Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

There is a big ol pile of human feces on a mattress in Minute Maid Park after Wade Miley's bowels was loose on the mound in a game that could have resulted in a third straight division title. Instead, the champagne goes back on ice for another day. Maybe tomorrow. Astros lose 8-4, snapping a 6-game win streak. Houston is 101-54. There are seven games remaining.

*Houston is now 10-4 against Anaheim. They're now a paltry 31-6 at home against AL West teams.

*Scoreboard Watching: the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, the Dodgers lost to Colorado.

Houston (101-54): -
New York (101-55): -0.5
Los Angeles (99-56): -2.0

*Wade Miley: 1IP, 4H/4ER, 0K:1BB. He faced nine batters.

Miley's September: 50 batters faced, 22 outs. 7.1IP, 23H/18ER, 4K:5BB.

It's worth wondering if Miley has cost himself a spot on the postseason roster. He would normally get one more start, likely at Anaheim next weekend in the closing series. But when you're scuffling as bad as he is - and let's be clear: Miley has not made it into the 2nd Inning in three of his last four starts (and those starts coming against the Mariners, A's, and now Angels) - it is a concern. For me, Saturday night it looked like he gave up that leadoff homer to .731 OPS-having ass David Fletcher - who had not hit a home run since June 15 - and thought, "Here we go again," and here we, in fact, did go again. Miley is basically Jose Urquidy's opener. Mentally he's beaten right now.

I'm not doing my part, I'm not getting the job done, and I'm not giving us a chance. It's tough to swallow, but at the same time, I've been through this, and I've got to keep working and try to get through it.

Side note: No, Wade Miley has not "been through this." He has made 243 starts in his career. Eleven of them have been shorter than 2IP, six of them shorter than 1IP, but never three out of four starts.

We're going to figure it out and he's going to be really effective for us. But given the time, it's a difficult time to assess because he's got one start left before we've got to make some decisions, but we'd obviously like to get him in a better frame of mind.

Miley, on the urgency of his last start of the regular season:
Pretty high, I would say. I got to gain some trust back. I got to go out and prove I can get outs in the Big Leagues and prove I can give this team a chance to win. 

Chandler Rome: The Astros have a full-fledged 4th Starter problem. Miley threw 27 pitches last night. The Angels swung and missed on exactly zero of them. Martin Maldonado:
Me and Chirinos were talking at the end of the game and we just have to try to find out how we can get him back to what you saw earlier in the year. I think tomorrow we're going to watch a lot of video to see, as catchers, what we have to do to get him back.

*Bryan Abreu struck out the side in the 5th before getting touched up in the 6th. Last week Chandler Rome talked up Abreu's chances of making the postseason roster.

*Hector Rondon gave up a back-breaking 2-run home run to Kolk Kalkouk. It was the 10th home run Rondon has allowed (which feels low by about 50) and the second appearance in a row in which Rondon has given up a homer.

*Yordan hit his 27th home run of the season. He was called up on June 9 - the 67th game of the season.

*Kyle Tucker was 2x4 with two doubles.

Kyle Tucker, 2018: 72 PAs, three extra-base hits. .141/.246/.203.
Kyle Tucker, 2019: 50 PAs, seven extra-base hits. .313/.340/.542.

*Carlos Correa came out of the game after the 6th Inning, and everyone went crazy with their "Massage!" tweets or Daniela pics. But A.J. Hinch told us last Saturday this is what he was going to do these last games of the season. Hinch, literally last Saturday:
It will be borderline like a Spring Training schedule with in-season responsibilities. He may play six innings and come out, even if it's not a blowout.

*Don't be an idiot.

*Down 6-4 with Stubbs on first and two out in the 7th, Garrett Stubbs got thrown out at third base on an Altuve infield single that Stubbs thought went into the outfield. "Inexcusable," he said.

*Join our Patreon.

*Forrest Whitley threw 4.2IP last night, allowing a hit and striking out six.

*B.J. Surhoff was fired by Mike Elias and the Orioles, and is extremely upset with how Elias "treats people," which sounds like a familiar complaint.

*Saturday marked the final Cubs home game to be aired on WGN. The 7th Inning Stretch was pretty cool.

*Check The Hardball Times' Alexandra Simon with a retro review of 1996's "The Fan" with Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes.

*Chaos at the Black Keys' LA show!

*A Musical Selection: One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

The Astros enjoyed a 5-run 1st inning and rode it out to a 6-4 win over the Fightin' Ausmuses. Houston is 101-53, and 59-20 at home. One win today or tomorrow gives the Astros 60 wins at Minute Maid Park in 2019. That's why home field is important. Houston has won six in a row, is 13-4 in September, and 44-20 since the All-Star Break.

