Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Astros have actually been shut out in two consecutive games once already this season, just to two different opponents: April 12 @ St Louis and April 13 @ Pittsburgh. Now, they did give up 22 runs in two consecutive games in the Hurricane Ike aftermath @ Florida on 9/17-18, when they were defeated 14-2 and 8-1, but it's been since June 27-28, 2006 @ Detroit since the Astros have been shutout in consecutive games by a single opponent (Clemens and Pettitte took the losses).
But this 9-0 loss to the Giants was just brutal. Russ Ortiz, in a return to the site of former glory, cruised along for five innings, giving up just two earned runs, before the wheels fell off in a 6-run 6th. In the 5th, Ortiz walked Tim Lincecum - he of the .171 average - who scored on a Pablo Sandoval single. The Astros couldn't get the double play turned to get out of the 5th inning, allowing Winn to score on a fielder's choice, who then scored on a Pudge passed ball. 2-0, after five.
In the sixth, Ortiz got two quick outs, then gave up...
Ishikawa: infield single
Lincecum: another walk
Rowant: 2-run single
Winn: 2-run double
Sandoval: intentional walk
That was the day for Ortiz, but not the damage, because Sampson came in and gave up an RBI double to Molina, and an RBI single to Schierholtz - both runs charged to Ortiz.
Let's do the thing:
Ortiz: 5.2IP, 9H/8ER, 7K:5BB, 15/30 first-pitch strikes, 27/63 non-contact strikes
Sampson: 1.1IP, 2H/0ER, 1K, 5/6 FPS, 6/13 NCS
Valverde: 1IP, 1H/1ER, 4/4 FPS, 1/6 NCS
The Giants, who have outscored the Astros 22-0 in these two forgettable games, are aiming for a chapter in the book of lore that is the Astros-Giants history. From May 15-17, 2006, the Giants outscored the Astros 34-5 (10-1, 14-3, 10-1), all at Minute Maid Park. Fun, huh?
Offensively, there was nothing happening. Even though the Astros only managed three hits, they were 0x7 with RISP (compared to 6x12 for the Giants). Hits from Berkman, Blum, and Pudge - Berkman and Pudge for doubles - were all the Astros could get in the hits column, and Lance got both walks. Consider this, Lance's batting average now stands at .270. His OBP is .401. That's wild. The rest of the Astros? Not so much. Kaz Matsui is hitting .236 after going 0x3 and only seeing 10 pitches. Geoff Blum, despite getting a third of the Astros' hits, was 1x4 - with 10 pitches! Four of the Astros regular starting lineup is hitting .270 or worse (and that includes Berkman's tear of late, where he is right at .270).
Also consider this, over the last three games, the Astros have drawn seven walks. Berkman has five of them.
Man of the Match: I don't see any choice but to give it to Lance. He's hitting .455 over the last week, and after the 6/24 game versus Kansas City, when he went 0x5 to lower his average to .239, Lance has gone 15x29 and has a six-game hit streak going, with hits in 12 of his last 14 games.
Goat of the Game: I don't see any choice but to give it to Ortiz. This pass through a six-man rotation may only last a week, and only because it's turning into a contest of Who Sucks Worse? Although it should be pointed out that Ortiz hasn't given up 8ER combined since May 19 (9 appearances). Still...
“Getting paid to play baseball still hasn’t set in yet. I don’t have to worry about homework or anything else. It’s all about baseball. I’m really enjoying it. It’s everything I’ve dreamed about.”
And propers to Bobby Heck and his staff:
“The Astros had been in contact with me since October. They showed a lot of credibility. That made the decision to sign a lot easier. This is a one-time opportunity, and I want to make the most of it.
Goebbert is presently 5x25 with 2XBH and 2RBI, with a .200/.259/.320 line through eight games.
barring a collapse in the next three weeks, look like they may stick with the status quo.
July 1: Brendan Donnelly filed for free agency
July 2: It's official, Polin Trinidad promoted from Corpus
July 3: Chad Paronto activated from 7-day DL
Can't say I blame Donnelly, he wasn't exactly rewarded for pitching really well this season for the Express. In 24 games (25.2IP), Donnelly was 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA / 1.09 WHIP, 21H/5ER, 23K:7BB. Best of luck to him.
July 1: Placed Reid Kelly on the 7-day DL
July 2: Assigned Casey Hudspeth to Lancaster from Corpus
July 2: Assigned Chris Salamida to Lancaster from Corpus
Sometime-MLBer Manny Parra shut the Express down last night 3-1 versus Nashville. The Express managed only four hits: Bogusevic, Manzella, Maysonet, and a pinch hit from Jason Smith. Mark McLemore got the start and pitched well, 6.2IP, 5H/2ER, 5K:4BB, while Geary threw a perfect 1.1IP. Daigle gave up the last run of the game.
The Hooks jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the 1st inning, and rode it out to defeat Tulsa 7-1. Multi-hit games from Wladimir Sutil, Jhon Florentino, and a 3x4 game from Drew Locke led the offense, while Colin DeLome had a two-run single. Nick Moresi hit a pinch-hit solo homer. Andy Van Hekken was El Hombre, with 6IP, 7H/1ER, 1K:2BB and McKeller and Lumsden provided three scoreless innings in relief.
Lancaster fell to Lake Elsinore last night, 11-4. A 3x4 game from Matt Weston, and a 2x3 game from Gabe Suarez provided five of the eight hits (Shuck, Steele, Clemens). Casey Hudspeth threw 5.1IP, 9H/6ER, 6K:4BB while Shane Wolf threw .1IP, 0H/3ER, 3BB (with help on the ERs from Jordan Powell.
The Legends got hammered by Augusta 9-2 last night as Brad Dydalewicz suffered his third loss of the season. Jay Austin (3x5) and Reinaldo Pestana (2x4) got five of the Legends' eight hits. Dydalewicz threw 4.1IP, 8H/6ER, 3K:2BB in the loss while Arcenio Leon gave up 3ER in 2IP.
