Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G22: Astros @ Mariners

Jarred Cosart (1-2, 7.36) vrs Chris Young (0-0, 3.27)

Both Mr Cosart and Mr Young were coming off short outings in their last starts - 1/3 of an inning and 3 innings respectively.  And because it was the Game of the Day, I watched it!!  Well, the first three innings, anyhow - then this whole "employment" thing got in the way.  Sigh.  And stop me if you have heard this before... the Astros were cruising until they turned it over to the bullpen, but the Enemy came back late for a 5-3 walk-off win.  Double-sigh.

On the Mound

* Jarred Cosart, he of the "of course I am going to regress" tweets (along with other, less savoury ones) was the victim of some regression-for-the-better.  Yes, everyone, he is not a regular 1/3rd of an inning, 7 ER kind of pitcher.  In fact, today he was quite good!!  6 2/3, 4H, 2R (both earned), 4K, 3BB.  73 of 104 pitches for strikes.  2 run home run on an elevated 94mph fastball thrown on a 3-2 count to Kyle Seager (Kyle Seager, remember that name...)  Looking at Castro's glove movement, he missed up and in the middle of the plate, and Seager knocked the ball to RF, about 3 or 4 rows back.

Through three innings, Cosart's fastball was generally located down, with excellent cutting action.  He was pumping easy gas in the mid-90's.  Lots and lots of fastballs is what I saw.  Twenty-one swinging strikes versus 63 balls put-in-play for a very pleasant looking ratio of 1 swing-and-miss for every 2-swings-with-contact.  Eight ground balls versus 8 fly balls.  Generally, excellent start!

* Finishing the 7th was our old friend, Raul "Exxon" Valdes (yes, I know "Valdes" is not spelt right). Two pitches, one ground-ball.

* Chad Qualls threw a 14 pitch 8th inning, with 2K's, both swinging.  But because he has been voted off the "closer committee", Bo turned to....

* Josh Fields for the 9th.  And... less good.  One-third of an inning, 3ER on a single-single-strike out- home run.  And who hit the home run??  Kyle Seager!!  He of the .156/.280/.219 batting line (as of last night).  Kyle Seager, whose generous dropped Zunino throw let us score 4 unearned on The King 2 nights prior.  Well, Kyle giveth and Kyle taketh away, and today he took away in a very rude and upsetting fashion.  He sold out for a first-pitch fastball, got a 95mph low one in the LHB's wheelhouse (missed in, Castro set up on the outside), and that will be the ballgame.

I do want to highlight some cryptic remarks made by a seemingly increasingly grumpy Bo Porter afterward.  Of course, we all remember his 18 second reply on the Dominguez TOOTBLAN, ably covered at AC by the talented Mr Y.  After the game, the following passages were recorded on

It was only a day earlier Porter explained to reporters how he had wanted to Fields to get himself better prepared to enter games by pretending to face hitters while warning up in the bullpen and again throwing his warm-up pitches on the mound prior to his outings.

Porter was asked if he thought Fields was ready.

"I don't know how you could not be ready," he said. "He had a whole half an inning. As soon as the last out in the eighth inning was made, the phone call was made and Fields got the ninth."

Without context, this is a little difficult to interpret.  I recall something similar being written a few days prior, and this may have been a response to a query about what was said back at the previous pressor.  Or, Josh Fields still ain't ready when he comes in to pitch.  Interesting... bears watching.

But Bo seems to be calling out the players a lot more this year...

At the Plate

* I know it is going to be easy to hang this one on Josh Fields, but this was also a day of missed opportunities for the offence.  Chris Young was throwing in the mid... 80's, a full 10mph slower than Mr Cosart.  And whilst velocity isn't everything, and whilst acknowledging that a 6'10" Chris Young is going to have a slightly different release point than other non-Randy-Johnson-Jon-Rauch-pitchers, the Astros did waste some opportunities.  In the first, Fowler walked, and promptly got caught stealing on the next pitch.  Marc Krauss walked in the 2nd, advanced to 2nd on a balk, then was stranded by 2K's.  Leadoff walk in the 3rd, followed by K, FO, walk, 2-out 2 run-Castro double, walk, FO.  1 out walk in the 4th.  Retired in order in the fifth and sixth.  HR, pop-up, ground-rule double, GO with runner advancing, FO in the 7th.  2 quick outs, then a walk and a single in the 8th, but both runners stranded on a K looking.  Single, bunt, GO, walk, K looking in the ninth.

That all adds up to the last out with RISP in the 3rd inning, as well as in each of the last three innings.  One 2-out hit could well have changed the contest.

* Fowler 1-3, 2BB; Castro 1-5, 2B, 2RBI; Carter 1-3, BB, HR, RBI; Dominguez 1-3, BB and Villar 1-3, 2B were the best offensive performers...

* ... But they were more than adequately counter-balanced by Springer (0-3, BB), Krauss (0-2, BB) and Presley (1-4, 2K), forming a large black hole of suck at 4, 5, 6 (respectively) in the order.

* As a team, 1-8 RISP, 9 LOBbies, 1 CS.

* But what a day to suck.  Pine tar at a Yanks-Sawx game!  Nothing else matters!!

Turning Point

This is pretty easy.  The Astros were tied or ahead for 26 out of 27 innings this series.  The turning point was right at the end.  Kyle Seager, prior to this game, had not homered in 43 games.  Sigh.

Goat of the Game

Um, me.  Yesterday, I wrote:

"Josh Fields earned his second save in as many nights by striking out Robinson Cano on a full count, and retiring Corey Hart on a line drive to centre, and Kyle Seager on a soft grounder.  He now sports an ERA of 2.00, FIP of 1.93"

Clearly, I am handing out too many plaudits.  I apologise.  Update!!

He now sports an ERA of 2.00 4.82, FIP of 1.93 3.13

That's better!

Tomorrow, the Astros take their particular brand of offensive awesome back to MMP for a series against the A's.  Control lefties, Kazmir and Oberholtzer at 8ET Game 1 (Thurs), not Cy Young contender Jesse Chavez v Brad Peacock at 8ET Game 2 (Fri), Dan Straily and Dallas Keuchal 7ET Game 3 (Saturday).  Sheesh, I can't see this going wrong....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jury deliberating Backe case

A jury is in its second day of deliberations in the Brandon Backe's lawsuit against Galveston police.

