Saturday, July 4, 2015

From the Office of the County Clerk - G83: Astros in Boston

Collin McHugh (9-3, 4.51) versus The Stopper, Clay Buchholz (6-6, 3.48)

Crud.  It appears that Clay Buchholz is The Stopper after all.  He dominated the Astros tonight, coming one out short of recording a complete game shutout in a 6-1 loss.  He still managed a complete game.  The Astros bats weren't very impressive, but Buchholz dominated.  From what I saw of the game, he located most of his pitches very well.  When he missed his spots, he missed big, and it never came back to haunt him.  He certainly didn't miss over the plate much.

Anyhow, the Astros dropped Game 2 of the series to set up a day-game rubber match tomorrow.  Read on for a more complete description...

On the Mound:
Collin McHugh got the start, and he struggled from the get-go.  He lasted 5.1 innings, allowing 10 baserunners (10 hits, 3 walks, not including two errors which also allowed runners to reach) while striking out one.  The Boston offence has started to click recently, but McHugh was not sharp, again having trouble getting batters to bite on his curveball.  This is not a good sign, but perhaps this moves McHugh closer to solving the problem of why he isn't sharp sometimes, and what he needs to do to be sharp and effective.

In the first, McHugh did well to restrict the Red Sox to one run.  He walked Mookie Betts on five pitches, then Brock Holt! singled to right to put runners on the corners with no outs.  Xander Bogaerts followed with a single the other way - the pitch was an elevated breaking pitch off the plate away, and it kind of rolled up there with no sharp bite.  McHugh bounced back to get David Ortiz to pop out to right (and throw a tantrum in the process), Han-Ram to fly out to CF and Sandoval to go down swinging.

McHugh allowed another run in the second.  It started well, when Jon Singleton fell over while fielding Napoli's grounder, but flicked it to McHugh who was covering first in the process.  McHugh picked it up and stepped on first base to record the out.  Shane Victorino singled on a seeing-eye grounder through the left side, then Sandy León - entering the game hitting .146 - singled to put runners on the corners.  A sac-fly followed, scoring Victorino.  McHugh bounced back to face one over the mimimum in the third and fourth, with the only baserunner having a reached on error when McHugh dropped the ball covering first.

An unearned run scored in the fifth.  Brock Holt! reached second after striking out, when Conger threw it away.  Bogaerts doubled to left field, scoring Holt.  David Ortiz then walked, but McHugh again retired the next three in order, not allowing either runner to advance.  The sixth was McHugh's final inning, and he allowed Sandy León to lace a single to right on a 2-2 count - the hit was off a rolling curveball that hung in the zone.  Mookie Betts doubled down the LF line - the ball hugged the grandstand and rolled all the way to the corner, allowing the catcher León to score from first.

Hinch had seen enough, so he called on Roberto Hernández to mop up, down 4-0.  Hernández was effective retiring two of the next three to end the inning.  He came out for the seventh - retiring the side in order - and eighth.  In the eighth, he allowed two runs on a single, single, double to deep CF, grounder, grounder, walk, infield single (where Hernández failed to cover first) and pop out sequence.  The infield single was especially galling - Singleton made a solid play on a hard-hit grounder down the line around 10 yards behind the bag.  But he was left posted because Hernández didn't cover first - his only play was to get the force somewhere, but he instead tried to beat a diving De Aza to first, and failed by a hair.

At the Plate:
This won't take long.  Buchholz was very solid, which continued a good run of form for him.  He pitched 8 innings, allowing one run in his last start.  Prior to that, it was 7IP/1ER, 7IP/0ER, 6IP/4ER, 4.2IP/4ER and 8IP/0ER in reverse chronological order.  If I were a Red Sox fan, I would be maddened by his inconsistency.

Anyhow, the side went in order in the first.  Valbuena led off with a ground-rule double in the second.  He advanced to third with one out on a Gattis grounder, but Rasmus and Singleton struck out to end the frame.  The side went in order in the third, including another two strikeouts.  In the fourth and fifth, Buchholz set the side down in order on a total of 14 pitches - seven each inning.  Hank Conger reached leading off in the sixth - a line drive into RF, but he was retired on a fielder's choice, and his replacement was only able to advance one base on a wild pitch.  In the seventh, the Astros had singled sandwiching a double play.  The double play was pretty slick - Sandoval was standing where a shifted second baseman would be, and the ball was hit to his glove side.  He fielded it cleanly, turning his back to the infield and throwing to second in time.  His future is as a first baseman or DH - I wouldn't think he wasn't signed with the expectation that he would play third in the long term - so perhaps that piece of fielding plus his recent success abandoning switch-hitting may have Sox fans feeling a little better.

The Astros returned to normal function, going in order in ten pitches in the eighth.  In the ninth, Jose Altuve led off with a single, then went to second on a wild pitch and third on defensive indifference before Luis Valbuena singled to CF to score the lone run for the Astros.  Evan Gattis hit an 0-2 pitch onto the turnpike, but it was just foul, and he was the 27th out, flying out to RF on pretty much the same pitch about 45 seconds later.

The Astros had six hits, but four were leading off an inning.  They didn't walk, and struck out 8 times.    Luis Valbeuna went 2-4 with a double and drove in the only run of the game.  Altuve, Correa and Gattis all went 1-4, and Conger went 1-3.

The Astros weren't helped by the umps, but weren't really hindered either.  Buchholz got some calls away to lefties in a zone that the Astros struggled to hit, and down to righties.  One particularly flash call was up and away by about 6 inches in both dimensions.  No smoking gun here, but proof that Buchholz was able to hit his spots, and he got some calls that reflected that.  To wit:




Turning Point:
Collin McHugh never had his best stuff tonight, so if Buchholz was strong, the Astros were in trouble.  Despite that, McHugh battled, twice recording three outs with runners in scoring position and runs having scored in the inning.  The Astros really needed to bounce back early, and when Luis Valbuena hit a ground-rule double to LF and went to third on a grounder, he really needed to be brought home.  Not to be, as Colby Rasmus and Jon Singleton with struck out to end the frame.

Man of the Match:
The various commentators (both radio and TV) have talked about Luis Valbuena a fair bit recently.  His all-or-nothing approach is well described by his .201/.281/.440 stat line.  He seems to be demonstrating more of a line-drive swing lately.  Tonight, he was good, going 2-4 and recording the only RBI and only extra-base hit for the Astros.  Combined with his solid defence, the Dexter Fowler swap has helped the Astros a lot (and also helped the Cubs).

