Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G108: Astros v. Athletics

Jason Hammel (0-3, 7.11) vs Dallas Keuchel (9-7, 3.11)


Glass half empty: The Astros were one out away from sweeping the top team in MLB. Glass half full: The Astros were one out away from sweeping the top team in MLB. Either way you cut it, Houston beat Oakland for 26.2 innings this week, and they nailed down a series win today in straight up dominant fashion. No mopey hangover from the A's 6-run 9th last night, as the Astros jumped on ex-Cub Jason Hammel for 6 runs of their own before he could record 3 outs. That, and no bullpen necessary this afternoon, as Dallas Keuchel was at his groundball best, allowing only 4 hits in his fourth complete game of the year. Astros win 8-1, and go into July's final day at 44-64 overall.


On the Mound:


*All Keuchel, all day long. After posting a 6.07 ERA in 5 starts June 17-July 19, the Kid with the Beard looked to regain his All-Star-esque form last Friday against Miami (7 IP, 2 R, 0 BB). Today, he was every bit as good as he's been all year long. Behold: 9 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 5 K. 111 pitches, 70 for strikes, and 12:4 GB:FB outs.


At the Plate:


*Most of the offense came in the 1st inning, but that was more than plenty with the way Kid Keuchy pitched today. Plus it was great to wash away the bad memories of last night's 9th immediately. Every Astro had at least one hit, and every Astro had exactly one hit, except for Marc Krauss, who went 0x4.

*But Krauss still contributed a RBI and a run scored after reaching on a fielder's choice.

*Going down the line: Jose Altuve matched a season high by extending his hitting streak to 12 games, going 1x4 with a BB and a K. Interestingly, he was the only Astro NOT to reach base in the 1st, and made two of the three outs that inning.

*Kiké Hernandez was 1x5 with a run scored.

*Jason Castro went 1x3 with a R, a BB, and 2 K.

*Krauss K'd once, and the rest we covered above.

*Jonathan Singleton contributed the non-1st-inning runs, going 1x3 with a 2-run HR into the Crawford Boxes in the 5th - his 8th home run of the year. He also walked and scored in the 1st, and K'd one time.

*Matt Dominguez was 1x4 with a R and a RBI.

*Carlos Corporan tried everything once more, finishing 1x3 with a R, a RBI, a BB, and a K.

*Mike-Bob Grossman had the other big blow, going deep to RF for a 2-run HR in the 1st, for his 4th homer of the season. He finished 1x2 with 2 BB.

*And Gregorio Petit went 1x4 with 2 K.


Turning Point:


Keuchel set the A's down in order in the top of the 1st, and Jose Altuve flied out to center leading off the bottom half, but then began the fun: Kiké single, Castro single, Krauss FC (RBI), Singleton BB, Matty D single (RBI, plus an error on the play let in another run), Corp single (RBI), Grossman HR (2 RBI), Petit single. Then Altuve K'd to end the inning, but not before it was 6-0 Houston.


Man of the Match:


#DoNotTradeKeuchel


Goat of the Game:


The Astros split six games against Oakland, but were swept by the Marlins in between. Whatever. No goat!

Wednesday Lunchtime Hot Links

Promote your #brand and #dominate your watercooler by lording this knowledge over your officemates and loved ones.

*George Springer took BP as he works to return from a left quad strain. 

*Mark Appel addressed the Corpus media as he prepares for his Double-A debut tonight:
I think I've prepared. I've thought about this moment, being here, playing for the Hooks ever since Spring Training, ever since I knew it was a possibility this year. I'm excited to be here. I think I've put in the work, put in the work to prepare myself to be ready for Double-A competition.

*Josh Zeid will have foot surgery and miss the rest of the season. He should be ready for Spring Training 2015 but will "have to learn how to use his toes" again. Maybe none of us actually know how to use our toes.

*Chris Carter will be out of the lineup for today's game due to plumbing issues

*Bob Melvin could hear the "Let's Go A's" chant in the 9th inning last night. At Minute Maid Park. 

PreStros Morning Report: July 29

TL;DR

*Astros domestic affiliates go 4-3
*Domingo Santana had a perfect day at the plate as OKC beats Round Rock
*Kyle Weiland gave up back-to-back-to-back homers in the 9th in a Corpus loss
*Lancaster went Total Offense to whoop High Desert
*Chase McDonald and Brett Phillips homered for Quad Cities 9th win in their last 10 games
*Tri-City dropped one to Aberdeen on a walkoff in the 10th.
*Greeneville scored three late inning runs in a win over division-leading Elizabethton
*GCL Astros wild pitched their way to a loss against the GCL Yankees2

Oklahoma City (55-57, 2.5 GB)

OKC never trailed in the first of a series at Round Rock, though they did give back a 3-0 lead. The RedHawks got the go-ahead run in the 5th, and then added three in the 8th en route to a 7-3 win. Brad Peacock threw 5.2IP, 7H/3ER, 5K:1BB, Anthony Bass allowed a hit and two walks in 1.1IP; Richard Rodriguez threw a perfect 8th, and Kevin Chapman gave up two hits and a walk but struck out the side in the 9th.

Domingo Santana was 4x4 with a walk and 2RBI; Austin Wates was 3x6; Jonathan Villar (BB, 2R), Max Stassi, and Joe Sclafani (BB, RBI, 2R) had two hits each for a total of 17 hits - 16 of them singles.

Man of the Match: Domingo Santana

Corpus (18-21, 6.0 GB; 52-57 overall)

Well well. Corpus had a 4-3 lead heading into the 5th before San Antonio plated a run in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and then four in the 9th on back-to-back-to-back homers for a 10-4 San Antonio win. Brady Rodgers allowed 10H/4ER, 2K:0BB in 5IP; Colton Cain gave up 3H/2R (1ER), 3K:3BB in 3IP; and Kyle Weiland allowed 5H/4ER and all three of those 9th inning homers.

Tony Kemp was 2x5; Ruben Sosa, Conrad Gregor, and Brandon Meredith had a hit and a walk each; MP Cokinos hit a 3-run homer, his first of the season.