We took a look at the whole incident earlier this month, if you want to catch up. Or you can read a comment from "whyrepublicans" at the bottom that says:
His career ended because he was a poor picture and was already injured when he got into this altercation. If he was truly concerned about his career he should of walked away from the altercation. I wish I was on that jury.

Or you can read a comment from "CrazyCajun"
He was washed up as a pitcher to begin with and is using that beating to get money, money, money. Just remember dummy, whenever you go to court you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
Backe is seeking $15m in damages

We should maybe pay attention to Gonzalo Sanudo right now


Gonzalo Sanudo.

Sanudo came to the organization in March of last year from the Twins in what was, at the time, an exchange of low-level, non-descript minor leaguers. The Astros gave up Mike Kvasnicka, a very disappointing former 1st round pick who seemably couldn't hit at the low-A level.

So why pay attention?

Because over his last 40 regular-season innings, dating back to July 13, 2013. Sanudo has been putting up numbers that would make video game numbers look like Lucas Harrell.


Games:        25
Innings:        40
Hits:            14
Walks:          3
Strikeouts:   51
OppAvg:  .104
K/BB:      16.3
Runs:    0

Catch that? Sanudo has a streak going of 40 scoreless innings!

Now, before everyone starts petitioning to call him up to Houston, I should note that at this point he's pitching for Quad Cities. If I had a dollar for every relief pitcher in A-ball I've gotten excited about over the last five seasons, I'd be able to move from the dollar menu to a value meal at McDonalds. But that doesn't change the fact that this kid in having an amazing run right now, and we should enjoy watching how this plays out.

Admiring Collin McHugh

Collin McHugh pitched a masterpiece last night. Collin McHugh is 27 years old, and moved his career record to 1-8, lowering his career ERA to 7.83 in the process. Astros fans would be foolish to expect this kind of performance going forward, but that does not mean we can't enjoy his night for what it was.

McHugh's final line last was 6.2 IP, 12 K, 0 BB, 0 Runs. He gave up only 3 hits. He had a swinging strike percentage of 18%, which is currently the highest among starting pitchers in the majors, a hair ahead of Kershaw in his 6.2 innings this season.

Here is a complete list of all pitchers who have thrown 7 or fewer innings with 12 or more strikeouts, 0 walks and 0 runs.

Mike Mussina, 
Yu Darvish, 
Brad Penny, 
Scott Kazmir, 
Tim Lincecum, 
Javier Vazquez, 
Matt Perisho, 
Nolan Ryan
Collin McHugh

That's an impressive group, with a Hall of Famer, a should be Hall of Famer, and several high peak flame throwers. Also Matt Perisho, who was mostly a reliever in his undistinguished career, but on one night in 1999 mowed down the Anaheim Angels to the tune 6 IP and 12 K.

If McHugh even approaches the career of any of the others on that list, that will be the waiver wire pickup of the ages. Likely, McHugh is more Perisho than the others. That doesn't change the fact that he had a pitching night to remember last night.

PreStros Morning Report: April 22

Late start this morning, seeing as how that's two after-midnight games in a row (and my daughter woke up about ten minutes after last night's game ended). So let's get this on:


*Astros affiliates go 4-0 on the day; Composite record: 44-31.
*OKC defeated Memphis behind David Martinez's strong start and Jon Singleton's 8th homer.
*Corpus' bullpen held Midland scoreless for 8.2IP, winning on a 12th inning walk-off by Nolan Fontana. 
*Josh Hader struck out seven in 5IP as Lancaster cruised to a 5-1 win at Inland Empire.
*Thomas Lindauer hit two homers (5RBI) in an 11-2 Quad Cities win over Clinton.

Oklahoma City (12-8)

OKC had a 8-1 lead before Memphis got two back in the bottom of the 8th and then, well, that's pretty much it. OKC wins at Memphis, 8-3. David Martinez threw 5IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:1BB with ten groudball outs (four flyball outs). Bobby Doran allowed 4H/2ER, 0K:1BB in 3IP, and Rhiner Cruz struck out the side in the 9th.

Robbie Grossman was 2x2 with 3BB while Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with his first homer of the season. Jon Singleton hit his 8th homer of the young season and added a sac fly RBI. His eight homers lead the Pacific Coast League (2nd in all of Triple-A, behind J.D. Martinez) and 25 RBI lead all of Triple-A baseball. Ronny Torreyes was 1x4 with an RBI, and Enrique Hernandez continued his tear at OKC with a double and 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Robbie Grossman

Corpus (11-7)

Corpus found themselves down 5-0 in the middle of the 2nd before tying the game up with four in the bottom half and one in the 4th. In extra innings Nolan Fontana knocked in Jio Mier with two outs in the bottom of the 12th for a 6-5 win over Midland. Aaron West gave up 6H/5ER, 2K:2BB in 3.1IP; then Alex Sogard (2.2IP), Jordan Jankowski (2IP - 1H, 3K), Travis Ballew (2IP - 2H) and Andrew Robinson (2IP 3K:2BB) held Midland scoreless over the next 8.2IP.

Nolan Fontana's walk-off capped a 4x7 day; Andrew Aplin (RBI), Matt Duffy (2B) and Jio Mier had two hits each. Chris Epps hit a 2nd inning grand slam and then added three walks to his day.

Man of the Match: Nolan Fontana

Lancaster (13-6)

Lancaster jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and cruised to a 5-1 win at Inland Empire. Josh Hader threw 5IP, 2H/1ER, 7K:1BB; Chris Devenski threw 3IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB and Jamaine Cotton struck out two in the 9th.

Tony Kemp, Caralos Correa (2B), and Rio Ruiz all had two hits each; Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer; Danry Vasquez was 1x4 with an RBI and a walk.

Man of the Match: Josh Hader

Quad Cities (8-10)

Quad Cities was all over Clinton, up 7-0 before Clinton got a run, and ultimately winning 11-2. Adrian Houser threw 4IP, 4H/2ER, 3K:4BB; Pat Christensen allowed a hit in one scoreless inning; Gonzalo Sanudo threw 3IP, allowing 2H/0ER, 3K:0BB and Andrew Walter closed out the game. Sanudo has faced 50 batters this season. None of them have scored.

