22.1 Consecutive Scoreless by Eric Seidman April 20, 2009 The outlook is bleak for the Houston Astros this season, but as with any potential non-contender in any given season, it is safe to expect some extremely impressive spurts of performance from both position players and pitchers. Cecil Cooper’s gang currently sits at 4-8, but entering Monday’s action their starting pitchers had thrown 21.2 straight scoreless innings. While this feat does not necessarily battle the dominance on display thus far from Zack Greinke, how can we not be impressed that a foursome consisting of Russ Ortiz, Felipe Paulino and Wandy Rodriguez have pieced together a streak like this? It all started last Thursday, when Ortiz toed the rubber against Jeff Karstens and the Pirates. Ortiz surrendered three earned runs in the first two innings and left after just 4.2 frames due to throwing 99 pitches. He settled down a bit after the second inning and held the Pirates scoreless in the third and fourth as well as his action in the fifth. After clocking out of work, Ortiz had the rather pedestrian line of 4.2 IP-5 H-3 ER-2 BB-2 K and had accrued a WPA of just -0.062. The Astros went onto win, however, and the streak for the starting rotation began. On Friday, ace Roy Oswalt got the call and delivered a solid performance, holding the Reds scoreless over six innings of work. He did issue three free passes in his outing, uncharacteristic of Oswalt, and the relief corps failed the stalwart righty as the Reds won 2-1. Despite the loss the scoreless innings streak for their starters had increased to 8.2 innings. The very next day, Wandy Rodriguez bested Oswalt with a very dominant performance. Rodriguez scattered two hits and two walks over seven scoreless innings, fanning 10 batters in the process. His 0.369 WPA helped the Astros beat Aaron Harang and the Reds 7-0, increasing the streak to 15.2 scoreless innings. When rookie Felipe Paulino extended the streak on Sunday, the Astros lost once again, which speaks volumes for something, be it the early effectiveness of the rotation or early ineffectiveness of the relievers. Paulino was opposed by Edinson Volquez, and added six scoreless frames to the streak, striking out six batters and walking two. Unfortunately, the Astros hitters could not capitalize on the wildness of Volquez and the triumvirate of Tim Byrdak, Chris Sampson, and Geoff Geary allowed four runs after Paulino’s departure. Mike Hampton started tonight, and after retiring two batters to increase the streak to 22.1 scoreless innings, he surrendered a two-run single to Edwin Encarnacion in the top of the first inning. The streak is now over but their rotation sure stringed together some impressive performances over the last few days.