Man of the Match: Tony Kemp

Lancaster (20-18, 2.0 GB; 64-44 overall*)
*clinched playoff berth

Lancaster put a whoopin' on High Desert last night, up 8-2 by the end of the 2nd and cruising to 13-5 win. Evan Grills allowed 9H/5ER, 2K:0BB in 4IP; Juan Minaya allowed a hit and a walk in the 5th, and Brian Holmes threw the final 4IP, allowing just 2H/0ER, 4K:0BB.

Tyler White (2 2B, 2BB, 2RBI), Tanner Mathis (2B, 3B, BB, 4RBI), and Jack Mayfield (BB, RBI) had three hits each; Chan Moon (SB), Teoscar Hernandez (2B, RBI), Rio Ruiz (2B, RBI, SB), and Jon Kemmer (RBI) had two hits each. Jobduan Morales was 0x3 but with 3BB.

Man of the Match: Well, the offense, and Brian Holmes.

Quad Cities (21-16, 1.0 GB; 56-50 overall)

Despite allowing three runs in the top of the first, Quad Cities scored the next seven runs on their way to a 7-5 win over Clinton - their fourth straight win and 9th in their last ten games. Andrew Thurman allowed 7H/4ER, 7K:2BB in 7IP; Tyler Brunnemann gave up 2H/1ER, 1K:0BB in the 8th and Frederick Tiburcio walked one and struck out one in the 9th for his 6th save.

Chase McDonald was 3x4 with a solo homer and 3RBI total; Brett Phillips was 2x4 with a double and a solo homer; James Ramsay was 1x1 with a double, two walks, and an RBI. Marc Wik was 1x4 with a stolen base.

Man of the Match: Chase McDonald

Tri-City (31-14, 8.0 up)

Tri-City and Aberdeen traded runs in the 4th but was Aberdeen who got the 10th inning walk-off hit for a 2-1 Aberdeen win. Randall Fant threw 5IP, 5H/1ER, 8K:0BB; Francis Ramirez gave up 2H/0ER, 4K:2BB in 2.1IP and Ryan Thompson took the loss with 3H/1ER, 1K:2BB in 2IP.

Bobby Boyd (SB) and Alfredo Gonzalez (2B) had two hits each; Derek Fisher and Nick Tanielu had your other two hits; Mott Hyde and Terrell Joyce each drew two walks.

Man of the Match: Randall Fant

Greeneville (20-19, 3.5 GB)

Greeneville had a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th, gave up two Elizabethton runs, but then scored three unanswered for a 4-2 win in a game with as many errors (six) as runs (also, yes, six). Brock Dykxhoorn threw 3IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB; Keegan Yuhl allowed 2H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 3IP; Dean Deetz got the BS/W with 3H/2ER, 3K:2BB in 2IP, and Eric Peterson got his 2nd save with 2K in the 9th.

Kristian Trompiz was 2x4 with a double and an RBI; Antonio Nunez was 1x2 with 3BB. Yonathan Mejia was 1x4 with a walk. Luis Reynoso added another RBI.

Man of the Match: Antonio Nunez

GCL Astros (18-16, 1.0 GB)

The GCL Astros got a first inning run, but that was it as the GCL Yankees2 scored five unanswered runs in a 5-1 win. Harold Arauz threw 4IP, 7H/4ER, 7K:3BB, 2WP; Samil De Los Santos threw 2IP, 2H/0ER, 1K:1BB, WP; Kyle Gehrs (2H/ER, 0K:2BB), Alejandro Solarte (2K) and John Gatlin (2K:2BB, 2WP) threw an inning each.

Connor Goedert was 2x4; Alexander Melendez was 1x3 with a double and a walk.

Man of the Match: Connor Goedert

From the Office of the County Clerk - G107: Astros v. Athletics

Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 2.70) vs Scott Feldman (4-8, 4.60)

Well, ain't that a thing. Three outs away from winning. Three outs from going up 2-0 in this series against the best team in baseball. One out, even, as the Astros still held a 4-3 lead with one on and two away in the 9th. Then a wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position. Then a walk put the winning run on base. Then it was tied. Then they fell behind. Then they were buried and dead. Oakland beats the Astros 7-4 on the strength of a 6-run 9th, and Houston falls to 43-64 with two days left in July.

On the Mound:

*It is shameful that the Astros' disastrous 9th overshadows, because the story tonight should have been Scott Feldman. For 7 innings, he was the story, out-dueling NL All-Star refugee Jeff Samardzija and giving his mates every chance to beat the A's again. Which they should have. Scott's line: 7 IP / 5 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 1 K, with the only run scoring on a Josh Reddick solo shot in the 5th.

*The Houston bullpen wasn't ALL bad tonight, as trusty Josh Fields fanned one in a perfect 8th.

*But trusty Chad Qualls was not so trusty tonight. A leadoff K followed by three straight hits cut Houston's lead from 4-1 to 4-3, but a fielder's choice at second notched out #2, with a man on first and one out to go. Then wild pitch, walk, single, the score was tied, and Qualls was done.

*Qualls' line was not done, however, as Tony Sipp faced one batter (Brandon Moss) and allowed a RBI single, with the run charged to Chad.

*Then Jose Veras came on and served up a 2-run double to Josh Donaldson, with one run each charged to Qualls and Sipp. An IBB and a groundball out and the A's 9th was mercifully over at last, but hardly the way Houston wanted. Finally tally was 5 ER charged to Qualls and 1 ER to Sipp.

At the Plate:

*Trying to remember the positives, Marwin Gonzalez got the Astros out to an early 1-0 lead with a solo home run to right in the 1st (his 5th). That sets a new career high for HR in a season for Marwin, and he finished 1x4 with a K.

*Kiké Hernandez also had a fine night, going 2x3 with a RBI double, a RBI triple, and a run scored.

*Jose Altuve's latest hitting streak is up to 11 games, as he went 1x3 with a walk and a RBI tonight.

*Robbie Grossman went 1x4 with a R, a SB, and 2 K.

*Jason Castro was 1x4 with 2 K.

*And Jonathan Singleton went 0x3 with a K, but still walked and scored a run.

Turning Point:

Whoever stuck the voodoo pin in their Chad Qualls doll after he struck out Stephen Vogt leading off the 9th. It went single, double, single, groundout, wild pitch, walk, single, and a 4-1 Astros advantage had become a 4-all tie by the time Qualls left the mound. Then Tony Sipp allowed a single to make it 5-4 Oakland. Then Jose Veras allowed a double to make it 7-4. Then Stephen Vogt made his second plate appearance of the inning and was intentionally walked by Veras before Derek Norris grounded out to end it. But, damn.