Thomas Lindauer was 3x4 with two homers and 5RBI; Tanner Mathis (BB), Chase McDonald (2 2B, 2RBI), and Alex Gonzalez (2 2B, 3RBI) all had two hits each. Brett Phillips was 1x4 with a triple and a walk; Jobduan Morales was 1x4 with a double and a walk.

Man of the Match: Thomas Lindauer

*Note: Clinton's RF is named Burt Reynolds

From the Office of the County Clerk - G21: Astros @ Mariners

Collin McHugh (0-0, 0.00; Career: 0-8, 5.86) v Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 7.50)

Boom Boom!!  The Astros dip into their lucky-pitcher-grab-bag and draw a winner.  Collin McHugh, blogger extraordinaire deservedly gets his first major-league win by throwing 6 2/3 scoreless.  Second 2-game win streak of the year!  To the recap!!

On the Mound

* Collin McHugh is the story of the night, with an equally efficient and nasty performance.  In 89 pitches, he managed 6 2/3 innings, with an impressive 12 strikeouts, no walks and 3 hits.  Mr McHugh is the new game-score season-record holder (80), threw 61 strikes, and kept the ball on the ground 50% of the time.  He was helped by Alex Presley twice in the 2nd, who gunned down a gimpy Corey Hart at second for the first out, and then ran down a fly ball into the left field corner for the third out.  He was also helped by Jason Castro in the 5th, with a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to end the inning.

But the story was really the strikeouts.  Nasty, nasty strikeouts.  From Gameday, he was hitting both sides of the plate, and hitting the strike zone down with both breaking balls (slider to RHB, curve to LHB).

He started by striking out the side in the first: 88mph cutter to Almonte, swinging; 92mph 4 seamer to Ackley, looking; 93mph 2-seamer to Cano, up and away, swinging.  He also struck out the side in the third: 86mph cutter to Saunders, swinging; 93mph 4 seamer to Zunino, swinging; 93mph 2 seamer on Miller, swinging.  More nasty on Ackley in the 4th - foul tip on an 87mph cutter, then Seager on a 73mph curve to end the fourth.  In the fifth, Zunino on a well-placed 84mph slider, with Castro also making a great play to throw a strike to 2nd.  First strikeout looking in the 6th (Almonte, looking at an 86mph cutter), and poor Ackley again (6K's in the series so far) swinging on a 74mph curve to end the 6th.    His last strikeout was on the 240-million-dollar-man, Robinson Cano, on a 73mph curve, chasing down and away.

* Raul Valdes came in with two outs in the 7th, and may have been thinking that Collin McHugh's fingernails were a little too long.  He promptly walked Kyle Seagar, then gave up a long home run to LF over the visitors bullpen to Justin Smoak.  That reduced the lead to two, and put the Mariners back in the game.  Put some tension back into the contest as well, likely making Collin a little nervous.

* But Anthony Bass came in, ended the 7th on one pitch, then worked around a one-out double in a scoreless eighth.  Quietly having a nice season - now sporting a 2.45 ERA and 3.04 FIP.

* Josh Fields earned his second save in as many nights by striking out Robinson Cano on a full count, and retiring Corey Hart on a line drive to centre, and Kyle Seager on a soft grounder.  He now sports an ERA of 2.00, FIP of 1.93

* Astros right-handed pitchers combined for 14 K's, adding to the 14 from last night.  Astros left-handed pitchers: walked one.

At the Plate

* Most of the damage happened early.  Jose Altuve flew out on the first pitch, Dexter Fowler walked on a full count, then Jason Castro drilled an 0-2 elevated fastball the opposite way, just over the LF wall, for a two run homer (his fourth).  Fowler ended the night 1-4, BB, 1R, 2 LOBsters, whereas Castro went 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI.

* Next inning, Chris Carter banged a hanging slider down the left field line into the upper deck for an 0-2 one out home run.  He finished 2-4, 2 RBI, K, after also being the architect of a bases loaded, one-out single to CF in the 8th.

(Credit to Erasmo Ramirez at this point.  He managed 6 innings total, managing to sort out his early issues with a flat-breaking ball.  He saved a pretty exhausted 'pen for the Mariners.  Kudos.)

* Matt Dominguez was back at 3rd base, and hit home run to right CF (his fourth) that kept cutting away from Abraham Almonte in the 7th.  He finished 1-4, HR but 4 LOB.  Still, trending in the right direction.

* Alex Presley, 2-4, had a nice night offensively and defensively (with the abovementioned outfield assist and running warning-track grab).

* Altuve 0-4, BB; Springer 0-4, BB, 3K; Krauss 0-3, 3K... 'nuff said.

Turning Point

Erasmo Ramirez's inability to bury an 0-2 slider to Chris Carter (does he not know about his more mild-mannered alter-ego, Kris Karter??) led to a lead the Astros would never relinquish.  This resulted in one of those impressive HR swings that Carter seems to bust out 50-odd times per season (I imagine that some of them go foul).  He barely looks like he is swinging, yet the ball fangs off his bat like it was launched from a cannon.  Then Carter nonchalantly waltzes around the bases with a kind of relaxed, neutral expression on his face.  We saw it a bit in 2013.  Only seen it once in 2014 - very seductive power.

Carter's HR landed up where Zunino's long strike landed last night, which got some recognition in the blogosphere for it's distance.  To wit:

"Zunino just absolutely destroyed a ball that went foul that may have been fair that was challenged and found to be foul after all, possibly. Most watching said it was probably the farthest hit ball to that part of Safeco they had seen."

Well, Carter just hit one there as well.  And it looked easy.

Man of the Match

Twelve filthy K's (presented above in detail), first ML win, subbing in at short notice for an injured ace... Collin McHugh busted out a great, slightly unexpected performance.  Plaudits.

Goat of the Game.

The RHP's were great.  Not so much the LHP.  Would have been nice to (i) issue no walks as a team and (ii) shut the evil Mariners out.  Raul Valdes has had a rough start to the 2014 ML season.

