Saturday, May 1, 2010


No game recap for Saturday due to the bad weather/sporadic power outages. Like the Astros.

Employees of the Month!

Hey! So April is done with (thank God), and it's time to renew our Employees of the Month piece. Employees of the Month receive 10% in the store, and get to park up front.

Position Players

This wasn't even hard. Michael Bourn. He's the only player hitting over .280 (.311), and he's the only one who has an OBP over .360 (.407). He's also leading the team in runs scored (12), stolen bases (9), and is second in OPS (.785).


This was not hard either. Roy Oswalt. Leading the team in ERA, ERA+, WHIP, Ks, Hits/9, and K:BB ratio.

Big congratulations to Roy

Lost in my inattentiveness this week due to external concerns (like, a job), I missed that Roy struck out Bronson Arroyo for his 1500th career strikeout.

"I didn't even know I was close to that. I don't keep up with that stuff too much. It's nice to know you've been around the game for a little while. It's pretty nice. Coming up, your main goal is just to get up here and do well and stick with a club and give them a chance to win a World Series. You get later in your career when you don't think about numbers too much, and then they start adding up and you realize some great names you're associated with."

On Nolan Ryan, who has 365 more strikeouts (as an Astro) more than Roy:

"The things he's done in the game are pretty mind-boggling. After you get up here and see how great the competition is and the many years that he threw, to throw 26 years I think, is pretty amazing. He's done a lot of good things for me, he actually helped me get into pro ball as far as coming into the Minor Leagues and Double-A. So if I can get up there and pass him, I can mess with him a little bit."

Brad Mills explains the impatience at the plate

Brad Mills explains why no one wanted to be up at the plate for too long last night:

"His stuff was so good that we didn’t want to get behind too much. He was getting ahead with us and then he was putting us away, so the guys tried to get three swings as quick as they could.”

Sure. Why make the pitcher do all the work when you're willing to do it yourself?

Berkman plans to play today!

Alyson Footer tweeted last night that Berkman plans to play in G22.

And, as Levine notes, last night was a precautionary measure:

“With an afternoon game (today) and an afternoon game on Sunday, we just felt the smart thing to do was give him (Friday) off and hopefully he'll be ready to go (today)."

“Just coming out of the box last night trying to beat out a ball I hit to the first baseman, I felt a little strain coming out, and it's a little sore today. We're going to see how it feels tomorrow, but we're going to try to give it a go."

And Wandy also plans to be ready for G22.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Recap for G22: Astros v. Braves

So....this is getting kind of old. Lance Berkman was out of the lineup with a "minor" groin injury, and the Astros lost to the Braves 4-2.

Why They Lost

It comes down to the Astros not being able to get hits, and runs. They were 4x29, all singles, and Tommy Manzella committed two errors on ground balls (one that took a bad hop and got him right in his Tommy's Apple). Myers pitched fairly well - but he did walk four batters - the same number he had walked all season to this point.

Astros Pitching

Myers76/35:4107-61 (57%)19/10
Byrdak0.20/01:114-7 (50%)2/3
Fulchino0.10/01:03-3 (100%)1/1

Let's go back to the season-long trend of Myers struggling against the order's first PA:

2x7, 2BB (though two reached on errors)

2nd time through the order: 3x8, BB
3rd time through the order: 1x8, BB

Que interesante.

Astros hitting

Glory of glories! Pedro Feliz drew a walk - the Astros' only one on the night - with one out in the 9th. This brought up Carlos Lee as the tying run. Good time to hit your first home run, right? How about a game-ending GIDP, instead?

The Astros did get two hits w/RISP - Towles and Pence.

Tommy Hanson had it working. He needed 99 pitches to get 24 outs and of his 72 strikes, 22 were called, 8 were swinging, 22 were fouled off, and 20 were put in play. So of the 108 pitches the Astros saw, only eight of them were swinging.

Pitch Count Hero: Manzella (0x3) - 18 pitches in three PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Lee (1x3) - 6 pitches in three PAs

Man of the Match: No one on the offense deserves this, so it goes to Brett Myers.

Goat of the Game: Tommy Manzella. 0x3, a GIDP, and two errors.

Recap for G21: Astros v. Reds

Does anybody have any idea what to make of this team? Neither do I. After going 8-2 through Sunday, the Astros got swept by the Reds with last night's 4-2 loss, and Oswalt's record vs. Cincinnati drops to 23-2.

Why They Lost
Because when Roy pitches, even the Astros' offense stands back and watches. Bronson Arroyo held the Astros to six hits and three walks in 6.2IP, striking out seven. The Astros were also 1x6 w/RISP (while the Reds were 1x11), with Bourn getting the only hit.