*Scoreboard watching:

The Astros could have clinched the division last night with a Flower Mound win over Oakland, but they couldn't even get that right.The next Astros win or Oakland loss clinches the Astros' 3rd straight division title. Altuve:
We can feel it. We're excited. We are all anxious about things right now which is normal because we want to make it happen.

I can't compliment our team enough on the mindset we had. I know a lot of people think certain parts of the season were foregone conclusions and the talent on this team is supposed to produce these wins, but it's not easy. We don't read our own press clippings. We don't really care where people rank us or where people think we are. We show up to win.

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees, the Dodgers beat the Rockies.

Houston (101-53): -
New York (100-55): -1.5
Los Angeles (99-55): -2.0

It's essentially a 2.5-game lead over the Yankees for home-field advantage seeing as how the Astros have the tie-breaker.

*Zack Greinke: 5IP, 7H/4ER, 4K:0BB, one solo home run allowed.

Grienke's top of the 4th: Pujols single, Calhoun single, Simmons double, Walsh single, Smith single, Thaiss GIDP, Hermosillo strikeout. Four runs scored on 16 pitches. It's Greinke's third start as an Astro with at least 4ER. Hinch:
Greinke was not that sharp. He got nickeled and dimed a little bit with some seeing-eye singles. They pieced together some good at-bats, one after another. I haven't seen him give up like four or five or six hits in a row. The execution, doesn't mean it was bad. Just means they put up some pretty good swings. Getting out of it was most impressive because it was a big part of the game where I was going to have to go get him.

Greinke hasn't walked a batter in four starts (23IP), the longest walk-less streak of his career. His 2019 WHIP is 1.008. Provided Gerrit Cole doesn't shoot from 0.908 to 1.00, Jayson Stark notes that the Astros could be the first MLB team since the 1884 St. Louis Maroons with three SPs with a sub-1.00 WHIP.

*The bullpen of James, Pressly (in his triumphant return from knee surgery), Harris, and Osuna: 4IP, 1H/0ER, 7K:1BB. Hinch, on Pressly:
It's huge. To make the All-Star team as a reliever, it's really hard. You're up against a lot of things that usually don't work out for high-end relievers, and he made the All-Star team for a reason. Huge weapon for us. He's going to pitch incredibly important innings for us down the stretch and also into October.

On Peacock, who threw a healthy bullpen Thursday:
He is as happy and as comfortable as he's been in a long time. A lot of these guys will tell you that. I actually see it in his body language and in his demeanor and in his stuff. All of our information is that he's doing quite well.

*Yuli Gurriel was scratched with a stomach illness. Probably bowels was loose.

*Jose Altuve hit his 30th home run of 2019, giving the Astros four players with 30+ home runs. With four more home runs, Yordan could be the 5th. Jose Altuve is the first Astros 2B to hit 30 homers. Altuve:
I always wanted to hit 30 homers. I always said it before. A lot of people didn't think I could play in the big leagues. They kept telling me: 'No, no,' and then all of a sudden I hit 30 homers, so that's pretty good.

*In his 2nd game back, Carlos Correa hit two home runs for the 9th time in his career. Correa is hitting .277/.355/.568 in 2019. Correa:
I feel great. It felt great to get the rhythm, timing and today was a positive day. Obviously it gives you a lot of confidence. I spent like three hours in the mirror yesterday fixing my mechanics. It paid off.

*Josh Reddick on August 20: .260/.302/.377.
Josh Reddick since August 20: .347/.400/.556.

*Aledmys Diaz was 3x4. It's his 2nd 3-hit game of the season, and Diaz has an .818 OPS in 2019.

*Mike Lupica: How the Astros became the model for MLB success.

*The Athletic's Mark Simon notes how Bregman's offensive totals are lower than they should be because he's been the victim of some great defense.

*Joe Posnanski: No team has ever had a pitching pair like Verlander and Cole. Posnanski:
No team has ever had identical twins quite like Cole and Verlander at the top of their rotation. The fascinating question will be: What will this mean come playoff time? On the one hand, the Astros basically go into the postseason with not one but two Tom Seavers and that seems like a pretty good recipe for winning a World Series.

*For the first time, Pat & I are going to make a serious attempt to monetize, and you can help support both Astros County & Lima Time Time with our Patreon! So I'm going to take a minute to talk about the levels, and what you get:

-Kyle Tucker ($5/month): Access to every episode of Lima Time Time 24 hours in advance of it being on iTunes.

-Yordan Alvarez ($10/month): The above, plus a weekly bonus show, plus a postgame show after every playoff game. Plus Hot Links from me on days that Flick takes them here (Monday-Wednesday).

-Alex Bregman ($20/month): All of the above, plus free tickets to Lima Time Time Live Shows!