Please note for those of you out of the blackout zone tomorrow and with a decent inter-web connection, Astros (& brooms) v Mariners, 3:40 ET, Game of the Day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Preview of G21: Astros @ Mariners

The Astros will ride a W1 into a game for the first time since April 13 to face the 7-12 Mariners. The Astros won 7-2 last night, which not only tied a season-high in runs scored but also set a season-high in margin of victory. The Mariners allowed 7+ runs for the fourth time in their last five games. The Astros have won four straight games at Safeco Field. The last time the Astros won four straight road games against a single opponent was May 31-June 3, 2013 when they swept a four-game series at Anaheim. Since the beginning of 2013, the Astros are 27-64 on the road. Seven of those wins have been at Seattle.

Taking the mound for the Mariners tonight is the wonderfully named Erasmo Ramirez. It may surprise you to know that there have been two Erasmo Ramirezes to play in MLB - both were pitchers. The first Erasmo Ramirez pitched for the Rangers, A's, and Marlins between 2003-2007. The one starting tonight will be 24 next month, is 5'11" 180lbs, and throws the ball with his right hand/elbow/arm.

In four starts for the Mariners in 2014, he is 1-2 with a 7.50 ERA/1.78 WHIP, with a 6.10 FIP. His four outings:

April 1 at LAA: 7IP, 6H/2ER, 6K:0BB
April 6 at OAK: 4IP, 7H/5ER, 1K:3BB
April 12 v OAK: 5IP, 5H/3ER, 3K:3BB
April 17 @ TEX: 2IP, 6H/5ER, 2K:2BB

So in his last three outings, Ramirez has averaged just under a 32 Game Score with 18H/13ER, 6K:8BB in 11IP. Ramirez has faced the Astros only once - on August 29, 2013 - and got the win (of course), allowing 5H/2ER, 7K:2BB in 5.2IP.

Splits of Interest:
Total: .324/.393/.554 - 30 of 84 batters faced have reached base.
Vs. LHP: .340/.407/.574, 10K:6BB (54 PAs)
Vs. RHP: .296/.367/.519, 2K:2BB (30 PAs)

The Astros selected tonight's starter Collin McHugh off waivers from the Rockies back on December 18, 2013. McHugh has thrown in four games (14IP), allowing 12H/7ER, 8K:5BB, for Oklahoma City. In his last three outings (11IP) he has allowed 10H/4ER, 6K:2BB, with 63% of his pitches going for strikes - with 24% of his pitches resulting in non-contact strikes (23 swinging, 27 looking).

This will be the 10th Major League start of his career (16th appearance). He is currently 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA/1.80 WHIP, with a 5.86 FIP with the Mets and Rockies. In 47.1IP at the Major League level, he has allowed 72H/47ER, with 28K:13BB. So the fun part is that he has the chance to record his first career ML win.

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Here's what you need to know while we try not to doze off at work from staying up until midnight last night celebrating (quietly) the win over Seattle.

*Jim Crane would like a resolution to CSN Houston within 30 days.

*Jimmy Traina interviewed new celebrity Delino DeShields about getting hit in the face last weekend. DeShields: "I do have a good sense of humor about it because it could be a lot worse and I'm not dead."

Also, DeShields is a bawse:
I have a football mindset. I'm gonna get in the box and it's still gonna be a battle between me and whoever is throwing and you're still trying to win. If anything, I'll have nerve because I'm excited to play again, but as far as being scared, naw, that's not me. If I get hit in the face again, so be it. I signed up, I'm committed to play this sport, there's nothing in the contract or rules that say you aren't gonna get hit in the face or be injured or anything like that, and I know that so I'm just gonna go and continue and do what I love to do. Nothing will change.

*The Crawfish Boxes says not to panic about the offensive woes.

*George Springer went to live with Seattle's Brad Miller this offseason because of Connecticut weather.

*Via What The Heck Bobby we find that Japhet Amador has been loaned back to Diablos Rojos.

*Lookout Landing says Mike Zunino's freaking moonshot last night may have been fair after all.

*John Sickels profiled Jon Singleton as his prospect of the day.

*Finally, slide on down and meet the newest writer for Astros County, the Masked Marvel

The One Where Ken Hoffman Spouts Nonsense

The Chronicle's Ken Hoffman has a silly notes column on a wide range of topics - from losing his driver's license to a joke about CNN - he touches briefly on the plight of the Astros and Bo Porter. Let's look...

In their first season under manager Bo Porter, the Astros lost 111 games last year, worst in the majors.


This year, with a bigger payroll...

Relative. It's like going from $2.13/hour + tips to minimum wage.

...and bright young stars on the roster...

Which roster? Lancaster's? The 40-Man? Hoffman understands how this works, right?

...the Astros are 5-14 (not including Monday's late game), on pace to lose 119 games.

"On Pace To" watch! Not including the win over King Felix and Seattle (which ended around midnight Central), after 12.3% of the season, the Astros are ONPACETO lose more games. Summary judgments after 1/8 of a season. Got it. 

That's 1962 Mets territory.


Last weekend, Porter blew his lid because an Oakland batter attempted a bunt while leading 7-0 in the first inning. Porter thought it was bush league. You want bush league? Complaining about a bunt in the first inning is bush league.

Subjective. Writing about unwritten rules is the new market inefficiency.

Last year, Porter had to apologize after making an illegal pitching change. He didn't know a basic baseball rule. Porter is in over his head. Start warming up manager-in-waiting Craig Biggio.

Okay. Now this is ridiculous. So here is the whole of the argument for Craig Biggio replacing Bo Porter: (a) Porter got mad at a player for bunting when the opposing team was up 7-0; (b) one time, last year, Porter screwed up a pitching change; (c) in 2013 Porter didn't do enough with a team that had an active payroll under $20m in 2013; (d) 1/8 of the way through the season - Porter is mismanaging a team whose payroll that is slightly less than the fraudulent Marlins, $30m less than the 28th-highest payroll, and roughly one-fifth of the highest payroll in baseball, that can't hit (before last night) and routinely TOOTBLANs themselves out of innings. That's why Porter should go? You just don't go from being groomed to take over the Nationals to being a blithering idiot in 18 months...not with the rosters he's been dealt in that time. Maybe we hold off on anointing Biggio until those "bright young stars" are actually on the roster and Porter actually has a fair shot to figure out if he's in over his head.