Astros Pitching

Oswalt78/37:4119-83 (69.7%)17/16
Byrdak0.21/11:08-6 (75%)1/1
Lyon0.10/00:06-3 (50%)2/0
Lindstrom11/01:225-16 (64%)1/6

If you're keeping score at home, Roy has made five starts - each of them of the Quality variety, and that's three straight 7IP outings. In those five starts, Roy is 2-3, mainly because the Astros have scored 13 runs for Roy in those five starts - 2.6 per game.

And after five straight scoreless appearances for Byrdak, he has now allowed runs in three of his last five outings.

Astros hitting

The Astros had seven hits on the night, four of them coming from Bourn and Pence. Berkman was 0x2 but was also on base twice via the four-ball part of baseball. Matsui drew the only other walk.

In 79 ABs, Carlos Lee has 14 hits, three of them for extra-bases, none of them for home runs, 16 strikeouts and just three walks. For a guy who has approximately 12.5 ABs per walk, Lee is clocking in with a walk just over every 26 ABs this season. You don't need FanGraphs to know that's high. And if you're not appalled enough yet, know this: Pedro Feliz is the only player in all of baseball (using Qualified ABs) to not draw a walk. 73 ABs, 0 walks. So the Astros' triumvirate of Lee/Pence/Feliz has 231 ABs, and five walks.

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman (0x2, 2BB) - 21 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Pence (2x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs

Man of the Match: Roy Oswalt. Pitched well enough in his first start since returning from his parents' home in Mississippi. The Astros just can't support him.

Goat of the Game: Pedro Feliz. 0x4, with a K, and ended three innings, including one on a GIDP.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wandy scratched from Friday's start

Wandy has been scratched from tomorrow's start due to back spasms. More later.

Berkman "likely to end his career in Houston"

In Jayson Stark's new Rumblings and Grumblings column, he discusses the future of Lance Berkman:

There is also a lot of buzz that assuming the Astros pick up Berkman's $15 million option for next year, they'll tack on a short extension.

Hey, unnamed friend of Berkman, what if that doesn't happen? Would he play for another team?

"No. Maybe for two months down the stretch somewhere with a chance to win. But the truth is, he's more likely to end his career in Houston. He loves being home."

Should the Astros pick up Lance's $15m option?

Great article on Brandon Claussen

Why is Brandon Claussen being referenced in this post? Because Brandon Claussen is the only Reds pitcher to beat Roy Oswalt:

Brandon Claussen didn’t even know. He called me from his truck because his wife had told him I was trying to reach him. He had no idea why. “Man, is that right?’’ Claussen asked. “Musta been a short outing for me. I mean, most of ‘em were.’’

Actually, Claussen started and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. It was his fifth start of the year, April 28, 2006, and it lowered his ERA to 6.04.

The 5-4 win gave Cincinnati a 16-7 record. Not since June 10 of that season have the Reds been at least nine games over .500. You go, Jerry Narron.

Players come and go like the sun, which makes Oswalt’s mastery even more remarkable. Of the nine Reds starters that night, only Brandon Phillips remains on the club. Of the nine, three are out of baseball (Rich Aurilia, Scott Hatteberg, Claussen) and a fourth is walking the smallest of ledges. Ryan Freel is playing for the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.

“That’s baseball, man,’’ says Brandon Claussen. “Great life, while it lasts. What most people don’t understand is, for most of us it doesn’t last very long. There aren’t a whole lot of Brandon Phillipses out there."

Eddie's Farm: April 28

Round Rock


Corpus Christi

Errors by Duran and Clemens led to three unearned Midland runs as the Hooks lost 6-2. Fernando Abad threw 5IP, 8H/6R (3ER), 2K:1BB while Erick Abreu threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:1BB relief. The Hooks offense only had two ABs w/RISP, but Koby Clemens hit his league-leading 7th homer of the season and Michael Garciaparra was 2x3 with a double.

Man of the Match: Erick Abreu


High Desert put the hurt on Lancaster in a 6-0 defeat of the JetHawks. Shane Wolf threw 5.2IP, 10H/6R (5ER), 4K:2BB, while Pat Urckfitz and Kyle Godfrey combined for 3.1IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB in relief. Brandon Barnes and Freddy Parejo were both 2x4, with Barnes' double being the only XBH on the night.