The ValleyCats lost to Brooklyn on a walk-off 3-2 last night at the most beautiful minor-league ballpark I've ever been to (uh, that would be KeySpan Park in Brookyln). Brian Kemp did what Brian Kemp does - and that's rake - 2x4 and now hitting .351. Nick Stanley got him an RBI single for the lone RBI. David Duncan looks like he may have his mechanics worked out, throwing 7.1IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:1BB while Robby Donovan blew his first save of the year, allowing the earned run on two hits and a walk.
And Greeneville completed the 1-5 day by the minor-league affiliates by losing to Elizabethon 7-5. That said, 1st round pick Jiovanni Mier was 2x4 with his first professional home run in the 7th inning. Jose Altuve (also hitting his first homer of the season), Frank Almonte, and Luis Alvarez all were 2x4 - with Alvarez providing three RBI. Luis Cruz took the loss with 5IP, 5H/3ER, 4K:3BB. Dan Sarisky had a rough inning of it, giving up 3ER in 1IP, and A&M alum Scott Migl was the reliever of the night with 2IP, 0H/0ER.
16-year old RHP Alexander Martinez, from Nicaragua
17-year old LHP Kilby Pena, from Dominican Republic)
17-year old RHP Enderson Franco from Venezuela
16-year old IF Luca Martone from Italy
16-year old IF Jonathan Mejia, from Dominican Republic
“It adds depth to the system. The work we’re doing on the international front is a critical component of our effort to put together a strong, deep and productive player development system.”
Incidentally, the addition of the team in the GCL and the to-be-completed Dominican Academy will help. Wade:
“The more advanced high school kids, like (first-round draftee) Jiovanni Mier, have a suitable landing spot with our Greenville club. We talk about the uncertainty of the draft and U.S. kids. I think to a large extent it’s a real crapshoot with kids and how you try to project body types and with proper nutrition how they’ll change.
“It’s really a long-range projection. These kids will get some time under their belt in the Dominican summer league, and this time next year, when the new complex is open, we’ll create a greater structure for them to move over here and become productive.”
"It was one of those nights. We hadn’t had one of these in quite a awhile."
Coop, on Paulino:
"Felipe’s stuff was as good as it was the last time. He just didn’t have good location."
More Coop, on Paulino:
"The breaking ball wasn't as good as it was before. Probably got too many pitches in the zone and didn't hit his spots very well. Seems like they knew what was coming."
Coop, on Fulchino:
"He's done a lot of that this year. Not just in this ballgame, but even in the games when it meant a whole lot and games were close, he still saved our staff because he pitched well for us. Even in that last inning when he went out, he said, 'Don't worry, I'm OK.' That showed me a lot right there."
"I was like, 'Wow, this is unbelievable.' I threw all my pitches, they hit everything I threw up there."
"You’ve just got to battle through it. After two innings, you still have plenty of innings left to scratch back. But we didn’t put anybody on base."
Bruce Bochy, on Sadowski:
"The kid was good. He knows how to pitch. He works both sides of the plate. He can sink it. He has got great poise."
How did this happen? Let's recap the first inning...
Rowand: 1-2 K (swinging) -
Winn: 2-1 single to left
Sandoval: 2-1 homer to right
Schierholtz: 0-1 single to right
Renteria: 3-2 single to center (with a wild pitch in there)
Ishikawa: 2-2 K (looking)
Uribe: 1-0 groundout to second (but not after a Quintero PB scored Schierholtz)
Okay, so it's 3-0 after one. Paulino threw five of his seven first-pitches for strikes.
Whiteside: 2-2 double to center
Sadowski: sac bunt
Rowand: four-pitch walk
Winn: 3-2 2-run triple
Sandoval: First-pitch lineout to first
Schierholtz: first-pitch RBI single to right
Renteria: 1-0 single to center
Ishikawa: 0-1 3-run homer to right
Uribe: 2-2 flyout to right
So 16 batters, six outs, nine runs. Then Fulchino comes in and gets two outs to begin the third, and then promptly gives up five straight hits - three of them for extra bases, four of them scoring Giants, before getting out of the inning, and then calming down for four scoreless innings.
So...yep. That's the biggest loss since June 15 last year - the interleague massacre at the hands of the Yankees, also 13-0. But unfortunately for my wife, and anybody else who went to that game, that was at home. Interestingly enough, the Astros lost 13-0 in 2007 to the Rangers (at home). And it's the worst road loss since August 22, 2006, when the Astros lost 14-0 to the Reds. So let's hear it for a four-year streak of getting shutout and giving up 13+ runs!
Let's just do the thing.
Paulino: 2IP, 9H/8ER, 2K:1BB, 16 non-contact strikes, 12/16 first-pitch strikes
Fulchino: 5IP, 5H/4ER, 4K:0BB, 17 NCS, 14/21 FPS
Byrdak: 1IP, 1H, 2BB, 1 NCS, 4/6 FPS
Offensively, well, you can see what happened. Sadowski was made to look like the reincarnation of Juan Marichal, getting three hits and a walk in 25 ABs vs. Sadowski. Jonathan Sanchez came in and allowed a hit in 2IP, and that was it. A .125 batting average on the night.
It was the 4th inning before Lance got the Astros' first hit, and that was it until the 7th, when Blum and Pence got back-to-back two-out singles...and then Matsui grounded out to second. Bourn provided the 4th and final hit on an infield single in the 8th. It's worth noting that Hunter Pence, despite going 1x3, only saw eight pitches all night.
Man of the Match: Let's call it for Lance. On base twice in a night where the Astros only got on base five times all night.
Goat of the Game: Really? Felipe Paulino.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The Astros send SP6 Felipe Paulino to the mound for the first game in a three-game set. In his last start vs. Detroit - and his first from coming off the DL - Paulino went 7IP, 3H/1ER, 9K:0BB, lowering his ERA from 6.18 to 5.51, and getting 33 non-contact strikes. We'll save the splits for him until his next time around in the rotation. But it is interesting to note that Paulino only ran the count to three balls four times (one of those was the solo HR to Ramon Santiago in the 3rd), and leadoff batters were 0x7 off Paulino.
The Big Sadowski gets the ball tonight for the second time in his career. Sadowski is 1-0 with an 0.00 ERA. In his only start @ Milwaukee, Sadowski was 6IP, 4H/0ER, 2K:3BB in a 7-0 win for the Giants. He got two inning-ending groundball outs, which makes sense, as in the Brewers win, he got 13 groundball outs to five flyball outs in 85 pitches.
