Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/10/12
HOUSTON Sometimes there is accomplishment even in defeat, something the Astros made clear as they concluded their nine-game home stand with an extra-inning loss to the Marlins Wednesday night. On Tuesday night they rallied against long odds and Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, then nearly did so again in the series finale before falling 5-3 in 12 innings. Over the final four games of their home stand their offense deserted them, yet the Astros didn't relent. While the Astros had already revealed stubborn persistence as a team-wide characteristic, their insistence to reinforce that aspect of their personality certainly left an impression. "We're definitely battling out there," Astros closer Brett Myers said. "In the past couple of years it's kind of been where we just kind of give up. I think these young guys are doing a great job of grinding out at-bats, the bullpen is doing a heck of a job keeping us in ballgames, and that's really the key to winning baseball games. "When we go out there and we're battling each time, it gives us confidence that we can play with any team. The way we've been playing baseball and the way we've been going out there fighting and grinding out at-bats, these guys are starting to believe in themselves and definitely everybody else around here believes in them. They do understand that we do believe in them and they need to keep grinding." If the Astros (14-17) fashioned a mantra to represent the close of a home stand that included three losses over four games, is was rooted in the concept of unyielding. They batted just .198 over those four games, scoring seven total runs after posting eight last Saturday against the Cardinals in a victory that extended their winning streak to five games. Right-handers Adam Wainwright and Josh Johnson righted their wayward ships against the suddenly prone Astros lineup. Carlos Zambrano burnished his claim as a part-time owner of the franchise. Sanchez was equally dominant, undone only by the shoddy glove work of second baseman Omar Infante. Despite these outings, the Astros erased the imprints Sanchez and Johnson left on their respective starts by pushing through the latter innings with an impressive resilience. These traits were nothing new, yet were lost in the stream of one-run road losses preceding the Astros' return home. The Astros didn't prove anything to themselves, but perhaps they reached a skeptical fan base convinced that this season was lost even before it began. They played to a half-empty house throughout the home stand, averaging 19,495 spectators over nine games. Their vigor earned respect if not attendees. "I don't think we discovered anything new about ourselves that we didn't already think," said Astros right fielder Brian Bogusevic, who delivered the game-winning hit on Tuesday night and the game-tying hit in the ninth inning on Wednesday night. "Maybe we showed that we're never out of it. We play hard and we don't give up on anything. I think we knew that about ourselves before these nine games." Now everyone else knows. Fans were left abuzz over the Astros' grit, and national media have taken notice that these Astros aren't hapless. There are concerns to be sure, from a shallow rotation to an offense that lacks punch. These issues can be masked with desire and determination. Astros manager Brad Mills balked at the suggestion that his lineup could face additional overhauling given the recent struggles of young outfielders J.D. Martinez, who is mired in an 0-for-21 slump, and Jordan Schafer, who was 2-for-19 on the home stand before his four-hit night in the finale. These technicalities will continue to be addressed on the road in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where the Astros will need a fifth starter against the Phillies and their offense to return to pre-Wainwright form. What Mills doesn't want to adjust is the passion his team has displayed. The 6-3 home stand confirmed that the Astros are doing one thing right. "If the game is close at all we're going to be in it, and you can't count us out," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "We've shown that, and we've shown that we can play with anybody. "We have that never-say-die attitude, and that's part of what makes us dangerous." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
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