Man of the Match: Pat Urckfitz


Errors by Fixler and Jonathan Meyer led to two unearned runs in a 4-1 Lexington loss at Savannah. Tanner Bushue threw 6IP, 8H/2R (1ER), 5K:2BB, and allowed nine flyouts compared to one groundout. Dan Sarisky threw 2IP, 1H/2R (1ER), 1K:3BB in relief. The 1-2-3 of Altuve, Mier, and Martinez each had a hit, with Grant Hogue getting the only multi-hit game, going 2x3, and Martinez providing the lone RBI.

Man of the Match: J.D. Martinez

A guy that could have been an Astro gives Justice the sweats

Richard Justice's article on Drew Stubbs as the one who got away sings a familiar chorus:

The Reds made Stubbs the eighth pick of the 2006 draft and gave him $2 million after a career at the University of Texas that included a national championship.

Now about where he might have ended up. Back in 2003, the Astros took him in the third round of the draft out of Atlanta High School after agreeing to meet his $900,000 asking price.

“Yeah, I thought this was where I'd be,” he said.

That deal was never made. Major League Baseball scolded McLane for paying more than the preset slotting price, and McLane ordered his personnel department to kill the deal.

Stubbs enrolled at the UT and three years later got more than twice the money he'd originally sought.

“I put it behind me a month after it happened,” Stubbs said.

Maybe he'll make it and maybe he won't, but good organizations are built by stockpiling prospects like Stubbs.

Followed by a familiar verse:

When Ed Wade interviewed to be general manager, he was blunt in telling McLane there are no shortcuts and a productive minor league system is the lifeblood of a winning organization.

McLane admits now that he had trouble understanding the importance of scouting and player development. He preferred the immediate gratification he got from spending $100 million on Carlos Lee rather than $5 million on a bunch of prospects.

The Astros now are a different organization than the one that let Stubbs get away. They appear to have had two solid draft classes in a row and are aggressively pushing prospects through the minor league system.

Hal McCoy: Minute Maid better than Astrodome. Or Colt Stadium

Hal McCoy has been around a while, long enough to to remember the differences between Colt Stadium and the Astrodome and now Minute Maid:

Houston’s Minute Maid Park is one of my favorite baseball venues with its viaduct in left field with the train tracks and train on top, plus the terrace in center field with the flag pole in the field of play.

What a difference from old Colt Stadium, the franchise’s first ballpark when the team was the Houston Colt .45s and the mosquitoes in the outdoor facility doubled as Coast Guard helicopters.

Then there was the Houston Astrodome, which was infested with mice and rats. They released packs of cats after games to roam the park to take care of the problem.

They didn’t do such a great job, in my opinion. One night after a game, as I wrote my story, I felt something scurry across my foot in the press box. When I looked down I saw a rat as big as my Miniature Schnauzer, Barkley. I finished my story in record time.

Uh...yeah. That's the essence of winning

Roy knows what it takes to beat the Reds, but he can't explain how it happens:

“It's just one of those baseball things — I have no idea (why). I know I got my first win against them in the big leagues (on May 14, 2001). So many guys have changed (over the years). It seems like the days I pitch we score some runs, and we're able to keep them below what we score.”

And congratulations to Lance Berkman, who homer last night was #315, passing Reggie Smith for 5th on the all-time switch-hitter home run list.

"Twilight" to blame

Just like when you watch the movie, your balls disappear in the twilight.

Hunter Pence:
“It’s a play that has to be made. Here when the twilight hours are going on, the balls disappear. You’ve just got to keep going with it and try to find it. I lost it and then found it late and wasn’t able to recover as good as I needed to and like I said, I’ve got to make that play.”

“We both couldn’t see it. There’s nothing you can do about that part of the game. The only thing is you can hope for is that the roof is closed. But when it’s open and the twilight hits, it’s always around the fourth or fifth inning. You just hope that the situation doesn’t come up and it came up tonight. It cost us the game, basically. They got four runs off of that ball. It wasn’t Hunter’s fault and I’m not going to say it was my fault either. It was just a situation where you can’t see the ball.”

“I think they kept having good at-bats and that’s what we need to do. Not just in a situation where we’re down like that but have good at-bats through the entire game. It was good to see them continue that there in the end.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recap for G20: Astros v. Reds

Well, this is misleading. The Astros got three in the bottom of the 9th, but ultimately fell to the Reds 6-4.

Why They Lost
Bad defense - including Bourn losing a ball in the lights, and the self same ball glancing off of Pence's glove, and also including Votto getting an RBI triple because Pence fell all over the ball boy. The error glancing off of Pence led to four unearned runs, meaning Paulino needed 93 pitches to get through five innings.