The 30-year old Baugh was the 2001 WAC pitcher of the year and was a 1st Round draft pick by the Tigers in '01. He was 6-2 in his last eight starts, winning his last four starts in the independent Atlantic League.
"I expect us to be right there. There’s no reason we can’t win the division."
On his 2009:
“You don’t always have to feel comfortable to succeed. It’s easy to hit when the ball looks huge and your timing is good. If you can scratch something out when you’re not feeling great, that’s the key to having a pretty good season.”
We’re playing good baseball right now and we’re not putting it all on one guy’s back.”
"The key is to keep winning series. That’s the name of the game.”
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I'll be back tomorrow with a better approach, due to the expected impact of the Mucinex. But let's get the important stuff out of the way: the Astros were a Chris Sampson 7th inning away from a four-game road sweep (and season sweep) of the Padres.
The SPs threw 28 out of 36 innings in this series.
Man of the Match: Wandy.
Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui - although we're taking nominations.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
...Since getting drilled in the coconut by a flyball during BP on June 5, Alberto Arias has:
-Not given up a run
-Lowered his ERA from 3.97 to 2.08
-Held opponents to a .143/.268/.200 line.
-Miggs and LaHawk named Astros County's Employees of the Month for May
-Yorman Bazardo named PCL's Pitcher of the Week
-Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports rumbling and grumbling between Roy and Coop
-Sean Berry returns to team
-Drayon tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that there are no plans to trade Roy
-Justin Upton beats Miggs for May's Player of the Month. Miggs screwed.
-Wandy figures that maybe he's tipping pitches
-Alberto Arias hit in head by flyball during BP
-Astros announce a team in the Gulf Coast League, to begin almost immediately in Kissimmee
-Geoff Geary declines rehab assignment in Round Rock, thinks everything's fine.
-Jason Castro promoted to Corpus Christi
-Draft Day, Parte Uno
-Draft Day, Part Deux
-Astros release Geoff Geary
-Geoff Geary accepts minor league assignment.
-Jose Valverde activated from DL
-Astros County attended Express/Nashville Sounds game. Tweeted. Hilarity ensued.
-Kaz Matsui activated from DL
-Geoff Blum takes his place
-Mike Hampton goes on DL with strained groin
-Wesley Wright called up to replace Hampton
-A's sign former Astro Shawn Chacon
-Astros sign 3rd round comp pick Jonathan Meyer
-Alberto Arias prevents Darin Erstad from killing Wandy Rodriguez with a line drive in BP. Hailed as hero.
-It's announced the Astros have signed 33 of their draft picks from 2009 draft
-2007 draft pick Devon Torrence hangs up the baseball spikes, focuses on Ohio State football
-Lance Berkman collects his 1000th career RBI with a 2-run homer
-1st round pick Jiovanni Mier signs
-Astros designate Brandon Backe for assignment
-7th round pick Dallas Keuchel signs
-Polin Trinidad will be promoted to Round Rock following Texas League ASG
-Astros announce they'll go with a six-man rotation until the All-Star break
-Minor league pitcher Chad Wagler retires
The Rangers had hoped to sneak Duran through waivers, and almost did. He had only a few more hours to clear and stick with the organization. Instead, the Astros got him and will have to place him on the major-league disabled list as he recovers from an appendectomy.
Duran was a 6th round pick out of Weatherford College. In 2007, Duran hit .300/.352/.525, 32 doubles/22 homers, 77K:34BB - all in 480 at-bats. In 2008
Minor League Ball:
Duran projects as a solid hitter, a .260-.280 guy at the major league level. He won't draw a ton of walks, which will keep his OBP at mediocre/adequate levels. But he'll provide more pop than the average utility infielder: If someone gave him 500 at-bats he could hit 30 doubles and 15 homers. His versatility is also a plus. Duran isn't a future star, but he should have a long career as a really good bench guy who could be better than some players with regular jobs.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal gets in on the commentary:
Long-term, Duran could figure into the mix for the Astros at second and third base and in a utility role.
Called up to replace Jared Burton, Drew Sutton will join the Reds from Triple-A Louisville.
Reading the Cincinnati Enquirer's recap makes me sad:
Sutton was hitting .254/.388/.492 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 130 at-bats for the Louisville. He spent time on the DL with mono right after the Reds got him.
He can play all four infield positions and he's a switch-hitter.
Sutton had a breakout season in 2008, hitting .315 for Corpus Christi with 20 home runs and 20 steals. He was Corpus Christi’s Most Valuable Player and was a Texas League All-Star. He led the Astros organization in a number of offensive categories, including batting average, hits, runs, walks, doubles and extra-base hits.
Give credit to Easy Eddie for trading a guy with mono, though. Best of luck to him.
This will be the second time Moehler has faced the Padres this season, the first coming May 9 when he lowered his ERA by more than 5.5 points in a 7IP, 5H/1ER, 6K:1BB outing.
Last three starts:
Interesting note: Since Moehler's 123-pitch CG @PIT on May 29, he hasn't thrown more than 100 pitches in a start. Of course, he was on his way to a great outing last time out versus KC, but the errors led to an extra 20 pitches, and he was pulled after 92 pitches and five innings.
Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 44x111, .396/.427/.703, 14K:5BB
vs Lefties: 35x140, .250/.312/.436, 23K:12BB
When swinging at the first pitch (38): .472/.486/.778, 7XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (130): .303/.341/.556, 24K:6BB
After First-Pitch Balls (106): .269/.343/.452, 13K:11BB
RISP: 23x71, .324/.380/.479, 9K:7BB
Runners on: 38x131, .325/.375/.521, 15K:9BB
2OwRISP: 6x28, .214/.267/.214, 6K:2BB
Walter Silva will be making his fifth start of the year for the Padres tonight, after a gap from April 13 to June 20, seeing what Triple-A Portland was like in April and May.