Man of the Match:

This was going to go to Scott Feldman before the 9th-inning goatpen meltdown, and it still goes Feldman now. Great job tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Um. Qualls.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jose Altuve's hits, in context

At the risk of jinxing what a great season Jose Altuve is having, let's try to put his 2014 season in context:

*149 hits in 103 games (1.45 hits/game)
*46 multi-hit games
*18 3-hit games
*2 4-hit games

*His 149 hits are best in the Majors, 13 better than 2nd place Melky Cabrera.
*Altuve is on pace for 230 hits, which would tie him for 36th-best in baseball history, and would be the most in the Majors since Ichiro's 238 in 2007. Should Altuve get to 230 hits, it would be the 13th season in the last 50 years with 230+ hits.
*In 2007, Ichiro had 147 hits after his 103rd game.

*No Astro has ever led the league in hits.
*Craig Biggio is the only Astro with 200+ hits in a season (210 in 1998).
*Following his 103rd game in 1998, Biggio:
129 hits, .315/.391/.491 with 31 stolen bases and five caught stealings. Altuve:
149 hits, .343/.377/.449 with 42 stolen bases and five caught stealings. (Stealings? Stolens? Stoles?)

*Just as an aside, Jose Altuve recorded his 2000th career plate appearance last night, and his .298 batting average is 2nd in franchise history (behind Moises Alou who, in 1777 PAs, had a .331 BA with the Astros).

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*With the Trade Deadline coming up on Thursday, we find from Adam Kilgore that the Nationals have interest in the Astros' relievers, specifically Tony Sipp. The Astros had scouts in Single-A Potomac and Triple-A Syracuse over the weekend.

*Well, great. We get to talk about this some more. Jason Castro told Brian McTaggart that Appel's promotion to Double-A is "pretty much a non-issue here." Castro also texted Appel to let him know there were no hard feelings. More Castro: "It wasn't something that really should have left the clubhouse. It really started as a joke and kind of got blown out of proportion."

*Luhnow had no comment for Evan Drellich, saying the issue was an internal matter.

*Meanwhile the Chronicle continued the Hard Nipple press, retweeting and commenting on various tweets (seriously, we need to make "So Obvi" a thing)

*Josh Zeid is set for an MRI on his feet today, and Jason Castro can sympathize with him.

*The Astros may schedule a private workout for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. Also within that link, hitting coach John Mallee is working with Jon Singleton to shorten his swing, and L.J. Hoes to drive the ball.

*Here's an update on CSN Houston.

*DFW's economy is suffering this season, thanks to the Ramgers.

*Jason Lane is the first pitcher since Troy Percival in 2007 to make his first MLB start after Age 37.

*Houston native and former Twin/Yankee Chuck Knoblauch was arrested last week for assaulting his wife, and his induction into the Twins HOF has been canceled.

PreStros Morning Report: July 28

Neither the Constable nor I have been around much lately.  He has this whole "interstate moving" thing going on, as well as a "career change exam" that he needs to pass.  I am slapping together a conference presentation, but have found myself with a little time on my hands thanks to a brush with swine 'flu - one of the many joys of dealing with sick people all day.  I will be able to do the PreStros again more regularly from mid-August onward, and have actually missed doing it, and keeping up with the organisational news in the process.  But it is hard work when the short-season teams are playing.  Without further ado...

* Strong day for the organisation, 5-2 today in the minors, aggregate record 292-254
* Oklahoma City loses a tight one after a wild inning from Ricky Vaughn Bad MF.
* Corpus won on a walk off
* Lancaster cruised on two strong pitching performances
* Quad Cities scored all their runs on homers, and won a tight one
* Tri-City also won a tight one, but didn't hit any homers.
* GCL Astros doubled up the Yankees2
* Greeneville got smoked, and will be mentioned no more, except right at the bottom.


Oklahoma City (54-57)

Oklahoma City are on the road in Nashville (59-51) at the moment.  Nashville scored three in the third, and that is all they would need, as Oklahoma City only managed a single run in the sixth.  Oklahoma City outhit Nashville 6-3, and out-errored them 1-0 in a 3-1 loss.  The RedHawks have been held to one or fewer runs in five of their last seven games.

Rubber Rectangle:  Mike Foltynewicz got the start, and was great in five innings.  Sadly, he pitched six innings, and in his third inning of work, he yielded 3 runs on 4 walks, 1 HBP and 1 hit.  His line: 6IP, 3H, 3R/ER, 5BB, 10K, so the rest of the time he was nails.  Pat Urckfitz and Richard Rodriguez combined on two innings of perfect relief, combining to strike out three.

Plastic Pentagon:  Only six hits here, with Carlos Perez (2-4) as the only batter with multiple hits.  Preston Tucker was on base twice too (0-2, 2BB, R) and he was driven in by Domingo Santana (1-4, RBI).  Matt Duffy (1-4) and Jio Mier (1-3) both had doubles.

MoTM-y:  Five-sixths of Folty gets the award, despite the loss, as encouragement.


Corpus Christi (52-56)

Corpus took the game into extras with a run in the bottom of the eighth to draw level with San Antonio (54-54).  They eventually won in the tenth on a walk off shot from Delino DeShields, who is probably a little peeved at being dropped from the MLB.com top 100 prospects list.  Corpus wins, 5-4.

Rubber Rectangle:  Luis Cruz got the start, and struggled a little: 5.2IP, 8H, 4R/ER, BB, 6K, 1HR allowed.  Mitchell Lambson and Tyson Perez were awesome in relief, combining for 4.1IP, giving up 2 hits while striking out 4.  Lambson's ERA sits at 1.47 for the year.

Plastic Pentagon:  Delino Deshields had a good night: 2-3, HR, 2R, RBI.  Ruben Sosa (1-4, BB, R), Brandon Meredith (0-2, 2BB) and MP Cokinos (2-3, 2B, RBI) were all on base twice.  Tyler Heineman (1-4) had a double.

MoTM-y:  Delino DeShields, although a serious shoutout to the relief corps.