Astros Pitching

Paulino56/24:493-53 (57%)14/8
Moehler21/01:020-11 (55%)4/2
Gervacio10/00:116-9 (56.3%)3/1
Sampson11/00:012-8 (75%)3/1

Astros pitching allowed the Reds to go 1x12 w/RISP. Every Red, save for Jay Bruce and Laynce Nix, got a hit - with Stubbs/Phillips/Votto getting on base seven times.

And yes, the Pence error led to 15 extra pitches for Paulino to get out of the inning.

Astros hitting

Mike Leake did his thing, yet again, and went 7IP, 5H/1ER, 5K:2BB. Jeff Keppinger got on base twice (fitting, since I dropped him from my fantasy team), and Carlos Lee GIDPed twice. Berkman did hit a two-run homer in the 9th, that closed the game to 6-3. Blum singled in Pence, and with the winning run at the plate, Towles struck out swinging and Bourn flied out to right, who went 0x5 with 4Ks.

Pitch Count Hero: Bourn (0x5) - 23 pitches in five PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Feliz (2x4) - 12 pitches in four PAs

Man of the Match: I don't know who to give this to. So let's go with Felipe Paulino, who should have thrown well enough to get a win, but the outfield let him down twice (four unearned runs, and a hit from Votto where Pence grinded on the ballboy - but probably would have scored anyway.)

Goat of the Game: Bourn? 0x5 with 4Ks? That's brutal.

Lyon likes the other guys in the bullpen

Says Lyon:

"We're our own little team inside a team. We go out there every game and keep our team in the game whatever the situation is. We're like a special forces unit. Everybody knows their job and no job is more important than the other."

On how he feels:
"I feel good. Obviously, I was behind schedule in Spring Training, but things are starting to come around. I was two weeks behind to start out and you don't get as outings as you're used to. The more and more I get out there, the better and better I feel."

Berkman seems to be big on promoting young arms, the way that the Reds did with Mike Leake. And probably even more so now that Leake has shut them down:

"It's very unusual to have a guy that has no Minor League experience whatsoever, but it just shows you that pitching is pitching. Good pitching will beat good hitting, and if he's a good pitcher he's going to be successful. I believe a good arm is a good arm. Not that you don't need seasoning for some guys, but let's face it -- the older guys get, the less effective they become, because they lose their velocity or whatever. I'd rather have a guy that's young and fresh and has electricity in his arm. If you have a guy you really think is going to be special, you don't want to hurt him and you don't want to rush him until he gets used to the workload they're going to be expected to carry. You see guys all the time that have success that have not very much time in the Minor Leagues. Hopefully, we have a couple of guys like that in our Minor League system."

Astros are the 4th-most hated team (?)

Who knew? Our own self-loathing has contributed to Nielsen rating the Astros the 4th-most hated team in baseball.

The Yahoo article references this Wall Street Journal post:

This service typically uses various keywords to find out whether people have positive, negative or neutral reactions to different brands and products."

Lineup for G20: Astros v. Reds

Here's your lineup for tonight's game vs. Cincinnati

1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Jeff Keppinger SS
3. Carlos Lee LF
4. Lance Berkman 1B
5. Pedro Feliz 3B
6. Hunter Pence RF
7. Kaz Matsui 2B
8. Humberto Quintero C
9. Felipe Paulino P

And Pence gets dropped another spot in the lineup...

Who We Got - G20: Astros v. Reds

Who We Got

Cincinnati: 9-11, 3rd place, 4GB
On the Road: 3-5
Vs. Houston: 1-0
Last ten games: 4-6
Runs scored/Against: 93/118

Houston: 8-11, 5th place, 4.5GB
At Home: 5-8
Last ten games: 7-3
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 62/85

Starting Pitchers
Mike Leake: 1-0, 3.92 ERA / 1.55 WHIP, 13K:13BB, 2HRA
Last three games:
(vLAD - Apr 22) 7IP, 8H/5ER, 5K:1BB
(@PIT - Apr 16) 7IP, 7H/3ER, 3K:5BB
(vCHC - Apr 11) 6.2IP, 4H/1ER, 5K:7BB

Felipe Paulino: 0-2, 5.94 ERA / 1.62 WHIP, 11K:10BB, 0HRA
Last three games:
(vFLA - Apr 22) 5.2IP, 6H/2ER, 4K:3BB
(@CHC - Apr 16) 6IP, 6H/5ER, 3K:3BB
(vPHI - Apr 10) 5IP, 4H/4ER, 4K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because Mike Leake looks like he's the only Reds pitcher to have his crap together. And if the Astros could make Aaron Harang look like Tom Glavine, then this could be a rough night. Leake is the only starting pitcher with an ERA under 5.70.