PreStros Morning Report: April 21


*Astros affiliates go 2-2 on the day. Organization Record: 40-31
*Memphis surges late against Zeid and Stoffel for a 7-4 win over OKC.
*Brady Rodgers dealt, and Preston Tucker hit a two-run homer amid a 5-run 3rd inning in Corpus' 5-2 win over Midland.
*Lance McCullers gets nine groundball outs and Lancaster erupts for six runs in the top of the 9th for a 9-4 win at Inland Empire.
*Quad Cities got 15 hits, but fell 7-6 at Clinton.

Oklahoma City (11-8)

OKC had the lead at Memphis twice, but the RedSomethings surged in the 7th and 8th for a 7-4 win over OKC. Nick Tropeano allowed 6H/3ER, 3K:2BB (2HR) in 4IP; Kevin Chapman threw 18 of his 27 pitches for strikes, allowing 1H/0ER, 3K:1BB in 2IP; Josh Zeid gave up 4H/2ER, 0K:1BB and Jason Stoffel allowed 2H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP each.

Ronny Torreyes (BB) and Gregorio Petit (SB) had two htis each. Max Stassi hit his 5th homer of the season and Domingo Santana added an RBI and a walk. Jon Singleton was 0x3 with 1K:1BB.

Man of the Match: Max Stassi

Corpus (10-7)

A five-run 3rd inning was all Corpus needed in a 5-2 win over Midland. Brady Rodgers allowed 5H/1ER, 4K:0BB in 5IP; Colton Cain gave up 4H/1ER, 2K:0BB in 1.1IP; Jorge De Leon allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 1.2IP and Pat Urckfitz recorded his first save of the season with a perfect 9th inning.

Preston Tucker was 1x4 with a two-run homer; Joe Sclafani was 2x4 while Andrew Aplin added an RBI hit and a walk. Chris Epps was 0x2 with an RBI sac fly and a walk.

Man of the Match: Brady Rodgers

Lancaster (12-6)

Lancaster was down 4-3 heading into the top of the 9th at Inland Empire before the following happened: Walk, Triple, Double, Homer, flyout, Triple, Triple, Single, Wild Pitch. Six runs later, Lancaster has a 9-4 win. Lance McCullers got nine groundball outs in 5IP, allowing 7H/3ER, 3K:1BB; Kyle Smith threw 3IP, 1H/1ER, 3K:1BB and Daniel Minor threw a perfect 9th.

Tony Kemp was 3x5 with a single, double, triple, and an RBI; Carlos Correa (BB, RBI), Danry Vasquez (2B, 3B, RBI) and Dan Gulbransen (HR, 3RBI) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Tony Kemp

Quad Cities (7-10)

Despite collecting 15 hits and taking a 6-5 lead into the 8th, Clinton rallied for a 7-6 win over Quad Cities. Evan Grills allowed 4H/3ER, 4K:0BB in 5IP; Michael Feliz gave up 2H/2ER, 0K:2BB in 0.2IP and Zach Morton got the loss with 1H/2ER, 0K:1BB in 2.1IP.

Conrad Gregor (2B) and Brett Phillips (RBI, outfield assist) had three hits each; Tanner Mathis (2B), James Ramsay (3B, BB, SB, RBI), and Thomas Lindauer (2B) had two hits each. Tyler White was 1x2 with 2BB (and two fielding errors). Quad Cities was 3x15 w/RISP.

Man of the Match: James Ramsay

DDJ is Famous, Worldwide

Delino DeShields Jr is famous, even in the Southern Hemisphere.

As an aside (and I have posted a heap of unmitigated crap already today), I used to play cricket, the Australasian analogue of baseball.  I was 16, playing in the top Secondary School competition when I caught a bouncer in the face while I was batting.  The guy that hit me was throwing it down around 135kph (80-85mph) - plenty fast for a 16 year old, and remember that a cricket ball is harder and heavier than a baseball.

Anyhow, I totally lost the ball in the orange roof in the background and it hit me in the mouth, on an ascending trajectory.  My two front teeth got pushed up toward the top of my head, then out, and destroyed the tooth sockets in the process.  I also had another few teeth that later needed root canals, and my orthodontist remarked that I may have had my life saved by my retainer plate because it provided some resistance to the ball going in.  Collapse of the hard palate in the roof of the mouth can sometimes cause airway occlusion, I found it.  The orthodontist had seen it with hockey puck injuries.

Anyhow, I initially bounced back pretty quickly immediately post injury.  My mood was ok given that my dentition had been rearranged, and I had become a toothless 16 year old.  In the months and years afterward, I needed 3 or 4 operations including bone grafts, all under GA.  And it was only in the years afterward that I realised the enormity of the whole thing, and how much it affected me.

Immediately afterward, I took around a fortnight off cricket, then tried to get back into it.  After a few months, what I discovered is that every time a ball was up near my head, it was not fun - flashbacks and everything.  Batting was no longer much fun, and mentally I was impatient, and prone to all sorts of idiot shotmaking.  Never really played after the comeback didn't go so well - did some mucking around in the game after I left school, but that is about all.  Still love watching the game, and still occasionally umpire.

I sure as heck hope that nothing like that happens to DDJ.  It is even more important as he is hoping to make a living from the game, and I never had anything approaching a ceiling like that.  From a mental perspective, pitches up-and-in may not be that much fun for him in the future, but I imagine that a professional sports organisation would have a bunch of experts available to address that.  Plus, that is without even talking about physical difficulties, like the trapping of tiny little eye muscles in unseen eye-socket fractures, blurred vision, concussions and so forth.

Amongst the slightly lighthearted tone of the social media communications and press articles, I remain cognisant of the significant potential fallout from this tiny portion of time, mental and physical.  He may not play again this year, but I hope he does.  Positive vibes in your direction, DDJ.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G20: Astros @ Mariners

Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.50) versus Felix Hernandez (3-0, 1.91)

My first game recap, and it's a doozy.  The Astros add the scalp of King Felix to their the list of No 1 starters they have beat up on this year.  (Also on the list - in order - the new & slimmer CC Sabathia,  R.A. Dickey, Jered Weaver and Tanner "not Yu" Scheppers).  They go to 6-14 on the year, snap a 7-game losing streak, and improve to 9-4 all time at Safeco, and 7-3 all time at Safeco whilst participating in the AL West.