Lancaster (63-44)

Lancaster dominated at High Desert (51-56), scoring all the runs they would need in the second inning.  Lancaster won, 7-2.

Rubber Rectangle:  Vince Velasquez got the start, and he was plenty good (5IP, 2H, 2R/ER, BB, 2K), but was only the second best pitcher of the night, because he was relieved by an angry Josh Hader (4IP, 2H, BB, 6K).  Hader strongly stated his case for a private bullpen session at MMP and a secret escort around the back of the park, avoiding the clubhouse in the process.  Shoulda been his, dammit!  His ERA now sits at 2.36 for the year.

Plastic Pentagon:  Jack Mayfield, whom forever shall be known as Large Jack, had a great night, going 3-3, BB, 2B, HR, 3R, 3RBI.  Chan Moon, Jon Kemmer (both 1-3, BB, with Moon having a double) and Roberto Pena (2-5, HR, R, RBI) were all on base twice.  Danry Vasquez (1-3) also had a double.

MoTM-y:  Jack Mayfield.  And yes, that was a Blackadder link.  Sadly, couldn't find the clip I wanted on YouTube, but here are a couple from the same episode.


Quad Cities (55-50)

Quad Cities had a bit of a ding-dong affair with Bowling Green (46-59), with the lead changing hands before the fourth inning, and the teams ending the fourth tied.  However, only one further run was scored, and that was scored by Quad Cities in the top of the sixth.  Quad Cities wins a tight one, 4-3 to sweep the Hot Rods.

Rubber Rectangle:  Adrian Houser (5IP, 6H, 3R/ER, 2BB, 2K) was the Vince Velasquez in this scenario.  He was plenty good, but was usurped by who relieved him.  Playing the role of Josh Hader was Kevin Comer, who was very solid: 4IP, 3H, BB, 3K.

Plastic Pentagon:  Chase McDonald and J.D. Davis both went 4-3, with the former also hitting a home run.  Other home run hitters included Brett Phillips (1-4) and A.J. Reed (1-4, 2RBI), the latter of whom homered for his first Midwest League hit.  Yes, all QC's runs were scored on homers.  Thomas Lindauer also had a good night (1-3, BB, 2B).

MoTM-y:  Lets go with Chase McDonald, who hit the go ahead home run, and had an otherwise great night at the plate.


Tri-City (31-13)

Tri-City only managed one measly run against Aberdeen (14-29), a team that their relative records suggests should be a rout.  However, that one run was enough, as it was the only run scored in a game that featured only 8 hits (5 by Tri-City).  Tri-City wins, 1-0.

Rubber Rectangle:  Troy Scribner got the start in this one, and he dominated, throwing seven innings, allowing only three hits, 2 walks while striking out 7.  He lowered his ERA to 0.77, and his WHIP to 0.79 in the process, but given that he has thrown at Corpus this year with some success, I guess that can be expected.  Jeffrey Gasue and Jordan Mills combined with a scoreless inning each, with both walking one and striking out two.

Plastic Pentagon:  The lone run was scored on Bobby Boyd's (0-2, BB) 2-out bases loaded walk.  Mott Hyde (1-3, 2B) had the only extra base-hit of the game.  Hits to Derek Fisher, Jose Solano (R), Ricky Gingras and Terrell Joyce.

MoTM-y:  Troy Scribner, of course.


GCL Astros (18-15)

The GCL Astros fell behind early against the not-a-typo-GCL-Yankees2.  They pulled ahead for good with a three-run top of the sixth, and they finished with another two runs to win by a score of 6-3.

Rubber Rectangle:  Justin Ferrell started (3.2IP, 3H, R/ER, 3BB, 5K) and was relieved by Christian Perdomo (3.1IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 3BB, 3K).  Junior Garcia and Juan Delis finished the Yankees2 off without incident.

Plastic Pentagon:  Alex Melendez and Edwin Medina both went 3-4, with the latter having a double and a triple, while the former added a walk.  Dexture McCall and Connor Goedert both went 2-4, with the latter having a double.

MoTM-y:  Edwin Medina for his HR-short-of-a-cycle night.


Greeneville (19-19)

Greeneville had a five run inning - which was good - but they allowed a five run inning - which was less good.  Even worse, they allowed a six run inning, and a two run inning.  If you are keeping score at home, they allowed 13 runs to Elizabethton (23-14).  Greeneville lost, 13-6.

Rubber Rectangle:  Um, a whole lot of ugly from Reymin Guduan, Krishawn Holley and Robert Kahana.  Zach Davis had a scoreless inning!

Plastic Pentagon:  Antonio Nunez had two hits (2-3, 3B), Jason Martin had two walks (0-2, 2BB).  And a few guys did some other stuff.

MoTM-y:  Um... Antonio Nunez?


Thanks for reading - hopefully, between the Constable and myself, we can combine on the PreStros a little more often.

Monday, July 28, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G106: Astros v. Athletics

Jesse Chavez (8-6, 3.14) vs Brett Oberholtzer (2-7, 4.32)

The Astros scored five runs in a weekend sweep by the Marlins. Then they welcomed the MLB-best Oakland A's to town. So of course tonight they went home run happy, going deep four times, including three in the 6th, and Houston did against Oakland what they couldn't do all weekend against Miami - win a baseball game. All Astros runs came in on long balls, and they beat the A's 7-3, improving to 43-63 overall. The win is Houston's 7th this July (7-15), making this officially their best July since they went 13-11 in July 2010.

On the Mound:

*With Brad Peacock sent down to AAA, Brett Oberholtzer's spot in the rotation has been cemented (at least for now). He celebrated tonight by doing what he did last week, holding the A's lineup in check all night. Oakland put up single tallies against Obie in the 2nd, 3rd (on a Stephen Vogt HR), and 5th, but that was still good enough for his third straight quality start - all games which Houston has won. Tonight's line: 6.2 IP / 8 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 2 K.

*Josh Fields got the last out of the 7th and the first two of the 8th (with a single in between), for one scoreless inning of work.

*Then Tony Sipp got the last out of the 8th and the first two of the 9th, before walking two to bring Stephen Vogt back to the plate. The threat (if there was one) stopped there, however, as Sipp got Vogt to fly out to center, ending the game.

At the Plate:

*Home runs for everybody! Tonight was the third game of the season in which Houston hit at least four over the fence (4 @ MIN 6/8, 5 v. LAA 4/6).