Last two starts:
Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 10x28, .357/.457/.714, 2K:6BB
vs Lefties: 12x42, .286/.380/.429, 6K:7BB
When swinging at the first pitch (5): .750/.600/1.500, 2XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (41): .306/.390/.528, 6K:5BB
After First-Pitch Balls (39): .267/.410/.433, 2K:8BB
RISP: 8x23, .348/.370/.739, 2K:2BB
Runners on: 12x38, .316/.378/.579, 4K:5BB
2OwRISP: 3x8, .375/.375/.750, 0K:0BB
That's what you would think, but it's not happening.
Castro only has nine ABs, "platooning" at third in Tri-City with Jhonny Medrano, and he knows that Jason Castro is C1 of the future.
"I’m OK with that. I have the ability to help a team with my versatility, my ability to play several positions. That’s my strength. However many (ABs) I get, I’ll try to make the most of it."
Tri-City manager Jim Pankovits:
“We’ll find a way to get him so more at-bats. He can help us.”
And on answering questions about former teammate Stephen Strasburg:
“It gets a little tiring after while. But he’s a great guy.”
1B: Russell Branyan, Seattle
2B: Aaron Hill, Toronto
SS: Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay
3B: Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
C: Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians of Cleveland
OF: Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay; Jason Bay, Boston; Torii Hunter, Los Angeles
1B: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
3B: Casey Blake, Los Angeles Dodgers
C: Benji Molina, San Francisco
OF: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets; Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia; Michael Bourn, Houston
Think I'm stupid? Let me know.
Brewers Assistant GM Gord Ash:
"You have to at least take a look."
This makes sense, I think, for the Brewers. Backe has proven that he performs better in high-pressure situations, and it makes sense for a team in contention to sign him to a deal, keep him healthy and hope for the best in a pennant chase. He's not due much money - the Astros have to pay him his $1.55 million no matter what - so any team who signs him is on the hook for a pro-rated league minimum. He's a low-risk, high-reward signing for a contender looking for an SP5 (who will blow the roof off a game in October).
6/24 vs. Kansas City
B2 - 3-1 groundout to SS
B5 - 1-1 groundout to SS
B7 - 3-2 walk
B9 - 2-2 flyout to LF
B11 - 1-2 groundout to 2B
6/25 vs. Kansas City
B2 - 2-0 groundout to SS
B4 - first pitch flyout to CF
B6 - 0-2 groundout to 3B
B8 - 3-2 K (swinging)
6/26 vs. Detroit
B1 - 2-2 K (swinging)
B3 - 1-2 single to LF
B5 - 0-2 groundout to 2B
B7 - 0-1 groundout to SS
6/27 vs. Detroit
B1 - 0-2 flyout to RF
B3 - 3-1 double to LF
B5 - 0-2 K (swinging)
B7 - 1-0 GIDP to 2B
6/28 vs. Detroit
B2 - 1-1 flyout to CF
B4 - 2-2 ground rule double to LF
B7 - 0-2 K (swinging)
B9 - 2-2 foulout to C
6/29 @ San Diego
T2 - 0-1 flyout to RF
T5 - 0-1 flyout to CF
T6 - 2-2 fielder's choice to 3B
T9 - 1-1 infield single to 3B
6/30 @ San Diego
T2 - 0-2 lineout to RF
T4 - 1-1 groundout to 3B
T6 - 2-2 flyout to CF
T8 - first pitch groundout to SS
Let's break this down:
11 groundouts / 9 flyouts
4 strikeouts - all swinging / 1 walk
In play, left side: 12
In play, right side: 3
In play, middle: 8
For a guy who Inside Edge says hits to middle/left side of the infield 71% of the time, to do so 87% of the time would indicate that he's trying to pull the ball, and since five of the seven games in question are home games - he's trying to get a jack, and rolling over on the ball.
28x88, .318/.436/.625, 13XBH (6 doubles, 7 homers), 18 RBI. 15K:20BB.
1-1 with a 1.91 ERA / 1.03 WHIP. 33IP, 27H/7ER. 24K:7BB.
Despite getting outhit 4-3, the Express, behind Josh Muecke's 8IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:1BB defeated Iowa 1-0. The three hits came courtesy of Manzella, Gall, and Johnson
A late inning rally fell short as the JetHawks let Stockton get out to a 7-1 lead, before staging a rally, and disappointing everyone - even God - in a 9-8 loss. Brandon Barnes hit a 3-run jack, and the JetHawks got multi-hit games from Corrado, Barnes, Steele, and Cabral. Leandro Cespedes had another rough outing, giving up 9H/7ER (9 runs) in 4.1IP. Jose Duran threw 3.2 scoreless innings.
A four-run 7th sunk the Legends, as they lost 7-2 to Augusta. Ebert Rosario had two hits as Eric Suttle provided the two runs on a single in the 5th that gave them a 2-1 lead. The seven runs allowed were a team effort. Seaton went 5.1IP, 6H/3ER; Villar .2IP, 3H/2ER; Mowdy 1IP, 0H; Leon 1IP, 2H/2ER.
Princeton jumped out with six runs in the 1st/2nd innings and that pretty much did it in a 6-3 win over the Greeneville Astros last night. Jonathan Meyer was 3x4 and J.D. Martinez was 2x4 with two runs scored. Jose Cisnero took the loss with 1.1IP, 1H/4ER, 2K:3BB.
Hampton had a great outing in his first start since coming off the DL. Let's take a gander:
Hampton: 6IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:1BB, 18 first-pitch strikes (78.3%), 31 non-contact strikes
Sampson: 1IP, 4H/3ER, 1K:0BB, 6 FPS (85.7%), 7 NCS
Arias: 1IP, 1K:1BB, 4 FPS (100%), 5 NCS
So Sampson. What the heck happened? Well, here's what sucks: all three of those 7th inning runs came with two outs. After getting Blanco to K (swinging), and Cabrera to sac bunt, Sampson gave up three straight hits - a double to right, single to right, single to center. 4-3 game. And, for the second time in three days, the Astros lose on a night that the Cubs, Reds, and Cardinals all lost.
"I just didn’t make pitches," he said. "It was my fault. I missed a few spots, made some bad pitches. Hampton pitched his tail off and deserved to win. I just messed it up."