Because Leake walks batters. A lot. In 20.2IP, he has 13BB - or 5.7 per nine innings. He has been compared to Greg Maddux, because his fastball isn't overpowering, but he can pick his spots - allegedly. This is his 4th professional start, having never spent a day in the minors.

Because Paulino's ERA is almost three runs a game lower at home (5.22) than on the road (8.08). And Leake only has one road start - at Pittsburgh.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because in 2009, the Reds were 3-1 in the second game of the series after taking the first game.

Because in four starts against Cincinnati in 2009, Paulino was 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA, and 16K:8BB. Jay Bruce is 3x8 with 2HR against FP, Joey Votto is 4x14 with 3XBH. Not that those are big samples, but the Reds as a team have hit .283/.333/.547 off Paulino.

Because Paulino doesn't work while he's ahead. And he throws too many pitches. He has run the count to three balls in 140 of his 608 plate appearances, and has been behind in the count in 222 of 608 PAs. The Reds, this season, have a .426 OBP when the batter is ahead in the count. Could be a long night of more walks.


April 24
- Hooks put SS Wladimir Sutil on the 7-Day DL with a groin injury.

April 27
- Legends place Jose Cisnero on Temporarily Inactive List, reinstate Brandt Walker from Temporarily Inactive List.

Anybody with any idea what the heck happened to Cisnero is more than welcome to comment.

Reaction from Norris

In the Chronicle's G19 recap, Norris explains what happened:

“I really attacked early but then I kind of got lazy. Whatever it was — mentally or mechanically — you have to go out and compete. Some nights you’re going to have it all working, some nights you’re not, but it’s a learning experience and I’m going to take the good with the bad.”

Bud wasn’t his sharp self tonight. It was too bad because he still had good stuff but he was just getting behind hitters. He still had command issues, even though he had only given up three hits until (the sixth). We’ve seen him throw extremely well and be able to lock in and find himself once it starts to get away. It didn’t seem like that was the case (this time).”

Justice: Be patient with Bud

Richard Justice tries to talk us down from the ledge.

Bud Norris had a bad night at the office on Tuesday, and there may be a few more in the months ahead. Patience, friends.

He's on his way to becoming a really good major league pitcher, but this was just his 14th start. To put it another way, he's about halfway through his rookie season.

Tal Smith:
“We'd like these guys to be polished pitchers on day one, but that's not realistic. Look at how long it took Wandy to get to this point. They're not all going to be Roy Oswalt.“

Brett Myers:
“I see a lot of myself in Bud. I'd get beat up when I first came up, but I'd keep fighting. I think Bud maybe loses his focus at times. Sometimes young guys try to strike everyone out instead of pitching to contact, doing things that get you deeper into games...

...“I just think they need to take the initiative. Arnie (pitching coach Brad Arnsberg) is the best I've been around in the big leagues. He's got to pick his brain. And then there's Roy. One of the reasons I signed here is to have the chance to learn from him, to have a friendly competition.“

Recap for G19: Astros v. Reds

Nice of the Astros to ensure that Aaron Harang gets to keep his spot in the rotation...for now. Reds win, and end the Astros streak, 6-2.

Why They Lost
Because Bud Norris gets the Jekyll/Hyde Player of the Week. Norris only gave up six hits, but also four walks, and he hit Scott Rolen. Meanwhile, the Astros struck out 11 times, walked only once, and were 1x7 w/RISP.

Astros Pitching

Norris56/56:495-56 (58.9%)19/8
Fulchino11/00:014-9 (64.3%)2/0
Byrdak10/01:011-7 (63.6%)5/2
Gervacio10/11:218-8 (44.4%)3/1
Moehler12/00:018-10 (55.5%)3/2

Welcome back to Sam Gervacio, who walked two batters and balked. This was also the third time in four starts that Norris has walked 3+ batters, and his 10th start in which he has allowed multiple walks in his career. And yes, he has started 14 games. His only walkless start was on September 6, in a 4-3 win over Philadelphia.

The pitching staff also allowed the 5-6-7 hitters (Bruce-Cabrera-Gomes) to go 5x11 with five runs, one strikeout and three walks. Hot-hitting Ryan Hanigan was 2x3 with 3RBI and is now hitting .483. Hopefully Dusty comes to his senses and puts in Ramon Hernandez.

Astros hitting

I hate it when the Astros make a struggling pitcher look good, and that's exactly what happened. Harang only threw a first-pitch strike to 15 of the 26 batters he faced, and the Astros managed nine baserunners against him - but he just kept them from scoring. Harang gave the Astros three balls five times, and they were 1x4 with one walk and two strikeouts, both Berkman's.