*cHRis Carter's came first - a 3-run blast to left-center in the 3rd that changed a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead at the time. The home run was Carter's 21st of the season, moving him one up on the injured George Springer for the team lead. Carter finished 1x3 with a BB, 2 R, and 3 RBI.

*Carter's walk came in the 6th, which Jason Castro followed with his own HR, going deep into the Astros' bullpen in right-center for his 10th of the year. Jason finished 1x4 with a R, 2 RBI, and a K.

*Marc Krauss went back-to-back with Castro, taking Jesse Chavez to the back of the second deck in RF for his 5th, and finishing his day 1x3 with a R, a RBI, and 2 K.

*Then one out later, Matt Dominguez hit the most impressive shot of all, off the glass behind @AstrosTrainGuy's tracks above LF - #13 on the year for Matty D. He finished 1x3 with a R, a RBI, and K.

*Jose Altuve kept a 10-game hitting streak alive with a 3rd inning single, and was robbed of another hit by a diving Josh Reddick in the 7th, so he ended up 1x4 with a R.

*Kiké Hernandez singled once, walked once, and scored once, finishing 1x2 tonight.

*Marwin Gonzalez had the other Houston hit, going 1x4 with 2 K.

Turning Point:

Houston's Home Run Derby in the 6th. With the score tied 3-3, Marwin Gonzalez led off and lined out. Then Chris Carter walked, and Jason Castro went deep. Then Marc Krauss went deeper. Then Oakland changed pitchers, Jonathan Singleton flied out, then Matt Dominguez went deepest of all. 7-3 Astros, and the five-game losing streak was snapped.

Man of the Match:

Plenty o' bats, but we'll give it to cHRis Carter, for driving in three and scoring a fourth.

Goat of the Game:

Jon Singleton had at least a walk, so Robbie Grossman as the only starter not to reach base - 0x3.

Shut Up MLBPA

You might have heard that the MLBPA is filing a grievance against the Astros for the Aiken/Nix situation. My response to the MLBPA is, simply, shut up. You made this mess. In the 2012 CBA, you sold out the rights to amateurs players, agreed to a convoluted cap on spending, (the kind of cap you had spent decades fighting against for your own members) all so you could get a few extra dollars in your members pockets. As a result...as an inevitable, foreseeable and direct result, the Astros draft blew up because of something they saw in Brady Aiken's MRI.

The Astros, based on what we know, are far from blameless in this matter. Neither is Casey Close. But the biggest culprit in this entire scenario, in my estimation, is the MLBPA. Let's take a look back at the negotiations over the the CBA, and in particular, the players' unions motivation in instituting a cap on draft bonuses. From a January, 2010 post by Buster Olney comes this tidbit
And there is a strong belief on the side of management that a slotting system can be completed, because the union will embrace the idea -- so long as the Players Association is guaranteed, in some fashion, that more money will be spent on major league players. How this happens remains to be seen, but there are agents convinced that the interests of the draft-eligible will be swapped out for the interests of the union veterans.
In other words, very early in the process, the owners believed they could get want they wanted in relation to amateur players, because the players would gladly negotiate away those interests in favor of their own. And that is exactly what happened. Under the Players' agreement with the Owners, what Jacob Nix could receive was directly tied to what Brady Aiken got. And if Brady Aiken didn't sign, the Astros lost the ability to sign Nix. Not due to anything about Jacob Nix, and not due to an internal decision made by the Astros, but because the Owners made it a priority (as they always do) to save a little money somewhere, and the Players decided what better place to give it to them than the draft eligible players. It was a win/win, for everyone but the kids who were going to be drafted under the system, who just had millions of dollars in potential earnings signed away, while most of them were in junior high or high school.

The amateurs were not at the table, there was literally no one protecting their interests. So now, after their system cost Jacob Nix 1.5 million dollars, the MLBPA want to fight to protect his rights. Well, you are too late. It was your complete and total failure to fight for his rights that put everyone in this position in the first place.




On the Hall of Fame Voting Changes

The Hall of Fame announced this weekend that they were making a very significant change to the voting process. The Hall has decided to drop the 15 years eligibility to 10, with only Mattingly, Trammel and Lee Smith grandfathered in. The biggest loser in all of this is Mark McGwire who now only has two more years to change the hearts and minds of the BBWAA about steroids, and Tim Raines, who now has three to change the hearts and minds of the BBWAA into believing that he was actually really, really good.

But, seeing as how this is Astros County, I want to take a look at how this will effect Bagwell. (If this effects Biggio at all, something has gone horribly wrong. You could argue something has already gone horribly wrong, and you would be absolutely right. Moving on.)

Bagwell will be going into his 5th year on the ballot in 2015, and dropped from 59% to 54%, due mostly to the stacked ballot. Bagwell would have had his eligibility expire in 2025. Now, it will be 2020. What does this do to Bagwell's chances to make it to the HOF via the BBWAA?

I think it will cut both ways. There have been many who have been on the fence about Bagwell, and have leaned on the 15 year period as an excuse to not make up their mind. There are some who just feel sure that there is some evidence of steroid use that someone credible has been sitting on for over 20 years, and won't vote yes until they are certain there isn't. You could argue that the lack of urgency has been hurting Bagwell more than anything. Now that the urgency has been increased, you might see more deciding they can't keep out a top 10 all time first baseman based on whispers and innuendo.  

Problem is, the ballot is not going to get any less stacked over the next few years. In 2015, here is a list of players that will likely get some support. Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, R. Johnson, P. Martinez, Mussina, Schilling, Bagwell, Trammell, Smoltz, Raines, E. Martinez, Sheffield, Piazza, Sosa, Kent, L. Smith, McGwire, Mattingly, McGriff, Sosa, Walker. That's 22 names, all of whom have cases with strong supporters. Mattingly will definitely drop off, as 2015 is his last year of eligibility. Biggio, R. Johnson, P. Martinez and possibly John Smoltz will likely be elected. Sosa and McGwire could potentially drop below 5%.

2016 adds Griffey, Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner, with the latter three likely to stay on the ballot for several years. 2017 adds M. Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Vlad Guerrero, none of whom will make it in their first year, but will likely stay on the ballot.  2018 adds Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel. 2019 add Roy Halladay, Lance Berkman, Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte. 2020 adds Derek Jeter at least.

