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Monday, January 26, 2015

Astros Sweep Dodgers in Battle of Top NL West Squads

In the first firefight between the two teams expected to battle for the NL West crown, the Astros overpower the Dodgers in a four game sweep. Houston pitching was lights out, as the Dodgers only managed four runs total in the four games. The strikeouts also were abundant on the Houston side, especially from J.R. Richard and new Astro Nolan Ryan.

Game One: Houston 1, LA 0
W: Richard (1-0)
L: Hooton (0-1)
S: Sambito (1)

Houston ace J.R. Richard was unhittable, racking up 12 Ks and only two walks in 8.1 innings of shutout ball.  What a pitcher (and with a tragic story to come that would douse that talent). The Dodgers Burt Hooten was almost as good in seven innings of one run ball. The only run of the game would come in the third, as Dodgers great Steve Garvey muffed a bunt attempt by Richard for an error, opening the door for a two out single from Cesar Cedeno for the Ribbie.

Game Two: Houston 11, LA 1
W: J. Niekro (1-0)
L: Sutcliffe (0-1)

The Astros slapped around Rick Sutcliffe, as the youngster gave up six runs in the first three innings. Enos Cabell was three for four with four RBIs and a triple, and Jose Cruz had three singles and three RBIs for good measure. Joe Niekro had his knuckle curve working, giving up hardly anything in seven innings of work.

Game Three: Houston 4, LA 2
W: Ryan (1-0)
L: Sutton (0-1)
S: Smith (1)

The Ryan Express comes to Houston and is a welcome sight in the Astrodome. Ryan strikes out nine (with one walk) and only gives up a single run in seven innings in his Astros debut. Houstron strikes for three off Don Sutton in the bottom of the fourth, two runs coming on Art Howe's double off the right field wall, as Sutton was knocked around a bit. Houston added an insurance run in the fifth on a Cedeno triple. The Dodgers attempted a late comeback but new Houston reliever Dave Smith got off of a few jams for the save in his two innings of work.

Game Four: Houston 6, LA 1
W: Forsch (1-0)
L: Goltz (0-1)

A fairly easy win to close out the Houston sweep, as Houston scores six runs off Dave Goltz and Bobby Castillo without an extra base hit in the bunch (typical for this squad of singles hitters). Denny Walling gets a rare start and plates two with an RBI single but clutch singles abound. Meanwhile, Houston vet Ken Forsch is great, going nine and only giving up four measly hits.

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