Oh yeah, Pence is back under .200. Another 0x4 and his average is at .197.

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman (1x4) - 23 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Bourn (2x3) - 14 pitches in three PAs

Man of the Match: Carlos Lee is back at it. Another two-hit game, and Berkman and Pence can't get him in. Lee now has hits in seven of his last nine games, and since getting sat down on Saturday, is 4x9, with 2RBI.

Goat of the Game: It has to go to Bud Norris. Learn a little control.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who We Got - G19: Astros v. Reds

Who We Got

Florida: 8-11, 5th place, 4GB
On the Road: 2-5
Vs. Houston: 0-0
Last ten games: 3-7
Runs scored/Against: 87/116

Houston: 8-10, 4th place, 3.5GB
At Home: 5-7
Last ten games: 8-2
Runs Scored/Runs Against: 60/79

Starting Pitchers
Aaron Harang: 0-3, 8.31 ERA / 1.62 WHIP
Last three games:
(vLAD - Apr 21) 5.2IP, 10H/6ER, 2K:2BB
(@FLA- Apr 15) 4IP, 10H/8ER, 4K:2BB
(vCHC - Apr 11) 7IP, 4H/3ER, 7K:0BB

Bud Norris: 1-1, 4.26 ERA / 1.74 WHIP
Last three games:
(v. FLA - Apr 21) 5IP, 3H/3ER, 5K:2BB
(@StL - Apr 15) 5IP, 4H/0ER, 9K:3BB
(vPHI - Apr 9) 2.2IP, 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB

Why the Astros Will Win

Because these are two starting pitchers on different paths. There was talk about Aaron Harang getting skipped this start, but thankfully (for us), Dusty elected to throw him against Houston tonight - and maybe he'll pull a Zambrano and Suppan and head to the bullpen after a rough start tonight. In Harang's last two starts, he's thrown 9.2IP, allowing 20H/14ER. In Norris' last two starts, he has thrown 10IP, 7H/3ER, 14K:5BB.

Because it's well documented that the Astros kind of crush Harang. Blum is 10x17 (.588/.588/.882); Lee is 13x34 (.382/.389/.618); Berkman is 13x51, but with 7HR.

Or because Norris has never faced the Reds, though this could go either way. In his last two starts, Norris has held hitters to .189/.286/.297, and eleven total bases.

Why the Astros Will Lose

Because Norris can't seem to get out of the 6th. He hasn't recorded an out in the 6th inning yet this season, needing 82 pitches, 106 pitches, and 86 pitches to finish his outings (needing 82 pitches to get eight outs against the Phillies on the 9th).

Because after going 12-3 against Cincinnati in 2008, the Reds took 12 of 16 from Houston in 2009. If it wasn't for a Wandy win on September 27, the Reds would have won the last ten games versus Houston.

Because the Reds have six righties in the lineup, and Norris has allowed RHBs to hit .303/.343/.424 this season - though with a .455 BABIP.

Lineups for G19: Astros v. Reds

Here's your Astros lineup for tonight:

1. Bourn - CF
2. Keppinger - 2B
3. Lee - LF
4. Berkman - 1B
5. Pence - RF
6. Blum - 3B
7. Towles - C
8. Manzella - SS
9. Norris - P

And here's your Reds lineup:

1. Stubbs - CF
2. Phillips - 2B
3. Votto - 1B
4. Rolen - 3B
5. Bruce - RF
6. Cabrera - SS
7. Gomes - LF
8. Hanigan - C
9. Harang - P

Astros For Sale and other non-issues

I missed this from last Friday, but Jon Heyman put this in his column:

Outgoing Padres owner John Moores is seen by some as a potential buyer of the Houston Astros, whose owner, Drayton McLane, is willing to at least field offers to sell the team. Moores has moved to Houston after the divorce that caused him to sell San Diego.

However. Fox26 got Moores to discount that rumor:

"I think the world of Drayton McLane and the Astros, but there's nothing to it. We've had no discussions whatsoever."

Mark Berman:

Moores pointed out to FOX 26 that he has always maintained a residence in his home town. Moores, who is selling the Padres to former Diamondbacks managing general partner Jeff Morrad, is still in control of his franchise. Moores said he plans to continue as chairman of the Padres for a maximum of four more years. He said that his role with the team could end sooner if Moorad accelerates his payments, which is entirely up to Moorad.

So the Astros aren't for sale. But they're not not for sale.