Maybe Bagwell can make it through that slog before he reaches 2020. His best chance to pick up steam is 2016 and 2017. If he can get to 65-70% in those two years, I think he'll get in in 2019. But, if he doesn't, here is my best guess for the ballot he'll be facing in his final year. Bonds, Clemens, Mussina, Schilling, Smoltz, Sheffield, Edmonds, M. Ramirez, I. Rodriguez, Guerrero, Thome, Rolen, A. Jones, Vizquel, Halladay, Berkman, Helton, Pettitte, Jeter.

He'd make my 10, but can he make the 10 of 75% of the electorate? Even in his last year  of eligibility, Jack Morris lost support facing a stacked ballot. Bagwell's 2020 ballot could be even worse. Of course, Bagwell's case is stronger than Morris's. One thing that he has going for him is, based on WAR, he will always be in the top 10 candidates in every class he is in. Per Baseball Reference, he will outrank every new addition to the ballot except Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. (Fangraphs actually swaps Bagwell and Griffey). On my theoretical 2020 ballot, he'd rank 5th, behind Bonds, Clemens, Mussina and Schilling. That is becoming more important to the electorate, which will hopefully continue as the years progress.

Having Bagwell go to the various Veterans Committees will be one of the BBWAA's greatest shames. The new 10 year rule, unfortunately, makes that a tick more likely to happen.  


Oh You Have To Be Kidding Me, or, The Day A Bullpen Session Got The Chronicle All Whipped Up Into A Tizzy

I slept on it. I wanted to see if my perspective had changed with six hours of sleep. (Any more than that and I lose my #edge which hurts my #brand). It didn't.

So let's start with What We Know.

*We know Mark Appel has struggled this season.
*We know that on July 24, Mark Appel threw 6IP, 5H/2ER, 7K:0BB at Stockton in the longest start of his career and the best start of his season.
*We know that, following that July 24 start, Mark Appel was promoted to Double-A Corpus.
*We know that, on his way to Corpus, the Astros had Mark Appel come to Minute Maid for a bullpen session yesterday (Sunday) morning to throw for Houston pitching coach Brent Strom, before the players arrived for the third game of a series with the Marlins.

This is where the plot begins to wobble, because I interpreted yesterday morning's events (and I don't feel as though I was alone) as such: Seeing as how Houston is kind of on the way from Lancaster to Corpus, it made sense for the Astros to bring him in to pitch for possible future pitching coach Brent Strom, you know, to looks at his mechanics, offer some advice, you know, generally take a little bit of extra time with your 2013 1-1 pick in light of this month's events with the 2014 1-1 pick. It made perfect sense to me, a guy who has never pitched on any level beyond BP to his 7-year old nephew.

The Astros, however, did not like the fact that Appel threw a bullpen at Minute Maid Park, just hours before the Marlins finished off a sweep in which the Astros scored five runs.

It then turned into A Thing. "It's (expletive) unbelievable," said one anonymous Astro. Another Astro voiced his concern to Jose de Jesus Ortiz, and dropped even more expletives.

The Chronicle, smelling blood in the water and yet another chance to rip the front office, went full-on Hard Nipples on the Apparatus:
And hey here comes Texans beat writer Brian Smith!
And there it is. By getting last year's 1-1 pick in for a bullpen session with a pitching coach before the players arrived for the game, before said pick's final leg of his promotion to Double-A, the Astros have violated an unwritten rule.

Randy Harvey piggy-backed on the hoopla to write a column (which is apparently on the FRONT PAGE OF THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE TODAY):
The players don't believe Appel should have been working out in the Astros' home park until he has earned the right to call it home...the Appel incident makes it appear as if management is either tone deaf when it comes to players' feelings or, even worse, doesn't care.

This is absolutely preposterous. Do the Astros value Mark Appel more than, say, Josh Hader, who had his own thoughts in a since-deleted tweet. Of course they do. They spent $6.35m on Mark Appel, and traded Bud Norris for Josh Hader. That doesn't take anything away from Hader, he's a good young pitcher having an excellent season in a challenging environment. Mark Appel is an older pitcher struggling in the same environment, and the Astros wanted to get him out of there as quickly as possible to see if a change of scenery improves his career. You can swing and miss on trades. You don't swing and miss on your 1-1 pick.

You could say the Astros were trying to sneak Appel in, or you could say that there are only two non-stop flights from Houston to Corpus on Sunday mornings, and they really wanted him to make it to Whataburger Field in time for the Hooks' game vs. Midland.

You could even say that the two anonymous Astros players need to focus more on not getting swept by the Marlins. You could say that the two anonymous players should be more concerned with their own jobs than with what Mark Appel is doing before their game.

And let's be clear: this was a manufactured story. Ortiz tweeted two anonymous players who had problems.  Brian Smith felt as though it was his job to spend a significant amount of time commenting on an unwritten rule of which no one has ever heard. Randy Harvey wrote a column about it. The Chronicle went ESPN on this story, manufacturing outrage (I fell victim) and perpetuating it all day. 

Perhaps you remember a few years ago when the Houston Press wrote about how the Chronicle killed a story examining PEDs and Roger Clemens, among others (http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2011/01/craig_biggio_steriod_user.php). It feels as though the Chronicle's pendulum is now swinging the other way, where there has been an editorial directive to be the Tough Voice On The Astros, consistency and logic be damned.

It's not as though the Astros don't deserve criticism. From CSN Houston to Brady Aiken there have been plenty of well-founded opportunities to emote a shrug of the shoulders in print. But this is different. I saw literally zero people taking the players, or the Chronicle's, side on this. "Don't let a minor-leaguer use your bullpen before a game" is not an unwritten rule, it's a nitpicky way to act like a tough guy, to whip the dead horse of the Front Office's perceived indifference to basic human emotion and social skills. 

But if the Astros players don't feel as though the front office shows a commitment to winning, what does that say about them? "The front office doesn't want to win - and I'm Exhibit A in this, because if they cared, I would be on some other team's Triple-A roster!" That's ridiculous.