Goat of the Game:
Toss up here between McHugh (5.1 IP, 4R, 3ER, 12 baserunners and only one strikeout) and Colby Rasmus (0-4, 3K).  Rasmus hasn't been well, but someone needs to stand up with Springer out, and Altuve getting hot leading off, and Marisnick, Rasmus and Tucker all working their OBP up a little would go a long way toward that happening.

On the Morrow:
Another day game, and another tough matchup for the Astros, who have struggled against Lefties all season.  Note is made that Domingo Santana was optioned for Handsome Jake Marisnick earlier today, so a righty corner outfielder with power has been replaced by a versatile righty outfielder with speed.  This will also be a big test for Lance McCullers, especially since the youthful top of the lineup is raking for Boston, and the veteran threats in the middle of the lineup are always umm... veteran threats.

Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.19) versus Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.92)

1:35 Eastern, 12:35 Central.

Independence Day Link Dump

The Astros are 48-34, 5.0 games up in the AL West with the Angels beating the Rangers and the Mariners beating the A's. Check the sidebar for your latest postseason odds, courtesy of FanGraphs.

*Red Sox starter Justin Masterson:
It just didn't work out. That was pretty much about it. We had them set up well, they're all kind of diving over the dish, to come in and make good pitches in. By missing out over the plate, that's exactly what they're looking for. They did a good job of taking those pitches the other way.

*Jose Altuve:
I think this is one of the best games that we have lately. We start down, we score, we come back, we take the lead a couple times, we pick up each other. This is what we want to do, play as a team and win the game.

*The Boston Herald brought the thunder:
What matters is that this is just the way it's going to be this season: The Red Sox are dumb. Sometimes they're dumb and dumber. They may yet find a way to climb back into the AL East race, if only because the division is awful, but they won't stop being dumb. Get used to it. And if you can count to four, get a uniform. 

*Federal charges are going to be brought against a Cardinals employee...it's just not clear which employee could possibly be charged. The investigation by the Houston FBI office is complete and the ball is in the U.S. Attorney General's court.

*The investigation could take longer depending on whether knowledge of the security breach goes further up the chain.

*Marisnick and Rasmus should be back in the lineup this weekend, while Feldman will make a rehab start Sunday. Hinch, on Rasmus:
Hopefully we've cleared this bug bite. It sounds like one of the nastiest things he's had to go through. He lives in the back woods, so that's saying something. 

*In that previous link, it doesn't sound as though Lowrie will be back with the team immediately after   the All-Star Break, though sometime this month isn't out of the question.

*Jake Marisnick had a big rehab game last night in El Paso.

*Former Astro farmhand David Rollins, who tested positive for Stanozolol in the off-season and was a Rule 5 pick of the Mariners, has his 80-game suspension wind up today. The Mariners have to decide whether they'll put him on the 25-Man roster or send him back to Houston.

*Celebrate your independence by watching Carlos Correa straight murder a ball in the 8th inning.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G82: Astros in Boston

Dan Straily (0-0, 0.00) versus Justin Mastersen (3-2, 5.58)

The Astros rolled into Boston after winning four in a row (sweeping the Royals, and levelling the series against the Yankees with a win in the last game of that series) and managed to take the game in an offensive slugfest by a score of 12 to 8.  Only they didn't really win, because Boston played with spunk, and therefore take the Moral Victory, and now that tomorrow's starter is Clay Buchholtz, who has recently been promoted to The Stopper, the Astros will definitely lose the series 2-1.  They are lucky to have won this game, according to the hordes of Professional Sports Writers who hang around the mighty Boston side, and assign Reasons Why They Win (even when they don't) to every single activity they do.  Forget that the Astros had their tenth different starting pitcher for the season going - a guy who last pitched in the majors in 2014, and who had a FOUR digit ERA (11.85) - who was stepping in because Brett Oberholtzer officially Lost His Mind, after he was knocked around by the Yanks six days ago.  Anyhow, the Red Sox had one of their Awesome Offseason Signings pitching in opposition, whereas the Astros had some AAAA waiver bait on the mound, and somehow the Red Sox lost, but at least they Showed Some Spunk when it mattered, and the Astros are now toast for the rest of the series.

Of course, the irony is that the play of the game was when David Ortiz was going to be thrown out by eight yards and refused to duck or peel off going into second base.  So Jose Altuve's throw to first on a double play (which would have been in plenty of time) nailed him in his helmet and disappeared into the grandstand.  That killed the DP, and scored Bogaerts from third and Han-Ram got to head to second base, and he scored when Pablo Sandoval overcame some lefty-on-lefty violence (he isn't switch hitting anymore) to tie the game.  Those two runs were the only reason that the Red Sox even got to extra innings, but hey, the fact that every other major league player is peeling off when he is thrown out by one-third of the distance between the bases is a minor detail that we don't need to traverse when the Red Sox are Showing Some Spunk.  Holy Cow.

Anyhow, resuming normal transmission, the Astros won in extras by a score of 12-8.  How did it happen??  Check below:

On the Mound:
Dan Straily made his season debut, and despite conceding a bunch of runs, he didn't get lit up.  He was a little unlucky to give up the four earned runs (five actual runs) that he was credited with.  However, the Red Sox got to him early, ran up his pitch count, and exited him before the he got to the fifth frame.  He walked three and stuck out seven, allowing six hits, so he wasn't anywhere near dominant.

Straily opened fairly strongly, giving up only a single to Brock Holt! (perhaps a relative of Steve Holt!)in the first inning.  In the second inning, Han-Ram led off with a giant home run - estimated at close to 420 feet - before Straily rebounded to get the next two outs.  But then he walked ex-White Sox and Oriole Alejandro De Aza, who eventually came around to score on two singles.  Brock Holt! grounded out for the third out.

Straily walked around a full-count walk of David Ortiz in the third, and set the side down in order in the fourth with two strikeouts.  He entered the fifth with a 5-2 lead - at the time, I thought that if he could get through the order one more time, then the Astros would have the game close to sewn up.  But he wasn't able to do it - a one-out walk to Brock Holt!, then a single to Xander Bogaerts put runners on the corners with one out.  David Ortiz singled to CF on the first pitch.  That put runners in the corners again with one out, with Han-Ram at the plate.