Does Heyman really think that a guy who just sold the Padres because of a divorce has the $600m+ to buy the Astros?

One last Power Ranking

I almost ignored it. I really did. But CBS Sports' Larry Dobrow filed his Power Rankings today, and he just isn't seeing what we're seeing. And he's already got Brad Mills on a new job hunt.

Astros: 26th
I don't care what this team did last week. They remain bad -- not mediocre, bad -- at most facets of the game. Just look who they've been playing before you start dreaming dynastic dreams ... On the other hand, the schedule stays manageable (Reds/Braves/Diamondbacks/Padres) for the next few weeks ... I do love me some Brad Mills, though, who's steady and smart. Hopefully he'll eventually land in a happier, more manageable situation, much as Manny Acta did.

Bold statements abound

Cardinals blog Redbird Rants did an interview with Tomahawk Talk, and discussed a number of things about baseball, naturally. But check this out:

Tomahawk Talk:
Returning to the Cardinals and their division, how do you see the NL Central shaping up? What’s your projected order-of-finish for the NL Central?

Redbird Rants:
The Cards should cruise to the division title by August. After that, it’s a jumble of mediocre teams. I’ll go with the Cubs to finish second because they have the talent to do so. But Chicago is also somewhat of a mess. Cincinnati should hang around with their young talent and Milwaukee and Pittsburgh should be competitive. The Astros are already planning for 2011.

Consider this bus turned around

Bernardo Fallas says the Astros have turned it around. Right?

“Right now. I mean, we started 0-8, and now we're within two games of .500. That's turning it around, in my opinion.”

"We're feeling better as a team with pitching, hitting and defense. We worked on it all the way around. The more you take care of business in all three facets of the game, the better you are. We're putting everything together, and we're winning games.”

More Berkman:
“Obviously, we're not happy being a sub-.500 team, but this is not a sub-.500 ballclub. With the talent we have, there's no way. We're going to be over .500; we just need to see how much farther we can get and keep pushing. These guys are going to continue to improve at the plate, and our starting pitching is going to be the key. If our starting pitching continues to throw the ball like they have, we're going to be an awful tough team.”

Jerome Solomon just blew our collective minds

In a column discussing how, three weeks into the season, the Astros are one streaky team, we're left confused:

When the real Astros stand up, just where in between they will be is the difficult question.

How do you get off to an 0-8 start?

Weak hitting, poor pitching and substandard defense.

How do you recover to win three consecutive series and seven of eight games?

Consistently solid pitching, clutch hitting and good defense.

Note: Pitching comes first.

The Astros are 7-2 when they have scored four or more runs and only 1-8 when held to three or fewer.

But the key to their turnaround has come from the mound...

...It is impressive that the Astros are 8-10 with an offense that is near the bottom of the National League in power numbers.

You should be excited about this stretch, but let's not forget that squad from the first week and a half of April was wearing Astros colors too.

It'll be back.

In the meantime, it's not a roller-coaster ride until it goes back down again, so feel free to jump on.

For now, even if they aren't for real, these are the real Astros.

Eddie's Farm: April 26

Round Rock

Both games of a doubleheader with Iowa were rained out.


Jack Shuck hit a walk-off double, scoring Marcos Cabral, and defeating Midland 3-2. Tyler Lumsden threw 4IP, 6H/1ER, 1K:1BB. Danny Meszaros got in and out of a jam in the 8th and 9th, allowing 1ER on 3H/1BB, but striking out four and getting both the blown save and the win. Koby Clemens had two hits with a double and an RBI, while Shuck saved the only other XBH for the 9th inning.

Man of the Match: Jack Shuck


That's the Dallas Keuchel we all know and love! 7IP, 6H/2ER, 7K:0BB and his first win of the season as the JetHawks defeat High Desert 6-2. Albert Cartwright was 3x4, while David Flores (HR), Federico Hernandez, and Brandon Wikoff had two hits each. Jay Austin got himself a 2-run single, as well.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel


Ouch. Taking a 6-1 lead into the 8th inning, Jose Trinidad and Mike Schurz gave up four runs each, leading to an 8-6 loss to Greenville. Jose Cisnero deserved better, allowing 1H/0ER, 5K:4BB in 6IP before it all went to hell. Lexington was 2x13 w/RISP, though they still got ten hits - two each from Altuve, Mier, Goebbert, and Hogue. Goebbert had two doubles and two RBI on the night. Our boy Aaron Bray was 1x4 with a run.

Man of the Match: Jose Cisnero

Monday, April 26, 2010

Power Rankings!