It's a farce, and I'm mad at myself for having wasted this much time on it. A lot of growing up needs to happen - the Astros players themselves, and the people who cover them for a living.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G105: Astros v. Marlins

Jacob Turner (3-6, 6.03) vs Collin McHugh (4-8, 3.28)

Collin McHugh returned from the disabled list to make his first start for the Astros since July 6. For 5.2 innings, he pitched very well indeed. But those 5.2 innings came after the first 0.2 of the game, which was a rough welcome back for McHugh. Three runs in the first put Houston in a hole their struggling offense couldn't overcome, and so the Marlins complete their sweep of the Astros with a 4-2 final. The Astros await Oakland tomorrow at 42-63 on the season.

On the Mound:

*A single, a triple, a sac fly, and a home run greeted Collin McHugh in the 1st before he settled in. Only three singles, a walk, and a solo HR followed as he pitched into the 7th after that, so overall it was a welcome return to the Astros' starting staff. But it was still not good enough to avoid McHugh's sixth loss in his last six starts, disappointingly so with a 6.1 IP / 7 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 1 BB / 9 K line.

*Darin Downs faced two batters in the 7th, walking one and striking out the other.

*Then Jake Buchanan followed to finish the game, and turned in his best big league outing yet - 2.1 nearly flawless IP with 4 K, and only a two-out single in the 9th allowed.

At the Plate:

*Houston's offense may struggle, but Jose Altuve continues to soar, going 3x4 with a solo HR (his 4th) and a SB (his 42nd).

*Jonathan Singleton matched Altuve's three times on base, going 1x2 with his own solo HR (his 7th), 2 BB, and a K.

*Marwin Gonzalez (1x4), Matt Dominguez (1x4, K), and Marc Krauss (1x2) were the Astros' only other baserunners, but none of them were ultimately of consequence.

Turning Point:

Christian Yelich led off the game with a single against Collin McHugh. Jordany Valdespin tripled to put Miami up 1-0 immediately, then McHugh fanned Giancarlo Stanton for out #1. A sac fly by Casey McGehee made it 2-0 on out #2, but Garrett Jones followed with a solo HR to give Miami a 3-0 lead. Doctor McHugh was rock solid after that, but Houston's offense only managed two solo home runs all day, so that 3-0 hole decided the game very early.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. We like Jose Altuve.

Goat of the Game:

Not gonna pick on McHugh, so All the Astro Bats besides Jose and Jon.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G 104: Astros versus Marlins

Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.85) versus Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.23)

It seems that Jarred Cosart has a fairly miserable record in the early innings this year, but a single 7ER in one-third would skew anyone's record.  Well, tonight he had some difficulty with they whole "strike throwing" thing early on, but he settled down to gut it into the sixth inning.  He was actually only one pitch from getting out of the second (his Waterloo inning) unscathed, which would have changed the complexion of the game entirely.  Still, the Astros lose their fourth straight by a score of 7-3.

On the Mound:
The aforementioned Jarrod Cosart scuffled with his command, walking three in the first two innings, all of whom scored.  He would add only one more walk to his night, however (an IBB when he was down 3-0 to Giancarlo Stanton), who wouldn't score, thankfully.

Christian Yelich walked in the first, and was grounded to second and third by Jordany Valdespin and Giancarlo Stanton respectively.  He scored on an 0-2 single by the clutch-y Casey McGehee, who is has some ridiculous slash-line with RISP (.370/.455/.454).  In the second, Cosart loaded the bases with a leadoff walk, a flyout (excellent running catch by Kiké Hernandez), a double (runner to third) and a walk.  Christian Yelich then singled on the ninth pitch of his at-bat (after being 0-2 down) through the left side, and all runners advanced a base with one out.  Valdespin stuck out, but all that did was set the stage for Giancarlo Stanton, who smoked a double on a first pitching hanging curve just past the diving Marwin Gonzalez for a bases-clearing double. 

Cosart settled down, but spent long periods of time out of the stretch as he allowed leadoff singles in the third and fourth.  His best inning was the fifth, when he retired the side in order on nine pitches.  He convinced Bo to leave him in with two outs in the sixth and Christian Yelich at the dish -Yelich again singled through the left side after the first two pitches were recorded as strikes.  Darin Downs relieved and retired Valdespin to end the frame after Yelich easily stole second.

The seventh belonged to Veras, who struck out two in a perfect frame, and the eighth belonged to Sipp, who also didn't allow a runner to reach.  Chad Qualls started the ninth in a non-save situation, and he did what he does in low leverage, allowing an opposite field two-run shot to left off the bat of Jordany Valdespin - his first of the year.

At the Plate:
The Astros took an early 2-1 lead when, with 2-outs in the first, Carter (2-5, RBI) hit a clean single up the middle, and Castro smoked a shot to right off the second deck façade on a 2-0 count.  Kiké Hernandez (1-3, BB, 2B) nearly hit it out in the second with a deep drive to the left-centre that hit the wall that lines the visitors 'pen - a few feet to the right, and he would have got the wall where the HR-line sat much lower.  But it didn't, so it was a double.  In the third, Altuve (3-5) and Gonzalez (2-5) reached with no outs, then watched from the corners as Chris Carter smoked one up the middle which ricocheted off the back of Tom Koehler and rebounded into the glove of a waiting Adeiny Hechavarria at short.  Castro and Dominguez both struck out to end the frame after the bad luck on a sure RBI-single.  In the fourth, Krauss (2-3, 2B) doubled with one out, but was also left at second, and in the fifth, Altuve and Gonzalez again singled to start the frame, and this time Carter's single to CF didn't involve crazy-bad (back?) luck, so Altuve scored.  In the sixth, a Grossman (0-3, BB) walk with two outs moved Kiké to second, but Altuve was retired on a hard-hit ball to left.

Altuve reached with no outs in the ninth, and Marwin Gonzalez had a 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a strikeout looking off former catcher Chris Hatcher.  Hatcher also retired the last two batters in order, and the game was done.  Plenty of hard-hit balls, not a lot of luck, but the result was again a loss in a batting lineup affected by key injuries.

Turning Point:
Can't moan too much here, given that Cosart hung a curve down the pipe to Stanton with bases loaded, and Stanton hit it hard along the ground.  Another foot or so to the left, and Gonzalez has a shot at a force at second for the third out.  Not to be, however, and the four runs the Fish scored in that inning were enough to carry them through the game.