The play is detailed above, but essentially, Ramírez grounded to third on a tailor made double-play ball.  Valbuena gave it to Altuve in plenty of time, Altuve fired to first again in plenty of time, but Ortiz was out by five yards, and instead of accepting this, he jumped up to drop into his slide, and the ball caromed off his head, into the stands.  Ramírez was awarded second on the carom, and he scored when Tony Sipp - in relief of Dan Straily - caught waaaaay too much of the plate on a 2-1 pitch, and Sandoval singled into the RF-CF gap.  Sipp bounced back to get Mike Napoli out swinging for the third out.

Sipp pitched the sixth, allowing only a two-out single to Mookie Betts.  Sipp seems to have been demoted to the second lefty in the 'pen, and I thought he was missing with his pitches tonight.  He seems to be getting into more deep counts than he has been when he was pitching well, and it is possible that he is reverting to his replacement-level ways.  Anyhow, Josh Fields got the seventh - talk about struggling lately - Fields went and loaded the bases with no outs.  He allowed a Bogaerts single up the middle to CF, then an Ortiz walk, then a walk to Han-Ram, which included a couple of generous called strikes that were off the plate.  Not the thing to do when you have a 7-5 lead, and sure enough, the lead evaporated, not that Fields was on the mound to see it.  Joe Thatcher was called on to get Pablo Sandoval, but for the second time in the game, the no-longer-switch-hitting Sandoval singled against a lefty from the left side, scoring Bogaerts and re-loading the bases.  Will Harris relieved Thatcher, and he got Napoli on a perfect 1-2 curveball down the middle of the plate before enticing De Aza into an awkward grounder up the middle that Correa was unable to manufacture into a double-play.  That tied the game at 7-7.

Pat Neshek got the eighth, and he entered with an 8-7 lead.  Mookie Betts took first leading off on an error by Carlos Correa, who failed to transfer the ball between glove and throwing-hand behind second base.  Brock Holt! sac-bunted him to second, then, in a giant brain-freeze, Betts tried to steal third.  Jason Castro's throw was right on the money, and Betts slid right into Valbuena's tag.  He was out by a foot, and Castro again executed the play perfectly.  Betts' error was magnified when Xander Bogaerts walked, then David Ortiz's double off the Green Monster took a very fortunate bounce off the top of the scoreboard, which delayed the ball coming down.  That, in turn, delayed the play home, and the game was tied again.

Roberto Hernández pitched the ninth in a tied game, and he set the side down in order.  Luke Gregerson entered the game with a 4-run lead, and he allowed no suspense in facing only three batters.  A rare blow-up for the Astros' pen, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in five-and-one-third.  Must have been all that spunk shown by the Red Sox.

At the Plate:
Preston Tucker walked on four pitches with one out in the first, but he didn't advance.  The side went in order in the second, and a Castro leadoff walk then a Tucker two-out single punctuated a scoreless third.  In the fourth, the Astros scored five runs.  Luis Valbeuna hit a line-drive into the RF-CF gap, then Evan Gattis hit a hard single the other way (the pitch was a fastball off the plate away).  That put runners on the corners, and Jon Singleton hit what looked like a tailor-made double-play ball... but he beat the throw to first to score the run, and record only one out in the play.  After a hard-hit out to Chris Carter (the second of the inning), the Astros strung five hits and a walk together: Jason Castro doubled on a fastball away to the Green Monster, Alex Presley grounded one up the middle, Jose Altuve singled to left field, Preston Tucker hit another one off the Green Monster (scoring Presley from second and Altuve from first), then Carlos Correa grounded a relatively routine play to Xander Bogaerts, who muffed it, but it was scored a single.  Luis Valbuena reached for the second time in the inning on a walk, then Evan Gattis grounded out for the third out.  Astros 5, Red Sox 2.

The Astros went in order in the fifth against reliever Tommy Layne.  They had runners on first and second with no outs (Presley and Altuve singled) in the sixth, then Matt Barnes relieved Layne, and he struck out the side.  Barnes came out to start the seventh, and he allowed a lead off double to Evan Gattis - he split the RF-CF gap perfectly, and the ball went all the way to the wall.  Barnes got Singleton to pop up (after throwing him a couple of hittable pitches) then Chris Carter fought a 2-2 pitch on the inside margin of the plate off into shallow RF that the hard-charging De Aza was unable to corral.  That put runners on the corners with one out, then Jason Castro walked on five pitches, loading the bases.

Alex Presley and Matt Barnes then went at it for eight fascinating pitches before Presley struck out on a low slider away.  Presley had a solid night and proved to be a tough out in a bunch of at-bats.  But Jose Altuve picked him up with a single up the middle that scored two runs.  The hit was on a soft line-drive just out of the reach of a diving Bogaerts, and it scored the lumbering Evan Gattis and Chris Carter, so it wasn't hit that hard.  That gave the Astros a 7-5 lead, which they promptly blew courtesy of Josh Fields.

Entering the eighth, the Astros were tied... for one pitch.  Carlos Correa hit the first pitch of the frame off the sign above the Green Monster that is located most toward CF.  It was a deep drive to one of the deeper parts of the ballpark -  a very impressive shot.  That put the Astros up 8-7, but they blew that lead as well, entering the tenth inning in an 8-8 tie.

Jose Altuve led off with a HBP - in much the same area that he was hit two days ago, but on his left elbow, rather than his right elbow.  Preston Tucker then pulled a hard-hit ball to the right side, right at Mike Napoli, and he let the ball go between his legs, allowing Tucker to reach.  Altuve was hung out to dry - Napoli had been holding him on, and had he corralled the ball, Altuve would have been toast.  But instead it was runners on first and second, with no outs.  Carlos Correa then gave the Astros the lead for the second time with a line-drive over the third-baseman toward the LF corner, and Jose Altuve scored.  With one out, Domingo Santana (a defensive replacement for Evan Gattis) singled to third base to load the bases (Sandoval had to leave his feet to make the play, and he had no throw) before Jon Singleton pulled a line-drive to RF to plate two - his first two RBI's of 2015.  Singleton then stole second, allowing Domingo Santana to steal home to score the 12th run of the game for the Astros, and secure the win.

Every Astro had a hit tonight.  On base four times was Jose Altuve (3-5, HBP) and on base three times was Preston Tucker (2-5, BB, 2B), Carlos Correa (3-6, HR) and Jason Castro (1-4, 2B, 2xBB).  On base twice was Alex Presley (2-5), Luis Valbuena (1-5, BB) and Evan Gattis (2-4, 2B).  Domingo Santana (SB), Jon Singleton (SB) and Chris Carter all had one hit.