Offensively the Astros did enough to win. Berkman's 3rd inning homer capped a 2x3 night, one batter after Tejada doubled in Bourn. 1-4 in the lineup got six of the Astros seven hits, going 6x15 (.400) with a walk. The Astros did have a chance to do something in the 9th, but two quick groundouts from Pence (now hitting .310 - and has four hits in last 32 ABs) and Kata put the Astros behind, and when Michaels and Pudge walked, Bourn lined out to right to end the game.
Man of the Match: Toss-up between Lance and Hampton. But this one's going to Lance, 2x3 with a walk and a 2-run homer.
Goat of the Game: Is there any doubt? Chris Sampson.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"I haven't gotten an actual ground ball yet to throw over. We had a double-play ball [Sunday]. Well, I thought for sure it'd be a double play. The runners were really fast and they beat it out. I knew it was going to be much faster, but it's a lot quicker than I expected. Everything is much faster. I'm coming from high school, so obviously the pitching is much harder, the runners are faster. You have to be on your toes. High school competition wasn't too bad, but it's a huge step to the pitchers, they're much more advanced. In high school, they're basically fastball, curve. Here, they've got everything else and they can do a lot more with their pitches."
He gained a reputation in high school with his good hands, range and above all else, his defensive instincts. He's not the fastest player, but he makes up for that with terrific positioning and anticipation. He's simply got a feel for playing the premium spot in the infield and goes about his business with a quiet confidence. Fans in Greeneville, and if all goes according to plan, eventually in Houston, will get to see all of it on display.
Free Agents following 2009 season
Of this list, who do you see the Astros resigning?
Our Fair Team is 36-38, and with a win tonight will be - obviously - within one game of .500. That hasn't happened since the Astros were 1-2 on April 8. How do you like that? It's also worth noting that, with last night's win, the Astros are 17-17 on the road. And 19-21 at home.
No rundown on Mike Hampton today, as it's just been too long since he pitched.
Josh Banks will be making his first start of the season tonight against Hampton, having pitched in relief in two games this season so far. Tonight was initially Wade Leblanc's turn in the rotation, but he went out and got himself sent to Triple-A Portland with a 14.54 ERA.
I imagine we could be seeing what the bullpen has to offer early tonight (i.e, before we all go to bed), as his pitch count hasn't been ramped up to this point. Banks gets some flyballs, but at PETCO, that's okay.
Let's do the splits, even though he's only faced 22 batters:
vs Righties: 6x17, .353/.350/.529, 2K:1BB
vs Lefties: 1x5, .200/.200/.200, 0K:0BB
When swinging at the first pitch (0): n/a
After First-Pitch Strikes (13): .300/.333/.600, 1K:1BB
After First-Pitch Balls (13): .333/.308/.641, 1K:0BB
RISP: 0x7, .000/.000/.000, 1K:0BB
Runners on: 2x16, .125/.125/.125, 2K:0BB
2OwRISP: 0x4, .000/.000/.000, 0K:0BB
Yeah. That wasn't very helpful. Worst. Matchup Post. Ever.
Right now it looks like Miggs will be NLSS2.
Don't feel bad, Stan McNeal thinks the Cubs, Braves, Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Rockies, and Padres will only get one AS, as well.
Beginning with Mike Hampton's start Tuesday against San Diego, the Astros will use six different starting pitchers in six games, a decision made because Houston is unable to justify removing any of its five starters from the rotation to make room for Hampton, who will come off the disabled list to start for the first time since June 12.
SP1 - Roy
SP2 - Wandy
SP3 - Moehler
SP4 - Ortiz
SP5 - Hampton
SP6 - Paulino
First of all, that's bullcrap. With the exception of flashes of brilliance vs Pittsburgh, Moehler hasn't pitched very well at all.
"It makes sense to do that. Ortiz is coming off surgery, Paulino just came back from the DL and Hampton will be just coming off the DL. He has a history of missing starts anyway, and this is a way to protect him and Paulino a little bit -- and maybe the same for Russ. More than that, it's just difficult, because they've all pitched pretty well."
The Astros are supposedly worried, according to JD, that Hampton and Ortiz will not be able to take a heavy load of innings because of their lack of pitching over the past several years. First, for that happen, Hampton's got to stay off of the disabled list, which so far, he hasn't been able to do. Second, for that to happen, these two guys have to show a consistent ability to get past the fifth inning, which also, so far, has yet to happen.
Word within the piece is that the Astros would use it until the All-Star break, and there are 13 games until the All-Star Break - 14 if you count the completion of the May suspended game versus Washington.
6/30: Hampton vs. Banks (@SD)
7/1: Moehler vs. Silva (@SD)
7/2: Wandy vs. Correia (@SD)
7/3: Paulino vs. Sadowsky (@SF)
7/4: Ortiz vs. Lincecum (@SF)
7/5: Oswalt vs. Johnson (@SF)
7/6: (Presumably) Hampton vs. Vazquez (vPIT)
7/7: Moehler (vPIT)
7/8: Wandy (vPIT)
7/9: Completion of previous game vs. Washington / Paulino (vWSH)
7/10: Ortiz (vWSH)
7/11: Oswalt (vWSH)
7/12: Hampton (vWSH)
A couple of things. Whoever would deprive us of an Oswalt/Lincecum matchup on the 4th of July doesn't deserve to be in baseball. And under this system, Hampton gets three starts, everyone else gets two starts from today on.
"You get an extra day, which is not all that bad. This last rotation everybody seemed to pitch pretty well. It's one of those things that if we're all doing well and they want to try it, then why not? If that's only going to help, lets' try it out. If it's not going to hurt anybody or do anything to anybody, then we should be totally fine."
I can see, how going with matchups, this would help. Moehler and Hampton get starts against Pittsburgh, and if we're auditioning guys (Moehler, Hampton) for trades, then I guess I can put up with it for a couple of weeks.
The move seems almost obvious. The Astros rank 11th in the National League in OPS at third base. Miguel Tejada ranks 32nd among major-league shortstops in the plus-minus ratings on Bill James Online.
Why not move Tejada to third and promote slick-fielding shortstop Tommy Manzella from Class AAA? One reason, general manager Ed Wade says, is Tejada's pending free agency.
"We've never broached the subject with Miggy about moving," Wade says. "I'm sure if we asked him, he'd do it. Frankly, I think it's tough to ask a player to change positions in his free-agent season."