-Justin Verlander ($75/mongh): All of the above, and we will record a Live Lima Time podcast at your house. For real.

*The Red Sox were eliminated last night and you just hate to see it. Also: Boston paid Rusney Castillo so much money that he can't play for the Red Sox.

*A's reliever Lou Trivino has oblique and ribs soreness after he fell in the shower.

*How to help victims of Tropical Storm Imelda.

*Soccer at the edge of the world.

*A Musical Selection:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

The Astros were off yesterday. There is one more off day (Monday) during the regular season, which ends in ten days. Houston is 100-53. Prayers up for those of you affected by Imelda.

*The Yankees beat the Angels to clinch their first division title since 2012. Can't relate. The A's and Dodgers were off, so..

Houston (100-53): -
New York (100-54): -0.5
Los Angeles (98-55): -2.0

Houston plays Anaheim starting tonight, meaning that Anaheim could get to watch their two opponents this week clinch their respective divisions against them in back-to-back series.

*Milestones to look for over the next ten days:

-Jose Altuve's next home run will be his 30th, giving the Astros four batters with 30+ home runs.
-Alex Bregman's next walk will give him 111 and taking sole possession of 6th place on the franchise single-season walk total.
-Justin Verlander is 17 strikeouts away from 300, 11 strikeouts away from 3,000, and eight strikeouts away from a season-high.
-Justin Verlander is after a Major-League record, as well. Among SPs who threw 180+ IP, Justin Verlander's 0.79 WHIP ranks third all-time, a tick behind Walter Johnson's 0.78 in 1913, and 1999 Pedro Martinez's 0.74.
-Gerrit Cole is trying to maintain his place at the top of the all-time MLB leaderboard in K/9 (among SPs with more than 180IP), at 13.57, which is better than 2000 Randy Johnson's 13.41 and 1999 Pedro's 13.20. He's also 12 strikeouts away from setting the Astros' single-season strikeout mark.
-The Astros have struck out 1104 times, lowest in MLB, and have struck out 1570 batters, highest in MLB. They're trying to become the first team in MLB history to lead the majors in both categories.

In the other MLB races, the Indians and Rays are tied for the 2nd AL Wild Card spot while the Cubs and Brewers are a game apart for the 2nd NL Wild Card spot.

*Jake Kaplan: The Astros' three most important storylines of the next ten days.

*FanGraphs has your 2019 AL Cy Young Voting Guide.

*Chandler Rome has a mailbag in which he discusses Alex Bregman's MVP chances, a George Springer extension, Aaron Sanchez's shoulder surgery, Francis Martes, and who should start Game 1.

*Richard Justice ranks the 12 best trade deadline deals.

*Hunter Atkins: How Abraham Toro made it from Venezuela to Canada to Oklahoma to Houston.

Related: MLB Pipeline has ranked Abraham Toro and Cristian Javier as the Astros' prospects of the year.

*The Yankees have put starter Domingo German on administrative leave for a minimum of seven days due to domestic violence allegations. Jeff Passan:
Manager Aaron Boone recently said he expected German to be a big part of the team's postseason plans, but Boone said Thursday the team needs to prepare for the postseason like German won't be available.

German is 18-4 this season with a 4.03 ERA / 1.15 WHIP, 153K:39BB in 143IP. The Athletic's Lindsey Adler: What we know so far about German's suspension.

*Kerry Crowley: Inside the Green Monster with Bruce Bochy, one of baseball's biggest fans.

*Dusting off my dude Adam Sternbergh's column, in honor of Friends' 25th anniversary: Is Friends still the most popular show on TV?

*I Believe I Can Fry: How a mild-mannered database analyst became the undisputed king of the fair park fryers.

*A Musical Selection from Trevor, who turned me on to this song. By now you should have an idea of the type of music I like, so feel free to send recommendations my way. Thanks, Trevor.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday Morning Hot Linnks

The Astros beat the West Shreveport Rangers 3-2 thanks to home runs and Gerrit Cole. That's five wins in a row as the Astros get the day off to prepare for the last regular season home games of the year. Houston is 100-53. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Astros for the fourth time in the last five years, and the Astros are up eight games on Oakland with nine to play.

Scoreboard Watching: The A's beat Kansas City 1-0 in 11 innings, the Angels beat the Yankees, the Rays beat the Dodgers.

Houston (100-54): -
New York (99-55): -1
Los Angeles (98-55): -2

*The Astros won their 100th game of the season for the third straight year, eight years after beginning a stretch of three straight 100-loss seasons. Other teams to win 100+ games in three consecutive years (with win total in parentheses):

2017-2019 Astros (304)
2002-2004 Yankees (305)
1997-1999 Braves (310)
1969-1971 Orioles (318)
1942-1944 Cardinals (316)
1929-1931 Athletics (313)

If you like winning, 100 three years in a row is a lot. I love it for this team and for this organization. It's a big accomplishment. It's one step along the way for us and what we're trying to accomplish this season. I don't want that to be the high note by any means.