Turning Point:
Alex Presley and Jose Altuve really worked Matt Barnes over in the seventh inning.  Barnes had entered in the sixth, and struck out the side with runners on first and second.  He came out for the second, and promptly allowed a double off the bat of Evan Gattis, then a one-out single off the bat of Chris Carter.  Jason Castro walked to load the bases, then Alex Presley set about getting the go ahead run to the plate.  He failed, but had a quality at-bat, and perhaps that helped Jose Altuve, who hit a line-drive single into CF with two outs to plate two.

Man of the Match:
Hard to go past Carlos Correa... but I am going to.  Jose Altuve went 3-5 at the plate, but not included in that is another HBP.   He scored three runs, and did well out of the lead-off spot vacated by the injured George Springer.  An on-form Jose Altuve in the lead-off slot would do a lot to soothe the loss of Springer.

Goat of the Game:
Pretty obvious this one.  Josh Fields - who has been solid so far this season - had a nightmare outing. His second in a row.  He allowed one hit and walked two, and he looked like he was again struggling with his command.  Deep counts are not a good thing for him, and he got into plenty tonight.

Up Next:
Happy July 4, everyone.

Collin McHugh (9-3, 4.51) versus The Stopper, Clay Buchholz (6-6, 3.48)

1:35 Eastern, 12:35 Central.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Curious Pattern that May or May Not Mean Something

This was more pronounced prior to the 12 games played yesterday (the Astros had the day off) but I noticed a curious pattern while writing the Game 81 game recap.  Game 81, of course, represents the half-way point of the season for the Astros... but a bunch of other teams haven't yet met that milestone, and won't for a while.

As at the start of today's game - Game 1 in the series against the Red Sox - the Astros have reached their half-way point of the season.  The Athletics - who played yesterday - are the only team in baseball that has played more than 81 games.  They have played 82.  The Astros and A's hit the mid-way point of the season together, and were the first two teams in baseball to do so.  The other teams that currently sit on 81 games (TB, NYY, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and San Diego) all played yesterday, so they hit the mid-way point of their season the day after the Astros and Athletics.

Some of this is doubtless due to the effects of having an indoor stadium, and being located in one of the more southernmost regions in major-league baseball.  The Astros have not had a game rained out this year - in fact, I am struggling to recall a game where a significant rain delay has occurred... I think there has been one.

Some of this is also due to the fact that the Astros are no longer in the central divisions.  The AL Central and NL Central both has the fewest total games of baseball played this year, with 387 games and 392 games played respectively in each division.  These divisions trail the AL East (401), AL West (401), NL East (401) and NL West (399) by significant margins.  This is unlikely to be by chance, as I imagine the schedulers are not keen to play up around the Great Lakes in April, or even May.

Of the teams that have played the fewest number of games for the season, one is a contender (Kansas City) and one is not (the White Sox).  The Royals have played a whopping 5 games fewer than the Astros (and six games fewer than the A's), which adds up to more doubleheaders and fewer games off.  The Astros have no double headers and nine days off after the All Star Break, including 2 days off in four days, sandwiched around a two game series against the Giants. The Royals have one double header (first day after the All Star Break, which is as good as it could be, really) and five days off after most of their team has to travel to start in the All Star Break.  What were the Royals fans thinking when they were breaking the All Star Game voting system??

This is an interesting pattern, and may or may not mean something.  But the Astros figure to have amongst the most restful schedules for the rest of the season, which could possibly help their stretch drive somewhat.

Anyhow, everyone, settle in and watch Handsome Dan Straily make his 2015 debut.

Friday Morning Hot Links

On April 9 the Astros' chances of winning the AL West were 3.5%. This morning, with a 5-game lead after 81 games, their chances of winning the World Series are 7.2%. This season has been weird.

But we still gotta go get Edinson Volquez.

*Despite backtracking on his no-trade list, a Jon Heyman source says that Cole Hamels is unlikely to approve a trade to the Astros. "He's just trying to say the right thing," A Person said.

*The Cardinals fired their Scouting Director, Chris Correa, yesterday in the wake of the hacking/cheating scandal. Within that story we are told that Correa was not the one who leaked the Astros' information to Deadspin, which means that someone else did. The FBI has apparently narrowed the culprits down to "four to five" individuals within the Cardinals' organization.

*The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz has an interesting response to the Cardinals. To cherry-pick a quote:
Fairly or unfairly, there's a deep stain on the Cardinals organization. And with the investigations continuing there could be new findings that increase the taint. DeWitt and Mozeliak need to perform a vigorous scrubbing to make sure the baseball side is clean and replenished.

*Be sure you read Not Hank Aaron's - who is a lawyer - response to this tomfoolery/douchebaggery.

*The Houston Press's John Royal - also a lawyer - has a take.

*Carlos Correa is your AL Rookie of the Month.

*The Astros signed 16-year old Dominican outfielder Gilberto Celestino to a $2.5m signing bonus. Celestino is ranked #7 on MLB.com's international prospect list.

*2nd Round pick Thomas Eshelman signed for $1.1m, $225,700 under the slot value for that pick.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cardinals Scouting Director Fired - Says Dumb Things

The St. Louis Post Dispatch dropped a bombshell today regarding the hacking scandal. Belying the notion that it was just some rogue intern, a Cardinals lawyer announced today that they have fired their scouting director, Chris Correa, over the hacking of the Astros database. This is huge news, and eliminates any possibility this will just be swept under the rug and forgotten. This isn't Bill DeWitt or John Mozeliak, but it's higher up in the organization that anyone could have imagined. 

In the story, a statement from Correa's attorney offered up his "defense" 

In a prepared statement, Correa lawyer Nicholas Williams wrote, "Mr. Correa denies any illegal conduct. The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to, or benefited from that roguish behavior."
Correa has admitted hacking into a Houston Astros database but said it was only to verify whether the Astros had stolen proprietary data, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert in this area of law, but, this is really dumb. Unauthorized access to someone else's computer is a federal crime, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That's why the FBI is involved in this investigation. You don't get to commit a federal crime just because you think someone has wronged you. I feel like this is important advice. If the Cardinals generally, or Correa specifically, believed the Luhnow stole proprietary information, there were avenues available to them to redress that alleged wrong. Major League teams cannot sue each other, but they can bring complaints to the commissioner's office, who can investigate. Luhnow has already denied that anyone has approached him with such an inquiry. Based on the hacking timeline as we know it, with the first hack occurring in 2012, it seems unlikely the Cardinals have been sitting on this for over three years. Especially considering that the statute of limitations, under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, is three years from the discovery of the breach.