On the Mound:

* Recently Nominated Ace, Dallas Keuchel, worked hard for the win, twirling 6 innings of 6 hit (2XBH), 2 run ball, whilst throwing 113 pitches.  I am going to indulge myself in a bit of "analysis" here:

Staked to a two-run lead in the top of the 5th, he gave up the only run scoring play against him in the bottom-half.  This was by virtue of a one-out double by Abraham Almonte, just past Marc Krauss down the right field line with runners on second and third (which got George Springer all tied in knots as the ball got stuck under the padding).  He struck out 8 against one walk.  Strikeouts came as follows: Ackley looking at fastball in the first; Zunino swinging at breaking ball in the 3rd, Miller looking at fastball in the 3rd, Ackley looking at fastball in the 4th, Miller swinging at breaking ball in the 5th, Ackley swinging at slider in the 5th, Cano swinging at slider in the 5th, Hart swinging at change up in the 6th.

* Chad Qualls has been voted off the Closer Committee, so he came in to pitch the 7th.  And did plenty well, facing the minimum and striking out 2.  He got to catch his breath after 4 pitches while the umpires reviewed Mike Zunino's looonnggg strike down the left field line.

* Matty Albers, newly minted father, pitched the 8th, giving up one hit (single), and striking out one.

* Josh Fields struck out the side on 15 pitches in the 9th, ending the game with a full-count 94mph fastball past the bat of Mike Zunino.

* All in all, Astros pitchers struck out 14 against one walk.  Excellent!

At the Plate: 

* Matt Dominguez got Designated as the Hitter Who Does Not Field, and had himself a good night: 2-3 (2B, HR), BB, 3 RBI.

* Alex Presley played LF and batted in the 6-hole.  3-4, scored twice, 3B, 1 RBI.

* Marc Krauss, perhaps counting down the number of plate appearances he has before the Super-Two cutoff, also did well: 2-4 (HR), K, 2 RBI.  Home run was to RF was off The Bartender

*Altuve: 1-4, 2B, BB

* George Springer had his first hitless night in the Major Leagues - 0-4, K, 2 LOBbies.

* He was joined in the Hitless Club by yesterday's "Hero", Marwin Gonzalez (0-4, 3 LOB), Jonathan Villar (0-4, K), and Jason Castro (0-3, Sac Fly, 2 LOB).  In Castro's defence, Steve Sparks did make a point to say that he had hit the ball hard in all his plate appearances.

Turning Point:

I hate to say that the Turning Point was an opposition error, but... well, it was.  After the Mariners tied the game in the 5th, the Astros started the 6th with an Altuve double.  Fowler then bunted, which Zunino fielded and made a great throw to Kyle Seager, Mariners 3rd baseman.  Well, he dropped it.  After that: Sac fly (Castro), K (Springer), Single (Krauss), Triple (Presley), Double (Dominguez), ground out (Gonzalez).  4 unearned, and a bemused looking Felix Hernandez on the mound.

Man of the Match:

Matty D bounced back well after a day off, and seemed to thrive not having to worry about the leather.  He earns the MOTM.  Plaudits to Dallas Keuchel, Alex Presley and Mark Krauss.

Goat of the Game:

Demote George Springer already!  Actually, probably Marwin.

Last word from Robert Ford, radio broadcaster: "Goodbye, 7-game losing streak!"

By Way of Introduction


Now that the Green Card has been checked, the hourly rate decided, and the numbers of the Cayman Island account exchanged, I thought that I would briefly introduce myself.  Note that it will be brief, as AC is not a self-aggrandizing kind of blog.  So... brief.

My name is James.  I have young kids.  I am an Astros fan, and have been since the late 1990's.  I attended the 2003 6-pitcher no-hitter in person (and yes, like a true tragic, I bought and kept the local New York newspapers).  I am a kiwi.  Not one of those, or those, but one of these.  I love hyperlinks.  I am a doctor, and have an interest in PEDs - time permitting, I will publish a series on this.

I have offered to help Mr C. Roach out with the game recaps, especially for the ones that end in the wee small hours in Central Time Zones.  They end late afternoon over here, so I can spend my evenings recapping for y'all.  I want to thank AC for giving me the opportunity, and hope that you enjoy my non-sensical rantings.

See?  Brief!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bad News: Feldman to DL

Scott Feldman is headed to the 15-Day Disabled List with biceps tendonitis and Collin McHugh will be promoted from OKC to take his spot in the rotation, starting tomorrow night at Seattle.

This is an inflammation of the tendon that connects the biceps to the shoulder. Via a Mets Today blog post from 2010, we find that this is a warning sign of a significant arm issue. Jeff Luhnow certainly doesn't seem to be too bothered, saying he's "not overly concerned...we believe this is something that with a few days of rest and rehab he'll be back in action soon."

Feldman threw 181.2IP in 2013 - his highest number since throwing 189.2IP in 2010 (of course there were relief stints in between). And of course he looked perfectly fine in his first three starts of the season, in which he allowed 7H/1ER in 20.2IP.

So I guess we hope for the best with Feldman as the anchor of the rotation. 

It is telling that the Astros didn't just shift Jerome Williams over to his spot. McHugh has thrown 14IP, allowing 12H/7ER, 8K:5BB. In two "official" starts (piggyback, and all) he has thrown 9IP, allowing 8H/3ER, 6K:2BB and is coming off an April 17 start at Colorado Springs in which he threw 5IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:0BB and 41 of his 56 pitches for strikes. The fun part is that, should McHugh win, it'll be his first career Major League win.

Monday Lunchtime Hot Links

Here are a few items of interest as you get ready to eat your anger and drink a cup of your own tears:

*Dexter Fowler has been working with Barry Bonds over the last few months. On what? "It's a plethora of things...mentally, it's physically, it's everything...We might just sit there and talk for an hour." Good luck getting into the Hall of Fame, now, Dexter.