Man of the Match:
Jason Castro, 2-5, HR, 2RBI.

Goat of the Game:
Matt Dominguez and Jon Singleton both went 0-4 with a K (and Dominguez added a GIDP to his tally) batting in the 5-6 slots.  That combination effectively killed any rallies that didn't involve a Castro homer or a Carter line-drive.

Up Next:
Jacob Turner (3-6, 6.03) versus Collin McHugh (4-8, 3.28)

2 Eastern, 1 Central.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G 103: Astros versus Marlins

Brad Hand (1-2, 4.86) v. Dallas Keuchel (9-6, 3.29)

The Astros, by virtue of missing three Centre Fielders (two of whom are amongst their best players offensively) have received sterling fill-in work from a mis-cast Kiké Hernandez in CF recently.  Hernandez, as I mentioned a couple of game recaps ago, started one game in CF at AA, and one at AAA.  Well, today it ended up biting the Astros as Hernandez made a critical error on a hard-hit line-drive that knuckled during its flight with one out in the seventh.  Two batters later, the score was 2-0 Marlins, and that is how it stayed because the Astros were shut down by a guy with a career 3-12 record.

Also of note is how long the Astros bottom-of-the-order looks against lefties, with Grossman, Hoes and Petit (called up in place of Anthony Bass) occupying the last three slots, and Guzman - who is not hitting at all - batting in the five hole.  It kind of seems like National League ball again, with Lane, Everett, Ausmus and whomever the pitcher-du-jour as the last four in the order.  That brings back warm fuzzies when thinking about 2004-5, and shivers down the spine when thinking of 2010.  Regardless it should never look that way in an American League park.  Because of the various injuries, this team looks seriously offensively challenged at the moment - although the team from the Dallas-Fort Worth area probably has dibs on injury-related sympathy at the moment.

On the Mound:
Tonight marked the return of the excellent Dallas Keuchel.  He was spotting his ball at the knees, coming inside to righties, and throwing his back-foot slider efficiently, getting swings in the process.  His final line: 7IP, 9H, 2R/0ER, 0BB, 7K.  He also kept the ball on the ground (9:4)

One may suggest the nine hits are a worry, but I would counter with the following facts: three of his hits were infield singles (one of them a bunt from Donovan Solano), and three more were seeing-eye singles along the ground just out of the reach of the fielders.  One of his doubles was a little unlucky (it hit third base) and the hardest-hit ball of the night was to the second-last batter he faced.  It could easily have been (i) a shutout and (ii) a win for Keuchel tonight.

That said, Keuchel also pitched very effectively around trouble.  He managed to make great pitches at critical times, including an inning-ending double-play in the fifth (with runners on the corners) and sixth (with runners on first and second).  The Marlins managed to string together some good at-bats against him, and he seemed to lack a put-away pitch, which was often a called third-strike at the knees earlier in the year.

He was unable to escape trouble in the seventh.  The frame opened eventfully, with a fairly hard-hit ball to right that Grossman ran down on the warning track.  It threatened to get over his head and go for extra bases.  Saltalamacchia then stung a line-drive to CF with knuckled, and Kiké had it bounce off the heel of his glove as jumped to track it down.  It was scored as an error, and Salty was on first.  He (critically) went to second on a passed ball, and Keuchel struck out Marcell Ozuna for the second out.    Then, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, on an 0-2 count, hit a slow grounder to short and beat out the throw.  If Salty has still been on first, the force at second may have been the easier play.  Regardless, runners on first and third, with the nine-hitter Jeff Mathis up.

Well, he stung a first-pitch fastball to the gap in left-centre (and it was well hit, hitting low on the wall below the giant pump), which scored two.  That was all the runs that the Marlins would need, and Keuchel's night ended two pitches later with a tame groundout to short.

Josh Fields relieved, and he managed a scoreless outing.  It wasn't an easy one, however, and he probably won't be ready to go tomorrow after throwing 34 pitches.  Fields' inning went walk, single, K (all on deep counts - 2-2 or 3-2), single to load the bases, fielders choice force at home, flyout to right.  The first three at-bats of his frame were excellent - the Marlins fought off a number of good pitches, and eventually managed to get two on with no outs.  But Fields got a critical grounder when it mattered, and he managed to leave the score the same as how he found it.

Veras finished up, walking the leadoff hitter, but retiring the side uneventfully.

At the Plate:
This will be brief, as the Astros managed only three hits and 2 walks.  The Marlins relief was excellent - the back-end of their 'pen is really impressive - and the Astros only managed to get two runners to second base.

Altuve went 1-4 leading off, and was caught stealing second on review in the sixth.  Carter (0-1, 2BB) and Castro (1-3, 2B) were the outstanding offensive performers, and were the only two Astros to get to stand on second all night.  Gregorio Petit (1-2) has an impressive .500/.500/.500 line for the 2014 season .  Krauss and Singleton both pinch-hit, and both K'd.

Gosh, and that was briefer that I could have imagined.

Turning Point:
An 0-2 slow roller to short could have ended the seventh uneventfully, but Gregorio Petit's throw to first was a hair late.  As has been the trend lately, Bo popped out of the dugout to show photos of his family to the first base ump while the Astros video team worked feverishly behind the scenes to see if a challenge was worth it.  It wasn't, and one pitch later, the Marlins scored the only runs of the game.

Man of the Match:
Chris Carter has been excellent lately, and against a guy having a career start, he was by far the best of the Astros batters.  However, he has to share the MoTM with Dallas Keuchel, who rediscovered his form while being a little unlucky with the BABIP-monster (the evil twin of the OPS-monster) and the extra-outs in the game.

Goat of the Game:
Kiké Hernandez has been getting a lot of positive press around here lately, but we-calls-it-as-we-sees-it, and he gets the goat tonight for his 0-4 performance at the dish, and his critical error in CF.  The error thing is a little rough because he is very mis-cast as a CF, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and in this case the desperate measure involves (i) putting a 22 year old middle-infielder with a handful of games above AA in CF and (ii) crossing ones fingers and toes.

Up Next:
Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.85) versus Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.23)

Cosart has had a rough time of it recently, allowing 14ER in his last 3 starts (15-and-two-thirds)

7 Eastern, 6 Central.  Some guy is playing some music afterward too, I think.