This is in no way the end of the story. Correa admitted to the accessing the database once, but has not admitted to any subsequent acts or leaking the information. Which either means he is lying, or some other rogue actors will come to light soon.



From the Office of the County Clerk - G81: Astros versus Royals

Vincent Velasquez (0-0, 3.72) versus Edinson Vólquez (8-4, 3.18)

So, loyal and undoubtedly handsome Astros County readers, I need to apologise for my recent absence.  A combination of things led to my lack of game-recap-pery - not that I will bore you all with the details - but I couldn't let a sweep of the other good team in the AL (or, alternatively, the AL All Star Team) and the midpoint of the season go without comment.

And it's a great time to be an Astros fan - best I can remember, anyhow.  I was an Astros fan from the late 1990's, when I relied on the generosity of ESPN to screen Astros games on Sunday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball.  Occasionally, the ESPN crew got bored of showing the Yankees kicking everyone's butts, and turned to the NL to watch the Astros.  I got to watch a little more as the century turned, and the Astros remained strong into the mid-2000's.  This is - in my opinion - a better team than the mid-noughties version, which despite the presence of the Killer B's, were a largely punchless outfit that relied on a bargain-basement Roger Clemens and his pitching comrades to compete.  Aside from a brief period of 2006, and again briefly in 2008, the Astros simply haven't competed.  This team is a breath of fresh air, and it is amazing to think that they could be at the start of their tenure at the top, not at the back-end of the peak like it was in 2005 and 2006.

Anyhow, all of that is a long winded way of saying that this half-season has been a blast, and that continued tonight with a sweep of the Royals.  This was the pitching matchup that favoured the Astros the least, and despite being in an early hole, they pulled ahead, lost the lead, then scored a lone vital run to take the game by a score of 6-5.  The Astros have some fresh injury worries, but they get a day off before heading out on a pre-All Star Break road trip with the AC staff in a fairly jubilant mood.  The Astros are holders of the most wins in the AL, and lead the AL West by 5 games over the second-placed Angels.

On the Mound:
Velasquez looks more and more comfortable every time he takes the mound.  This wasn't a glitzy effort, like the one where he practically shut down the Yankees until Chris Young did his Albert Pujols impersonation, like he ALWAYS does against the Astros.  However, this start did show some moxie, as well as some dominance, but ultimately Velasquez was again left without a win.  His final line of six-and-one-third, five hits and one walk against seven strikeouts, allowing 4 earned runs isn't going to get anyone to call off hounds hunting for starting pitchers, but this could represent a moment when he earns more faith in his own abilities.

Velasquez started badly.  He got two outs without incident before allowing two big extra-base hits on two consecutive pitches.  Lorenzo Cain tripled on a fastball (Springer was shaded toward RF, and was playing shallow), which he drove all the way to the base of the wall to the left-field side of Tal's Hill.  The pitch was a solid location down-and-away, and would likely have been called a strike, but perhaps it was a little straight.  The very next pitch, Kendrys Morales took an outside fastball that missed a tiny bit up, and he hit a line-drive the other way for a lefties dream into the Crawford Boxes.  Castro sprung out to converse with Velasquez, and whatever he said, it probably worked, because Sal Pérez popped out for the third out.

The next inning, the Royals were at it again.  Alex Gordon singled to right on the first pitch of the frame, then went to second on a wild pitch, and scored when Alex Rios hit a liner to right field.  At this point, it was no outs in the second, in a three run hole, but Velasquez knuckled down to set the remaining hitters of the inning down in order.

Then he dominated.  One strikeout while retiring the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.  He faced the minimum in the sixth, thanks largely to an around-the-horn double play after a Lorenzo Cain one-out single.  Things ended badly in the seventh - Sal Pérez walked on four pitches, then Alex Gordon struck out swinging (on a wonderful inside breaking pitch) for the first out.  Josh Fields relieved, and he allowed a one-out single to Alex Rios (just wide of shortstop) and a two-out triple (full count fastball down and away, lined into the LF-CF gap) to Jarrod Dyson to allow Velasquez's and his own runner to score, and tie the game.

The eighth was significant for Pat Neshek - in relief of Joe Thatcher, who retired Moustakas with some lefty-on-lefty violence - hitting Kendrys Morales on his ample butt with a slider.  The home plate ump - potentially concerned about a beanball war - warned both benches, but of course the irony is that the Astros had three hitters hit-by-pitches, and two scored while one struck out.  Luke Gregerson came on for the ninth, and he preserved the narrow lead in a perfect inning.  Gregerson has looked much better after a shaky month in May and some of June.

At the Plate:
The Astros threatened early, after George Springer and Jose Altuve both reached (and later completed a double-steal) in the first.  But neither scored, with both Gattis and Valbuena striking out, and Chris Carter narrowly missing a home run by driving the ball to deep CF.  Carter - who looks to have returned to how we remembered him for the second half of 2014 - was the architect of the first run of the game for the Astros when he hit a one-out home run in his next at-bat (the fourth inning).  Volquez tried to bust him inside on a 2-2 curveball, and Carter hit a high drive that hooked into the CF-side of the Crawford Boxes.  Carter drew his hands in well, and was a little tied up, but he hit it well enough, and it still got well back into the boxes.  Marwin González then homered leading off the fifth - Volquez tried to bust him inside with a fastball, but it leaked arm-side and caught too much of the plate, and González made no mistake in driving it out to RF.  That made the score 3-2, Royals.

The scoring was not done for the fifth, either.  Jason Castro, the next batter, worked a walk, then George Springer was hit by a pitch that ultimately resulted in his leaving the game.  Springer was hit very close to the right wrist, on the same side of the wrist where the little and ring fingers are (which is important, because that is the most important part of the hand for grip strength).  Still with no outs, Jose Altuve singled up the middle, and took second when Jarrod Dyson tried to gun Springer down at third base.  With two runners in scoring position, and on an 0-2 count after having been made to look very silly by Edinson Vólquez's offspeed and breaking pitches, Evan Gattis took a slider that caught too much of the strike zone, and he lined it over the second baseman's head into RF.  Gattis' at bat ended in a TOOTBLAN - trying to take second - which is a pity because there were still no outs at that stage, but all reaching base would have given him was a premiere viewing position to observe Valbeuna and Carter striking out.  Astros 5, Royals 3.