Wade says such a decision would make sense only if it improved the club "dramatically." That might be a difficult sell: Manzella, 26, has only a .699 OPS at Class AAA.
And then...wait. Could it be? Credit given to Ed Wade?
The point is, the Astros — under tight financial constraints — probably will have no choice but to improve from within. If they don't make a move at shortstop, they certainly will have flexibility with their pitching staff.
The return of left-hander Mike Hampton in addition to righty Felipe Paulino will give the team six starters, at least temporarily. Righties Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo loom as potential reinforcements at Class AAA.
Give Wade credit for mining the so-called "free" market for talent. Bazardo was a minor-league free agent. Two of the Astros' most successful relievers this season, Alberto Arias and Jeff Fulchino, were waiver claims from the Rockies and Royals, respectively.
Regrettably, I totally agree with Rosenthal on letting Miggs earn his next contract. Play it out at shortstop, and let Manzella/Maysonet fight it out over the rest of the year in Triple-A and in Spring Training 2010, and fill the gaps from within. I think we've seen the last of the $100 million contracts out of Drayton.
Free agent shortstops in 2010 include (and their ages):
Orlando Cabrera (35)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Adam Everett (33)
Chris Gomez (39)
Alex Gonzalez (32) - $6MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
John McDonald (35)
Marco Scutaro (34)
Omar Vizquel (43)
Jack Wilson (32) - $8.4MM club option with a $600K buyout
Does that flip up anybody's skirt? Me neither.
In four seasons in the minors, Wagler was 18-21 in 97 games, with a 4.61 ERA. He made it to Corpus Christi this season - the highest level of his career, going 1-3 in 11 games for the Hooks, bouncing between Corpus and Lancaster.
On Friday night, Wagler started for the JetHawks vs Rancho Cucamonga and went 6IP, 9H/7ER, 2K:3BB. In 2009, Wagler was 4-5 with a 5.97 ERA.
Jeremy Johnson threw 8IP, 7H/1ER, 3K:1BB to get his 5th win of the season in a 3-2 win over the Iowa Cubs. Five of the Express' six hits came from 6-7-8 in the order, with Yordany and Spann getting two each and Jeremy Johnson (cliche alert) helping his own cause with an RBI single.
A late inning rally fell short as the Hooks fell 5-4 to Frisco. Mitch Einertson and Felix Molina had two hits each, while Jhon Florentino had a two-run single in the 8th. Brad James went 6IP, 6H/1ER, 4K:2BB and C-Lo got tagged up for his first runs allowed in Double-A with .1IP, 1H/4R (2ER), 0K:3BB in the 7th inning. Ryan McKeller came in for the final five outs, striking out four.
A day after getting whooped 18-2, Lancaster's pitching staff held it together a bit better, but still lost, 6-5, to Stockton. Craig Corrado was 3x4, Jonathan Fixler 2x4, and T.J. Steele hit a 2-run homer in a 4-run third inning. Pitcher Bryan Hallberg went 3.2IP, 9H/6ER, 4K:3BB while Shane Wolf and Fernando Abad threw 4.1 scoreless innings.
Tri-City got a 4-run 6th inning to defeat Vermont, 4-3. Two RBI each from Ben Orloff and Renzo Tello accounted for the scoring. Jeff Hulett was 2x3, as well. And Brian Kemp was 1x3 to lower his Avg to a team-high .346. SP Kyle Godfrey allowed 3ER in 5IP, and Brandt Walker threw 3IP, 1H/0ER, 0K:2BB to get the win.
Greeneville was all over Princeton early and late in a 9-3 win. Jose Altuve was 3x6 in the leadoff spot, Aaron Bray was 2x3 with 2RBI and 2BB, and Ryan Humphrey also had 2H/2RBI (with a triple). Carlos Quevedo got the win with 5IP, 4H/1ER, 2K:0BB.
Yep, because the Astros have sent Wesley Wright to Round Rock.
“I could kind of see it coming. I have most of my options left. It’s never easy. You have to take it with the best attitude you can and go down there and continue and do what you’ve been doing.”
"The last two outings, Wesley has thrown the ball particularly well. He understands the circumstances better than most of us do."
Now that's telling. Could Coop be upset with this decision?
Want to hear my favorite Petco Park story? You don't have a choice, unless you scroll down. So the Padres opened Petco Park, and you could buy bricks to go on their sidewalk, or wherever, and have them engraved. So someone bought a bunch of bricks, and had them say Break Open Your Cold Ones, Toast The Padres! Enjoy This Championship Organization. Of course, what does the first letter of each word spell? BOYCOTT PETCO. To the Padres credit, they left it. No need to invite PETA to a baseball game.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Astros' win last night. Multi-hit games from Berkman, Lee, and Oswalt, with Lee leading the way in the Pitches Seen department (18, in four PAs). Once again, the Astros didn't draw any walks - more on that later this morning.
RBIs from Lee (single), Blum (sac fly), Pudge (homer) accounted for the runs; Lee's and Blum's came in a two-run 6th inning that broke a 1-1 tie.
But the real story is Roy's second complete game of the season, and this one - unlike vs the Twins - was a win. Let's regard...
Roy: 9IP, 2H/1ER, 8K:2BB, 17 first-pitch strikes (FPS) (54.8%), 36 non-contact strikes (NCS) - 25 called strikes, and 11 swinging strikes. 110 pitches, 74 for strikes.
His only real trouble came in the 4th...
Kouzmanoff: Popout to SS
Wild pitch scores Eckstein
Headley struck out looking
Alfonzo struck out swinging
And that was it. From the Headley AB, Roy got the next 17 batters to end the game.
Man of the Match: Roy. No doubt. ERA is now down to 4.02.
Goat of the Game: I'm giving this one to Kaz Matsui, and if anyone can give me a reason to rescind it, I'm open to the idea. 0x3 with a K and saw 12 pitches all night.
Monday, June 29, 2009
The jump from A-ball to AA is widely considered the toughest jump in the minor leagues. In his first 15 games with the Hooks, Castro seems to have made the transition. Entering Saturday’s game at Frisco, he had a .298 batting average with 1 home run and 4 runs batted in.