It's a little crazy. My first three years we lost 100 games, and now we're one of the few teams that are winning [100 games three seasons in a row]. I think we deserve it, because the way that we've been working hard as a team and as an organization, to be to this point is pretty cool. Today was a great day because Gerrit has his 300th strikeout and we get 100 wins. It's pretty special for us.

*Houston went 9-0 at Minute Maid Park against North Waxahachie.

*A.J. Hinch got his 475th win as Astros manager, and is just 69 regular season wins behind franchise leader Bill Virdon.

*Gerrit Cole threw 8IP, 6H/2ER, 10K:1BB. The ten strikeouts pushed him to 302 for the season in 198.2IP, the first Astros pitcher to strike out 300+ batters in a season since Mike Scott in 1986. It's the 2nd-fewest IPs needed to hit 300Ks. Astros' single-season strikeout leaders:

1. J.R. Richard (1979): 313
2. Mike Scott (1986): 306
3. J.R. Richard (1978): 303
4. Gerrit Cole (2019): 302

Cole, on the moment he got 300 (Shin-Soo Choo to end the 6th):
At first, I didn't know that was the one. Then, it became pretty obvious, and I just wanted to spend a minute with the fans and thank them for the ovation and all the support.

The only other pitchers with 19 double-digit strikeout games in a season: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Sandy Koufax.

Cole will likely get two more starts: Tuesday at Seattle, and September 29 at Anaheim. He needs 12 strikeouts total to set the franchise record.

*Yuli Gurriel's 2-run go-ahead homer made him the 4th Astro in 2019 with 30 home runs. Yordan is next up, at 26. Gurriel is the 4th player in MLB in 2019 to hit 40 doubles and 30 home runs, and is just the 6th player in Astros history to do it: Gurriel (2019), Alex Bregman (2018), Carlos Lee (2007), Lance Berkman (2001, 2004), Jeff Bagwell (1996, 1997, 2001), Richard Hidalgo (2000).

*McTaggart: The Astros are in the what?

*Brian T. Smith: 100 is the Astros' new magic number.

*In McTaggart's notebook we find that Ryan Pressly will be activated this weekend. Also, you'll note that Hinch has had a quicker hook with Verlander and Greinke lately. Hinch:
We've individualized it and the guys understand the reason we're doing it is for them to be at their peak performance when the postseason starts, and they're all on board.

Also, Aaron Sanchez's recovery from shoulder surgery will likely carry into the start of 2020, and he may be non-tendered. There's still no word on why he had surgery, but a 6-7 month recovery time indicates that he probably just had to have a new shoulder. Or bowels is loose.

*Astros' hitting slash line: .276/.353/.494.
Astros' hitting w/RISP: .270/.353/.502.

*Mike Lupica: The AL Cy Young race is a two-teammate field.

*Albert Pujols' career batting average has dropped below .300 for the first time since his first week in the Majors. You hate to see it.

*Rugby: The sport that can't stick to sports.

*The best obituary ever, and the wacky funeral that followed.

*A Musical Selection:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

The Astros won again, and are one win away from hitting 100 for the third year in a row. That'll do.

Justin Verlander finally got some OK run support in the 4-1 win over Texas, thanks to three big home runs. JV is now one win away from hitting 20. Oh, and this happened.

Other notes from tonight:

Correa may have gone 0-4 in his return, but he "feels healthy"

Alex Bregman talked about wanting wins more than any personal accolades:

  • "The reason we all live to play the game of baseball is to win...We don't show up to Spring Training to try to put up numbers, we show up to try and win a World Series."

Verlander claimed "Correa has one of the best arms he's ever seen"

The injury updates for, Pressly, Peacock, and McHugh have released as October approaches. 2/3 isn't bad.

Gerrit Cole is making the Astros look scary good for the postseason.

So what's the roster going to look like in three weeks?

Is the Astros farm system *really* in that big of danger?

CBSSports posted what managers will and won't be doing in the 2019 postseason.

Who should the Astros want to matchup with in the 1st round of the playoffs?

Abraham Toro and Cristian Javier were named the Astros minor league players of the year.

Cavan Biggio hit for the cycle last night, and he's in very few company.

Also last night, Yu Darvish set a Cubs record for most consecutive strikeouts, had 11 K's in 4 innings, and got the loss.

Somebody has stolen a golden toilet from Winston Churchill's boyhood home.