The Astros threatened again in the next frame.  Jon Singleton singled to lead off the frame, then Preston Tucker followed with another single (against a situational lefty, too).  Both hits were to straight-away RF, and both were hit hard, Singleton's on the ground, and Tuckers' in the air.  But a groundout sandwiched around two strikeouts ended the frame without the runners touching home.  González's strikeout was especially weird - he was hit on the back (right) leg while swinging for the third strike.

The decisive run of the game scored in the seventh.  Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch leading off the frame.  He was also hit on the right forearm - much closer to the elbow than Springer, and so hopefully this will have less of a lasting effect.  Regardless, Altuve doesn't need his forearms to steal bases, which is what he did three pitches later, and then he advanced to third on Evan Gattis' hard-hit liner, which got away from pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Valbeuna then walked on four pitches to put runners on the corners with one out, which set up the double-play.  Chris Carter was the batter, and he grounded a slow roller to third.  Moustakas charged the ball and went home to try and nab Altuve, but Altuve was ruled safe.  Replays (after the appeal from Ned Yost) showed that the play was very, very close, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call, and the go-ahead run was confirmed.

A Jason Castro double was the only action in the bottom of the eighth.  Goodness, look at Wade Davis' ERA: 0.26!  Castro had a strong night, walking once while going 1-3.  Chris Carter went 1-4, but hit a home run and scored Altuve on a fielder's choice groundout.  Also going 1-4 was Marwin González (HR), Preston Tucker, Jon Singleton and Evan Gattis (2RBI).  Jose Altuve had a standout night, going 3-4 with an RBI, stealing two bases, scoring the winning run, and reaching on a hit-by-pitch as well.  George Springer had a promising night cut short, going 1-2 with a stolen base.

Turning Point:
After Marwin González ambushed Edinson Vólquez leading off the fifth, Castro followed with a walk, then George Springer wore a pitch to the right wrist to put runners on first and second with no outs.  Singles from Altuve and Gattis resulted in three total runners scoring, and the Astros took an important 5-3 lead.  They weren't able to hold it, but I like how solid the plate appearances were after the González homer.

Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve seems to have returned from his hamstring-related rest with renewed energy.  He had a very solid 3-4 night, scoring 2 runs, stealing two bases, and wearing a pitch for the team.

Goat of the Game:
A sweep over the AL All Stars would have me prefer to not award a goat.

Up Next:
Day off tomorrow, then the Astros will meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  I have watched the Astros play at Fenway Park before - but that is a story for another time.  It looks like Handsome Dan Straily and his sub-90 mph fastball will make a triumphant return to the majors.  He is opposed by Justin Mastersen (3-2, 5.58).

7 Eastern, 6 Central, but remember that this game is Friday night, and Thursday is a night off.

Watch out for George Springer's progress.  It looks like the plan for Handsome Jake Marisnick was for a longer rehab assignment, but he may be activated in time to get to Boston to either start in CF, or provide cover for Springer or Rasmus.  It seems that Colby Rasmus may not have recovered from his infection in time to meet the team in Boston, either.  My pick is that Rasmus heads to Boston, and Marisnick joins the team in Cleveland, with either Singleton or Santana being optioned to make room for him.  There is a non-zero chance that Marisnick is optioned to Fresno, with Rasmus and Springer manning CF.  There is also a non-zero chance that someone heads to Fresno to make room for Jonathan Villar to come up and provide cover over multiple positions

Update: it seems that Springer may be headed to the DL.

Someone will need to be optioned for Handsome Dan Straily, who is not on the 25-man.  That space may be created by George Springer, if Rasmus is able to return immediately.  Either way, the Meat Wagon is running out of room, and the All Star Break can't arrive fast enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

State of the Astros: Third Base

Over the next several days/couple weeks, I'd like to take a position-by-position look at the Astros, getting a quick overview of the current starters, backups, and minor league players who could contribute this season.


Starter - Luis Valbuena

Valbuena has been one of the more polarizing players on the squad this year. He's currently leading the team in home runs with 19, which is already 3 more than his career high coming into the season. He's also carrying an absurdly low BABIP at .176 en route to a .195 average, despite being one of the top hitters in "hard-hit contact" this season. While some of those hard hit balls are carrying over the wall and, thus, don't factor into his BABIP you could make a case that he has been very unlucky on the balls he's kept inside the fence. If you plugged his career .258 BABIP (which is also low but may be his true talent level for balls in play) into this year's numbers he'd be hitting .249, same as last season. All that said, he's been an essentially league average bat when looking at his 99 wRC+. But what an extremely unusual way to get there. He's been worth .4 WAR so far and the projections suggest he'll add another 1 WAR in the second half. (Note: I started writing this a couple days ago, so some stats may be slightly different now.)

Reasonable end of season projection ranges

AVG - .200-.230
OBP - .290-.310
SLG - .400-.440

Backup - Jed Lowrie ? (Injured)

Given that Correa has pretty much established himself as not only the shortstop of the future, but also of the present, I'm expecting Lowrie to see a significant portion of his playing time at third base upon his return from injury. He could very well end up replacing Valbuena as the starter, as well. Barring a trade, whoever isn't the starting 3B would probably end up being a utility guy, where either figures to be an upgrade over Marwin Gonzalez and/or Villar. I won't go into Lowrie's numbers, as we just did that in the last installment

Prospect - Colin Moran

Moran, who was a 1st round draft pick by the Marlins in 2013 before coming to the Astros in the Cosart trade, is currently in Corpus Christi. He's considered a line drive contact hitter with below average power and an adequate glove at third. He was a top 100 prospect in 2014 but, despite finishing the year hitting .296 between A+ and AA ball, his lack of power development seems to have taken him off some people's radar.

Prospect - Matt Duffy

Duffy has, as far as I know, never shown up on a prospect list. He was a 20th round pick in 2011 but has put up decent numbers as he's steadily climbed the ranks. In a little over a full season at AAA he's hitting .280 with 20 HRs. I don't think he'll ever see much playing time in Houston, barring injury or some other event that leaves the Astros no choice. He's been playing some at 1B, though, which could give him a little extra value.

Prospect - JD Davis

Davis was the Astros 3rd round pick in 2014. He's currently in Lancaster where, not surprisingly, his power has been serving him well. He could move quickly but at this point he's firmly behind Moran in the pecking order. A noticeable increase in Davis' strikeout rate this year could portend a potential issue going forward, but so far it hasn't slowed him down much.

