start - a 5-1 loss to St. Louis on Sunday. He’s 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six career games - three starts - against Milwaukee.
The Brewers will start Manny Parra (1-1, 4.94), who’s making his first career appearance against Houston. The left-hander held Florida to two runs in 5 1-3 innings on Sunday, when Milwaukee fell 3-2 in 10 innings.