“It’s all happened real fast. I’ve been thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given. It’s been exciting and I’m looking forward to what’s to come, and the second half here in Corpus Christi. When I first got here, I didn’t really know what to expect. After the first few games I played, I quickly recognized the jump in competition was definitely there. I’ve settled in and gotten more comfortable. I’d say (the biggest difference is) the speed of the game. The quality of pitching you see as a hitter is definitely better. And on the catching side, you’ve got to be a little smarter. The hitters are better, and they’ll punish you for it. You definitely have to be on top of your game at all times.”
Hooks Manager Luis Pujols:
“I think he’s holding his own and doing pretty well. I have worked with him on a couple of things, little details where the higher he goes, people will be looking more at it. I want him to be sure this is the right place to start learning those things, stuff like pitch selection, receiving and blocking.”
Untitled AL Scout:
(He) is going to be a fast-track guy who’ll be in the big leagues for a long time.”
Astros special adviser Matt Galante:
“Once we evaluate what we have, we’re going to get those guys here quicker because this is the level that separates the men from the boys. He didn’t look out of place in big-league camp. Not that he was ready to play there, but he fit right in and that’s one reason we felt we could move him quickly. He didn’t look like he was a minor-league player.”
This one comes from Newsday:
Two relievers the Yankees might be interested in are the Rockies' Huston Street and the Astros' Jose Valverde. But the Rockies, who entering last night were 22-7 since Jim Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle, have played their way into wild-card contention and Astros owner Drayton McLane, whose team is playing better, isn't a fan of conceding in midseason.
Of course, this is all a moot point if you read a few paragraphs above, Brian Cashman:
"How I operate is to try to look from within to solve the problem..."
So this really is goodbye. (Stares at feet.)
"I'm throwing the ball real well over the course of the year, and my health has held up. I'm going to keep letting the train keep going and throw every five days. You go out there with the mind-set that your team is going to give you the best effort to win. I go out there every time just worrying about my job, and I know my guys are going out there and trying their hardest. Sometimes you get on the short end of the stick. But let's not worry about one game; let's worry about the course of the year and how the team ends up."
While Norris has been impressive this season, there is still room for improvement. Bombard said his young pitcher needs to work on controlling his fastball. Norris said he needs to improve on keeping base runners in check. This season, Norris has added a changeup to go with his mid-90 mph fastball and his slider.
I'm worried about the Round Rock team now and pitching here and giving them the best opportunity to win. When the time is right, they'll know when I'm ready."
When the Astros drafted Jordan Lyles in the supplemental first round in '08, a lot of people said "huh?" as he didn't get much pre-draft hype. Most scouts saw him as a projectable but raw high school arm with signability issues, expected to attend the University of South Carolina. But the Astros had a good read on his signability, and he impressed them greatly in a pre-draft workout. It certainly looks like an inspired pick right now, as Lyles has been excellent in the Sally League so far: 3.27 ERA, 103/18 K/BB in 83 innings, 75 hits allowed. He threw 86-89 MPH in high school, but has his heater well into the 90s now, has improved his curveball and changeup, and is showing considerable polish. All the standard caveats apply of course. . .can he stay healthy, etc., but right now Lyles is one of the top pitching prospects in A-ball, and a good bit of scouting by the Astros.
The Padres are 33-41, 5-10 over their last 15 games, 14 games back of the Dodgers, and just took two of three from the Rangers in Arlington. Heath Bell has converted 20 of 21 save opportunities.
The Astros are 35-38, are 8-7 over their last 15 games, are four games back of the NL Central lead, and the bullpen has 13 losses.
Incidentally, this is a rematch of G31 that the Astros won 12-5. Oswalt went 6IP and got his first win of the season.
Let's revisit, shall we, that game?
Astros vs. Geer:
Matsui: Single, Flyout to LF, HBP (SB)
Bourn: Groundout to 2nd, GO to SS, Single to LF
Pence: GO to SS, GO to SS, Walk
Lee: RBI single to LF, Walk
Tejada: HR to LF, 2-run single to LF
Erstad: Single to 2B, GO to 2B
Pudge: Walk, Single to LF
Keppinger: GO to SS, GIDP
Padres vs. Oswalt:
Gerut: Flyout to LF, Flyout to CF, swinging K
Eckstein: GO to C, HBP, (Rodriguez batting - Single to RF)
Gonzalez: Popup to 3B, Flyball to CF, 2-run HR to LF
Headley: Single to CF, HR to RF, swinging K
Hairston: GIDP, Double to LF, Flyout to CF
Kouzmanoff: GO to 2B, swinging K (Giles batting - Single to RF)
Hundley: Walk, looking K, Walk
Burke: Flyout to CF, Popout to 2B, Popup to SS
So the Padres got Roy for six hits - three of them for extra-bases, two of those for homers.
Left side: Five
Up the middle: Eight
Right side: Three
"Without a doubt, Pudge is on a mission to get 3,000 hits. It wouldn't surprise me if he does."
"That's a goal. I'm not that far away -- 300-something hits away. I can do that."
"A lot," he said, asked how many more years he wants to play. "I love what I do, and if you love what you do, you play the game a long time. Physically and mentally, I feel great."
Pudge is 342 hits away. In 226 plate appearances this season, Pudge has 53 hits - one hit for every 4.26 plate appearances.
In order to get to 3000 hits (as of today), and keeping on his 2009 season pace, Pudge would need 1457 more PAs. Since 2004, Pudge has averaged almost 525 PAs per season, and is on pace for right around 500 in 2009. Accounting for a slight drop-off, that would put Pudge hitting 3000 hits sometime in 2012. Will he do it in Houston...? Would you want him to? I bet Quintero doesn't...
Back and forth, back and forth. As time passed, he carried these thoughts with him during game time. He worried one mistake might send him packing. So he couldn't focus.
As a result, Nieve says, his pitching suffered.
Last year, his ERA soared to 8.44. During spring training this year, the Astros placed him on waivers.
"I'm more mature now, with age and that stuff," Nieve said. "I think that helped me through it."
We're not even going to discuss Roy or Wandy - because they're in. But who deserves to get bumped, or sent down?