Summary

With either Valbuena or Lowrie down the stretch I'd grade the third base situation right now as a C+ to B- though where those two are performance-wise in the second half is difficult to predict right now. I'm also not overwhelmed by the prospects working their way up, though I think at least one of them should be at least an average big leaguer in the near to mid future. 

Picking your Poison: Three Starting Pitchers edition

It's July, which means it's officially Trade Month, and for the first time in a while we as fans are interested in the major league pieces that might actually be acquired this month, rather than which minor-league pieces might be coming in to help some distant Astros team that might contend. 

Johnny Cueto

The 29-year old Cueto is the youngest of the three starting pitchers we'll examine today. Depending on when the Astros trade for him, they would owe him in the $4-5m range for 2015, but he is a rental. Due to the rental status, the prospects required by the Reds wouldn't wouldn’t be as high as, say, Cole Hamels (hold on for him). 

Cueto led the National League in innings pitched (243.2), strikeouts (242), and hits/9 (6.2) in 2014.
In 2015, Cueto has thrown 96.2IP, 72H/32ER, 92K:19BB, cutting his walk rate by 0.6 BB/9 from 2014 to 2015. He’s a flyball pitcher, getting only a 41.4% groundball rate – quite a departure from what the Astros have seemingly valued in the past couple of seasons. That said, his 2.98 ERA isn’t terribly out of line from his 3.37 FIP or 3.28 xFIP. His .238 BABIP is spot-on with his 2014 (also .238) and 2013 (.236).

Jeff Samardzija

Like Cueto, the 30-year old Samardzija would be a rental player, having signed a 1-year, $9.8m deal in the offseason, meaning the Astros would owe him somewhere in the $4m range if they acquire him at the deadline. 

Samardzija has been somewhat disappointing this season, his 4.56 ERA the highest of his career in any season in which he threw over 35IP. His 123 hits allowed lead the league, but he’s the victim of some bad luck, as the ERA belies his 3.65 FIP and 3.83 xFIP, and because the White Sox are a poor defensive team, posting a -37.6 rating on FanGraphs (the Astros are rated at -8.8, but I still am not sure how FanGraphs’ accounts for extreme shifting).

Samardzija is also getting fewer groundballs than in recent years. His groundball rate is 39.6%, down from the 50.2% he got with the Cubs and A’s in 2014, and the 48.2% he posted in 2013.

Cole Hamels

Considered the jewel of possible trade bait, whichever team trades for Hamels is definitely not getting a rental: he is owed what is left of his $22.5m salary in 2015, and then $22.5m in each of the 2016-18 seasons, with a $19m vesting option ($6m buyout) for 2019. Or if Hamels meets 400IP in 2017-18 combined, 200IP in 2018, and is not on the DL at the end of 2018 with a shoulder or elbow injury, a $24m option automatically vests for 2019. He’s expensive, in terms of cash money and prospects.

The Phillies are in 2015 where the Astros were in 2009. Their roster is old and hurt and expensive, and their minor-league system isn’t in the best shape of its life. This can be attributed to trades and extensions made in order to stay in contention over the previous ten years. Sound familiar?

Hamels is 31 years old, so he’s under contract through his Age 34 season. But he also just may fit the Astros’ preferred profile the best of the three listed possibilities. He has a 48.6% groundball rate, and his 3.22 ERA is in line with his 3.43 FIP and 3.21 xFIP. Hamels has been a 4-5 WAR player since 2011, and is already at 2.0 WAR this season. And he’s another lefty for a rotation that only features Ace Keuchel 

But going back to the Phillies and possible trade demands, Hamels is perhaps Ruben Amaro’s only shot to restock the farm system with one trade. You thought the Astros’ haul for Hunter Pence was nice? That’s not going to get it done for Hamels, unless Jeff Luhnow turns out to be some sort of Actual Sorcerer, and Ruben Amaro is actually as dumb as we’re all led to believe. Do you like Lance McCullers? Vince Velasquez? At least one, if not both, are gone. The conversation likely starts there. Correa isn’t going anywhere, but he’s likely the only untouchable on the list. Appel, Brett Phillips, Tony Kemp, Preston Tucker Colin Moran would also be on the list. The Phillies are going to want to get better quickly by dealing the ace of their rotation. They’re not going to respond positively to your dumb fantasy trades where you offer Jed Lowrie, Chris Carter and six scrubs for Mike Trout. They don't need Chris Carter, because they have a more expensive version in Ryan Howard. 


Of course, these are just three starting pitchers to which the Astros have been linked. You can bet that the Astros have inquired on pitchers that haven’t been mentioned and, honestly, any of these would serve as a necessary upgrade to a potential playoff rotation. Pick your poison. Who do you want and, more importantly, how much are you willing to give up?

Wednesday Morning Link Dump

Well and so the Astros beat the AL All-Star team for a second straight night, with Keuchel doing Keuchel things.  At 46-34, the Astros are four games up on the Angels, with a season-high 58.6% chance of winning the division and 75.1% chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs.  Baseball Prospectus puts the Astros' division chances at 50.7% and the postseason chances at 68.9%.

Let's start with The Weird:
*Dallas Keuchel is the first Astros pitcher to ten wins before the All-Star Break since Roy Oswalt in 2005.

*"The Hill...it got me."
-Lorenzo Cain

*"I'm just happy to be drafted by a team that actually loves me."
-Daz Cameron, who took BP with Carlos Correa prior to Tuesday's game

*Meat Wagon Update: Scott Feldman is looking at a return this month, Colby Rasmus probably won't make the road trip to Boston, Jake Marisnick starts a rehab assignment today, Brad Peacock hopes to throw off a mound next week, and Jed Lowrie still hasn't picked up a real bat. Asher Wojciechowski or Dan Straily will make Friday's start in Oberholtzer's place.

PreStros Morning Report: June 30

TL;DR

*Astros affiliates go 3-5 on the day
*Brady Rodgers throws a strong start and Nolan Fontana gets three hits in a 10-5 Fresno win.
*Corpus is at the Texas League All-Star Break
*Lancaster rallied back from 7-0 down only to lose 9-8
*Quad Cities won the completion of Monday's game but dropped the 7-inning Tuesday game
*Tri-City lost 2-1 at Connecticut
*Connor Goedert went 3x4 with 4RBI and three runs scored in a Greeneville win
*The GCL Astros extended their season-opening losing skid to eight games.