*Jason Castro expects the team to be better this year.

*Assistant GM David Stearns is not surprised by Jon Singleton's start at OKC.

*Here's an interesting piece on how Quad Cities is using the running game to power their offense. 

The Week That Was: April 14-20

*Simulate to end of season*

Through 19 games, the Astros are 5-14 with 173K:56BB. After 19 games in 2013, the Astros were 5-14 with 185K:48BB. So that's a 3.09 K:BB ratio in 2014, better than last year's 3.85 K:BB ratio. I guess.

The week that was!

April 14: First off-day of the season
April 15: 4-2 loss vs. Kansas City
April 16: 6-4 loss vs. Kansas City *SPRINGER DAY* (11 innings)
April 17: 5-1 loss vs. Kansas City *DO YOU THINK YOU'RE INVISIBLE*
April 18: 11-3 loss at Oakland
April 19: 4-3 loss at Oakland
April 20: 4-1 loss at Oakland

Oh yes. That's a 7-game losing streak, my friends. You have to go all the way back to September 2013 to find a losing streak that long! The Astros "offense" scored 14 runs in the six games this week, giving them a 2.3 run/game average, and "hit" .199/.271/.306. The Astros also struck out 61 times and drew 19 walks. The 37 strikeouts in the Kansas City series are the most in a three-game series since the 2013 Opening Series when the Astros struck out 43 times in three games against Texas.

In 53.1IP last week, Astros pitchers allowed 63H/32ER with 30K:25BB and nine home runs. We saw implosions from recently-departed Lucas Harrell, Jarred Cosart, and Chad Qualls. In the six starts, we had three games with a Game Score over 50, and three under. Dallas Keuchel's 56 on Wednesday was the weekly high.

Cosart's Friday night start was unreal. He allowed 3H/7ER, 0K:4BB, 2HR while recording just one out. He only allowed 13ER in 60IP last season. His Game Score was 13 - the lowest Game Score in a Cosart start since September 4, 2011, when he allowed 10H/9ER in 4IP for Corpus, for a Game Score of 9. Friday's game was the first time since his professional debut (July 31, 2009) that he didn't make it out of the first inning. And it was the second time in his career that Cosart didn't record a strikeout.

"Hitting" Performances:

Jose Altuve: 8x30, .267/.312/.300 - 4 stolen bases
Jonathan Villar: 4x17, .235/.350/.471 - 3K:3BB
George Springer: 6x22, .273/.304/.318 - 7K:1BB
Jason Castro: 5x19, .263/.391/.474 - 8K:3BB
Dexter Fowler: 4x28, .143/.226/.179 - 6K:3BB
Matt Dominguez: 5x23, .217/.217/.217
L.J. Hoes: 2x19, .105/.150/.158
Chris Carter: 1x19, .053/.240/.105 - 9K:4BB

Carter is now 7x57 for the year with 26K:9BB in 68 PAs for a .123/.250/.211 slash line. Five of his hits are doubles, though. So...moving on.

Pitching Performances:

Brett Oberholtzer: 12.2IP, 13H/2ER, 10K:2BB
Dallas Keuchel: 6IP, 6H/2ER, 5K:1BB
Scott Feldman: 6IP, 5H/4ER, 2K:1BB
Brad Peacock: 5.2IP, 7H/4ER, 5K:3BB
Jarred Cosart: 0.1IP, 3H/7ER, 0K:4BB

Anthony Bass: 4.1IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB
Josh Fields: 3.1IP, 0H/0ER, 3K:1BB
Matt Albers: 3.2IP, 4H/0ER, 1K:2BB
Jerome Williams: 6IP, 9H/3ER, 3K:1BB
Paul Clemens: 7.1IP, 7H/3ER, 2K:2BB
Raul Valdez: 0.2IP, 1H/1ER, 1K:2BB
Chad Qualls: 0.1IP, 4H/3ER, 1K:1BB

Hitter of the Week: Despite the LOBsters yesterday, let's go with Jason Castro.
Pitcher of the Week: Brett Oberholtzer

Detroit tried to trade for J.D. Martinez this winter

A Detroit News article tells us that the Tigers have long been fans of J.D. Martinez - Tigers Assistant GM Al Avila knew him growing up in Miami. They were such fans that Detroit tried to acquire Martinez via trade this off-season, which the Astros declined. And when the Astros released Martinez in March, the Tigers were able to snap him up without it costing them a thing.

Writer Lynn Henning:
Why, precisely, the Astros gave up on a 6-foot-3 220-pound right-handed batter who had been used as a cleanup hitter last season is yet something of a mystery, explained best by an Astros team in the midst of a massive rebuilding program and stocked with excess outfielders. 

Toledo manager Larry Parrish:
He was a kid who hopefully got caught up in some of the stuff Houston might have been talking about - walking and taking pitches - and I'm not sure that really fit him. Hopefully, our style is going to allow him to blossom a little bit and get back to the big leagues.

This season for Triple-A Toledo, Martinez is hittimg .308/.366/.846 with 10HR and 22RBI, including a doubleheader last Saturday in which he went 4x6 with 4HR, 7RBI, and two walks. He added a homer on Friday, meaning his last five hits (in 10 ABs) have all left the yard. In his last ten games he's hitting .314/.400/1.057.


PreStros Morning Report: April 20


*Astros affiliates go 1-1 on the day.
*OKC blew a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th. Singleton goes 1x3 with two walks, Grossman goes 3x5.
*Matt Duffy collected 4RBI and Tommy Shirley threw four perfect innings with 6Ks, as Corpus ended a five-game skid with a 7-5 win over Frisco.

Oklahoma City (11-7)

OKC had a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th at Memphis. And then Memphis tied it in the 8th with a two-run shot by former Astro Scott Moore, and won it on a walk-off in the 9th, 5-4. Jake Buchanan threw 4IP, 5H/2ER, 2K:0BB; Rhiner Cruz walked three batters in 1IP but managed not to allow any runs; Jose Cisnero gave up 3H/2ER, 3K:2BB in 2.1IP and Darin Downs took the loss with 2H/1ER, 1K:0BB.