Let's take into account the month of June:
Looks pretty clear to me that if we're replacing a starter with Hampton, it's got to be Moehler who gets bumped. If we take into account relievers, it's not going to be Byrdak or Wright (who has a 0.00/0.60 ERA/WHIP since coming back from Round Rock, lowering his ERA almost 2 full points), because they're the only two lefties in the bullpen. Only Valverde has an ERA over 3.00, and he's not going anywhere.
This seems to be a logical move to make, which means you will be able to completely disregard this post within 30 hours.
34-42, 4th place - PCL American South, 5GB
4-1, 1st place - South, -GB
(Second half started. It's not a typo)
2-2, 4th Place - South, 1GB
2-2, 2nd place - SAL Southern, 1GB
4-4, 3rd place - NYP Stedler, 1GB
4-2, 2nd place - APP West, 1GB
And this is something we'll revisit in depth later this morning, but there's a rotation spot to consider on Tuesday. Mike Hampton is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday. Currentlly, it's as follows:
Of course, Mike Hampton is to return, so who gets left out?
"We’ve talked about it and made some plans, just got to figure out if that’s a good plan. It’d be pretty hard to not run Felipe out there. Russ has pitched well. Wandy’s one of the mainstays. Roy’s a mainstay. Moehler’s pitched pretty good, and so has Hampton. What do you do? We’ve got to figure out how to map it out to where they all stay on the hill somehow. ... We’ll go with matchups or something. I don’t know."
Roy and Wandy are locks. Ortiz stays. The Astros just got rid of Backe to get Paulino in the rotation. Moehler has a 6.00+ ERA. Again, we'll look at this more this morning, but it seems pretty clear to me - unless we're talking about sending a reliever down to make room, and have Moehler appear in long relief, as Ortiz did earlier this season.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Ortiz: 7.2IP, 6H/2ER, 5K:0BB (no walks!)
Byrdak: .2IP, 2K
Valverde: 1IP, 1H/2ER, 1K:1BB
Offensively, not much, again. Three extra-base hits: doubles from Pence and Matsui, and a triple from Bourn. Sac fly from Berkman. No walks drawn.
Man of the Match: Russ Ortiz
Goat of the Game: Jose Valverde
Russ Ortiz! Three solid starts in a row, and two of those were of the quality variety...
Last three starts:
Just pointing out, Ortiz has lowered his ERA in every start but one since May 7, from 5.91 to what is now a 3.47 ERA.
Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 32x106, .302/.397/.443, 14K:16BB
vs Lefties: 23x107, .215/.317/.346, 28K:16BB
When swinging at the first pitch (18): .438/.471/1.125, 5XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (116): .233/.313/.301, 28K:12BB
After First-Pitch Balls (117): .255/.385/.372, 14K:20BB
RISP: 10x51, .196/.259/.255, 13K:3BB
Runners on: 23x97, .237/.321/.351, 23K:11BB
2OwRISP: 5x24, .208/.296/.333, 9K:2BB
Edwin Jackson has been The Troof for Detroit this season. He's got an unfair 6-4 record, to go along with an AL 2nd-best 2.40 ERA and an AL 3rd-best 1.066 WHIP. His 7.02 Hits/9 innings are 2nd in the AL, as well.
Last three starts:
Let's do the splits:
vs Righties: 41x170, .241/.297/.388, 34K:14BB
vs Lefties: 38x199, .191/.248/.286, 45K:15BB
When swinging at the first pitch (44): .136/.136/.318, 4XBH
After First-Pitch Strikes (185): .175/.207/.215, 60K:7BB
After First-Pitch Balls (172): .284/.374/.480, 19K:22BB
RISP: 14x77, .182/.273/.273, 18K:10BB
Runners on: 28x129, .217/.301/.349, 29K:16BB
2OwRISP: 5x37, .135/.179/.162, 10K:2BB
"He's done exactly what we've needed him to do," manager Cecil Cooper said on Friday. "He hasn't not played well. It's just that the role has been diminished, because guys have become healthy, the guys that were supposed to be out there playing are playing."
5. May 15, 2005. Complete game, 4-hit shutout of the San Francisco Giants.
4. 2004 ALDS Game 3 vs. Atlanta. Backe throws 6IP, 5H/2ER, 5K:2BB. Coming off an 11-inning loss in Game 2, Backe gets the ball and delivers a win at home to take a 2-1 series lead.
3. 2004 NLCS Game 4 vs. St Louis. Backe throws 5.2IP, 2H/1ER, 7K:3BB. Backe again doesn't factor in the decision, because the Astros can't score any runs. This was the game LaRussa and Edmonds were both thrown out. Lane's homer and Ensberg's sac fly accounted for all the Astros' runs.
2. 2005 World Series Game 4 vs. Chicago White Sox. Once again, the Astros can't score, and lose the game 1-0, marking the closest sweep (read: "narrowest ass-whoopin'") in World Series history. Backe throws 7IP, 5H/0ER, 7K:0BB. Lidge comes in and gets the loss thanks to Jermaine Dye's RBI single in the 8th. At one point Backe struck out five White Sox in a row over the 4th/5th innings.
1. 2004 NLCS Game 5 vs. St Louis. Pitcher's duel with Woody Williams. Backe goes out and throws 8IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:2BB. Backe actually had a no-hitter going through 5.2IP, and until Jeff Kent's legendary walk-off (remember the hat flip?), this was among the most nerve-wracking Astros games I can remember. This game gave the Astros a 3-2 series lead, and Garner had the decision to make: Start Pete Munro in Game 6 and hope for the best? Or start Clemens on short rest and close it out? Neither of those things happen, and instead we were treated to St. Louis getting the snot knocked out of them by the Red Sox. Incidentally, this NLCS should count among the greatest series' of all time. But because the Red Sox made their 3-0 comeback against the Yankees, it doesn't get near enough credit.
I'm more sad about Backe's departure than I thought I would be. Maybe it's heading down Memory Ln, but it's important to note that Backe was more clutch in '04/'05 postseason games than Clemens was.
So sit back, relax, and get fired up, because the Astros are within two games of .500 for the first time since May 20 (when they were 18-20).
Bad news, though. The Cardinals acquired Mark DeRosa for reliever Chris Perez and a PTBNL. So they just got a lot better. And this comes on the heels of the announcement that they are working to acquire Matt Holliday.