Fresno (45-34, 6.0 up)

Fresno stopped a four-game losing streak by going up 8-0 with the help of a 5-run 6th inning and then holding off El Paso for a 10-5 win. Brady Rodgers threw 6.2IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:0BB; Mitch Lambson hit a batter in 1.1 scoreless/hitless IP; and Tyson Perez allowed 3H/2ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP.

Nolan Fontana was 3x4 with a walk and and RBI; Robbie Grossman was 2x3 with three walks and a stolen base; Tony Kemp (2B, RBI),  Matt Duffy (RBI), Jonathan Villar, Tyler Heineman (2RBI), and Andrew Aplin (BB, 2RBI) all had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Robbie Grossman

Corpus (51-25, clinched playoff berth)

Texas League All-Star Game. Conrad Gregor was 0x3, Tyler White was 0x2, and Roberto Pena was 0x1 as the North defeated the South 9-4. Chris Devenski threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB; Travis Ballew allowed 2H/0ER in 0.2IP, Jandel Gustave struck out one and walked three, allowing 3ER; and Aaron West got the final two outs of the game.

Lancaster (40-35 overall, 3-2 in 2nd Half, 1.0 GB)

Down 7-0 by the middle of the 3rd inning, Lancaster started a comeback that would result in a 7-7 tie heading into the 9th, but allowing two runs in the top of the 9th, the rally fell short as the JetHawks fell to Inland Empire 9-8. Troy Scribner allowed 9H/7ER, 5K:5BB in 6IP; Andrew Walter allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in the 7th, and Reymin Guduan allowed 3H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 2IP.

Chase McDonald was 2x5 with a double and a 9th inning solo homer; James Ramsay also had two hits, a stolen base, and an RBI. Derek Fisher and J.D. Davis drove in two runs each. Mott Hyde and Jack Mayfield had a hit and a walk; A.J. Reed was 0x3 with 2BB.

Man of the Match: Chase McDonald

Quad Cities (49-25, clinched playoff berth)

Game 1: Quad Cities and Beloit finished Game 1 due to Monday's cancellation, but Game 1 went 12 innings with Quad Cities prevailing, 2-1. Brandon McNitt threw 3.1IP, 2H/0ER, 1K:2BB; Michael Freeman threw 2.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB; Riley Ferrell made his professional debut, allowing two hits and the tying run with 1K:0BB in the 7th to send it to extras; Angel Heredia threw 4IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:2BB and Jordan Mills got the win with a perfect 12th.

Nick Tanielu was 3x6; Ramon Laureano was 2x5; Ryan Bottger was 1x4 with two walks and your lone RBI; Jamie Ritchie, Alex Bregman, Alex Hernandez, and Bobby Boyd each had a hit and drew a walk.

Man of the Match: Angel Heredia

Game 2: Beloit put up three runs in the 2nd, which was all they'd need in what would be a 4-1 Quad Cities loss. David Paulino allowed 7H/3R (2ER), 4K:1BB in 4IP; Eric Peterson threw 2IP, 3H/1ER, 1K:2BB; Ryan Thompson allowed 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB in 1IP.

Ramon Laureano was 2x3 with the only run scored and two stolen bases; Sean McMullen was 0x0 with two walks and an RBI sac fly scoring Laureano. Other than that it was a big buncha nothin.

Man of the Match: Ramon Laureano

Tri-City (5-7, 5.0 GB)

Tri-City struck first with a run in the 2nd, but Connecticut got it done with a 2-1 win. Trent Thornton threw 4IP, 6H/1ER, 6K:0BB; Scott Weatherby allowed 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 2.1IP, and Steve Naemark retired all five batters he faced.

Bobby Wernes was 2x3 with a walk and an RBI; Dexture McCall was 1x3 with a walk; Cesar Carrasco and Antonio Nunez had your other hits.

Man of the Match: Trent Thornton

Greeneville (5-3, tied for 1st)

Princeton took a 2-0 lead in the first, but Greeneville responded with six unanswered runs on their way to a 10-6 win. Yhoan Acosta allowed 4H/5R (3ER), 3K:1BB in 3.1IP; Juan Delis allowed 2H/0ER, 2K:2BB in 1IP; Cristhopher (not a typo) Santamaria faced one batter and got two out; Zac Grotz threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB and Jacob Dorris allowed 0H/1ER, 3K:2BB.

Connor Goedert had a weird day, going 3x4 with a homer, 4RBI, three runs scored, a stolen base, and an error. Randy Cesar was 2x5 with a grand slam in the 3rd. Kevin Martir went 3x4 with a walk and 2RBI; Aaron Mizell was 2x4 with a walk, and Luis Payano was 2x4 with a double.

Man of the Match: Connor Goedert

GCL Astros (0-8)

Game 1: The GCL Astros lost 2-1 to the GCL Phillies. Jose Rosario allowed 5H/2ER, 3K:0BB; Edgardo Sandoval allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 4IP; Carlos Hiraldo threw two hitless/scoreless innings, and Adonis Pena allowed a hit in 1IP. Bryan De La Cruz was 2x4; Frankeny Fernandez was 1x3 with a triple and a walk; Reiny Beltre was 1x3 with a walk; Vicente Sanchez was 0x1 with three walks. Kyle Tucker went 0x4 with 3K.

Man of the Match: Edgardo Sandoval

Game 2: The GCL Phillies extended the GCL Astros' losing streak to open the season to eight games with a walk-off 1-0 win. Diogenes Almengo threw 5IP, 3H/0ER, 3K:0BB and Enrique Chavez allowed 3H/1ER, 2K:2BB in 2.1IP. Wander Franco was 2x3, Ruben Castro (SB) and Jared Cruz had your other hits.

Man of the Match: Diogenes Almengo

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Morning Link Dump

Gotta get right to it...

*ESPN: Lance McCuller's emergence shows difference between Astros and Royals

*MLB: McCullers continues to impress

*Hinch: "We've been confident long before we were given credit."

*The Astros are expected to introduce Daz Cameron today

*Colby Rasmus was apparently bitten by a spider on his left wrist, which then got infected, and he hasn't played since Saturday.

*Luke Gregerson is relying more on his sinker this year

*1-2 pick Alex Bregman is ready for things to calm down. He says "ready to work" three times in one interview.

*The Angels and Orioles are interested in trading for L.J. Hoes

*Here's the New York Times, on Tal's Hill

*Jameis Winston was at Sunday's Astros/Yankees game, and made a kid's day