Bob Grossman was 3x5 with a stolen base; Max Stassi was 1x4 with a 2-run homer; Jon Singleton was 1x3 with two walks; Gregorio Petit was 1x4 with a double and a walk, and Domingo Santana was 1x3 with a walk.

Man of the Match: Robbie Grossman

Corpus (9-7)

Corpus jumped out to a 5-0 lead before giving all five runs back in the bottom of the 3rd - but by tacking on one in the fourth and in the 9th, Corpus gets the win at Frisco, 7-5. Matt Heidenreich allowed 6H/5ER, 3K:2BB in 3IP; Andrew Robinson gave up 1H/0ER, 1K:1BB in 1.2IP; Pat Urckfitz retired the final batter of the 5th and Tommy Shirley took over with four perfect innings, striking out six batters.

Matt Duffy was 3x5 with a 3-run homer and 4RBI; Preston Tucker was 2x3 with a double and two walks; Andrew Aplin was 1x3 with a double, two walks, and a stolen base. Leo Heras and Telvin Nash hit their first homers of the season.

Man of the Match: Matt Duffy

Lancaster (11-6)


Quad Cities (7-9)


Sunday, April 20, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G19: Astros @ Athletics

Brad Peacock (0-1, 7.45) vs Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.35)

The A's came into this weekend series with the best record in the American League. The Astros came in with the worst. The results, then, really should have been entirely expected. Oakland completes the sweep, and Houston's losing streak is now at 7, with a 4-1 defeat this afternoon. The free-falling Astros are now 5-14 on the season.

On the Mound:

*Good news, at least, in that Brad Peacock did much better today than Lucas Harrell likely would have, in Brad's first start since moving into the rotation. A two-run Josh Donaldson homer in the first inning was the only blemish on his 5 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 4 K day.

*Jerome Williams got the final three frames, allowing one run of his own and one courtesy of a Jason Castro passed ball, finishing with a 3 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 1 K line.

At the Plate:

*Marwin Gonzalez was the man today, going 2x4 with a solo HR that was the only thing keeping the Astros from their third shutout in just over a week.

*George Springer kept his career-spanning 5-game hitting streak alive, going 1x4 with a K, and a shiny diving catch in right field on Oakland's first batter of the game.

*Jose Altuve's perfect stolen base streak was broken, but he did keep his own 5-game hitting streak alive, going 1x4 with a double, a BB, a K, a SB, and a CS.

*Dexter Fowler got his first steal as an Astro, and went 1x2 with 2 BB.

Turning Point:

After George Springer's spectacular catch to rob Coco Crisp for the first out of the 1st, Jed Lowrie followed with a single and Josh Donaldson followed with a homer. Those were the only runs Brad Peacock would allow, but that was more than Houston's offense could overcome against Jesse Chavez and the A's this afternoon.

Man of the Match:

Marwin Gonzalez. Got the start at 3B to give Matt Dominguez the day off, and he capitalized.

Goat of the Game:

Going with Jason Castro. 0x3 with a BB and 2 K, but 4 LOBsters, including two in scoring position in the top 7th. Then in the bottom 7th, his passed ball let in Oakland's fourth run.

PreStros Morning Report: April 19


*Affiliates go 2-2 on the day
*Rudy Owens threw five hitless/shutout innings and Jon Singleton hit a 3-run homer in a 6-2 OKC win over Memphis.
*A rehabbing Matt Harrison held Corpus to no runs on three hits in a 6-0 Corpus loss.
*Vince Velasquez allowed just one hit in 5IP and Brandon Meredith hit two homers in a Lancaster win.
*Four errors doom Quad Cities in a 7-6 loss to South Bend

Oklahoma City (11-6)

OKC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, tacked on three more in the 6th and one in the 7th to defeat Memphis, 6-2. Rudy Owens threw five hitless innings, allowing 0H/0ER, 4K:0BB; Mike Foltynewicz allowed 5H/2ER, 3K:0BB in 3IP; and Jason Stoffel allowed a hit in the 9th.

Robbie Grossman (two doubles) and Ronny Torreyes (2B, 2RBI) had three hits each. Domingo Santana was 2x4 with two doubles and an RBI, and Jon Singleton hit his PCL-leading 7th homer with a three-run shot in the 6th inning.

Man of the Match: Rudy Owens

Corpus (8-7)

A rehabbing Matt Harrison held Corpus to zero runs on three hits in a 6-0 Frisco win. Ross Seaton threw 4.1IP, 6H/5R (3ER), 2K:3BB and Luis Cruz allowed 3H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 3.2IP.

Matt Harrison allowed 3H/0ER, 5K:1BB in 8IP for Frisco. Nolan Fontana (2B), Jio Mier, and Matt Duffy had your hits. Chris Epps and Leo Heras drew walks.

Man of the Match: Uh. Luis Cruz?

Lancaster (11-6)

Lancaster jumped out to a 3-0 lead against High Desert, and it was 6-0 by the time High Desert got on the board - Lancaster wins 7-1. Vince Velasquez continued his dominance of the California League, allowing 1H/0ER, 4K:3BB in 5IP; Kyle Westwood allowed 2H/1ER, 0K:1BB in 4IP.

Carlos Correa was 3x4 with a single, double, and a triple; Brandon Meredith hit two homers (4RBI) and Tony Kemp was 2x4.

Man of the Match: Velasquez/Meredith

Quad Cities (7-9)

Back and forth game between Quad Cities and South Bend. Down 7-4 in the bottom of the 8th, Quad Cities rallied for two runs, but couldn't push the tying run across the plate in a 7-6 loss. Four errors gave South Bend five unearned runs (catcher interference, two errors by Chan Moon, and an errant pickoff throw from Jandel Gustave). Gustave allowed 5H/6R (1ER), 3K:1BB in 2.1IP; Tyler Brunnemann continues an impressive run* with 2.2IP, 0H/0ER, 3K:0BB. Kent Emanuel allowed 1H/1ER, 2K:0BB in 3IP, and Albert Minnis threw a scoreless 9th.

*Brunnemann's last four outings: 9.1IP, 2H/0ER, 8K:1BB.

Tyler White (2BB), Conrad Gregor (2B), Brett Booth (2B, RBI, 2BB), and Jon Kemmer (2RBI) had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Brett Booth