Apparently five wins last week was worth five spots.

Hardball Talk:
Astros - 25th
Lance Berkman coming back made this team look a lot more respectable.

Astros - 25th
The Astros averaged 2.3 runs per game without Lance Berkman. Since his return from the DL, they are averaging 5.3.

Astros - 20th
"The Astros are 8-2 after their 0-8 start. Sure, three of those wins came against the scuffling Pirates, but with Lance Berkman back in the lineup the 'Stros are on an undeniable tear. They don't play a team that's currently over .500 until the Padres at the end of next week, so there's no reason to think it can't continue for a least a bit longer."

Sporting News:
Astros - 21st
Houston roared out of last place in this poll by winning seven of eight, against the Cubs, Marlins and Pirates. Lance Berkman's return to the lineup has helped.

Oswalt to rejoin Astros on Tuesday

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Drayton has offered use of his personal plane to Oswalt and his wife to return to the team in order to become a champion at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds. Roy is scheduled to start on Thursday.

Berkman kind of shy about talking about how he dominates the Reds

Berkman's getting uncomfortable talking about how comfortable he is at the plate when the Reds are in the other dugout.

"There's a comfort level when you know you've had success against a team in the past, and it gives you more confidence going into a game and a series. So much of this game is mental, and this could give you a little boost...

...I think a lot of it has to do with the pitching over the years. They've always had a lot of right-handed pitching and not a lot of left-handed pitching, and I'm a much better left-handed hitter than I am a right-handed hitter. I think it's a combination of factors. Statistical anomalies abound in the game. Everybody has one team they do well against and a couple they don't hit very well. I can't explain it more than that."

Arroyo, on facing Berkman:
"He hits anything down and away, which is your safe zone for most guys if you want to stay off their power. He hits that ball to the opposite way with so much juice. He's impossible to pitch to sometimes. You hope you can get inside on him but sometimes he'll jump you there and hit you out of the park. You try to make perfect pitches every time you face him."

Berkman, on the ruckus:
"I'm sure they're tired of hearing about it, and I certainly don't like to have it mentioned, even though it is every time we face them,"

Make sure you check in tomorrow as we have more, improved discussion topics, and the G19 preview!

The Unwritten Rules

FSH's David Dalati codifies the unwritten rules of baseball, in reference to the Dallas Braden/A-Rod dustup, with A-Rod running over the mound.

A few Astros players that were asked about the incident believe that Braden probably overreacted. But they all agree Rodriguez should not have crossed the mound.

Phil Garner:
“Call Nolan Ryan and ask him what he would have done if somebody ran across the mound like that. If he realized they were going to cross that rubber, they may have made it to their second step before they would have been decked.”

“Whatever the activity is, if it’s perceived as being disrespectful to the opposition, then it’s taboo. There are consequences, or at least there used to be consequences when people violate those rules.”

On an episode in San Francisco:
“We had a standing policy that on a 3-1 or 3-2 count, we were supposed to run. It was a 3-2 count; we were up by 5 or 6 runs. I didn’t get the hold sign from the third base coach so I took off running. My next at bat I got hit in the leg.”

Updates to come

Check back in around lunchtime for all your Astros updates since yesterday evening. Real life is getting in the way...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More good news

Though Roy's parents' house was destroyed everyone is okay:

Meanwhile Sunday, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt was driving a bucket loader, trying to knock down a damaged tree near his parents' home in Choctaw County. His black Cadillac Escalade was parked outside what remained of his parents' now-decimated home.

His father, Billy Oswalt, had been out hunting when the storm hit. The pitcher's mother, Jean, hunkered down in the house with the family's dog.

"She got our little dog and covered up and she's okay," Billy Oswalt said.

The Oswalts' home sat across the street from Sullivan's store. The twister apparently followed the road away from the house and made its way over a grove of pine trees. Most of the trees in the twister's path had the tops hacked off about eight feet above the ground, as though someone had sawed through them. After that, it slammed into three mobile homes.

Good news: Jakubauskas out of the hospital

So good news comes in the form of Chris Jakubauskas leaving the hospital and flying with the team to Milwaukee.

"Not the best thing that can happen to you. I'm lucky it got me in a place where it didn't do too much damage. Right now, I'm tired and woozy. The pain has gone down. The headache has gone away, pretty much."

Jakubauskas, on Berkman and the medical team at Minute Maid:
"I told him no apology was needed. It was a nice gesture on his part. He's a class act...

...The Houston [medical] people treated me real well. They got me to the hospital quick. I would like to thank them."

Let's ease up on this "hapless Astros" talk

The University of Pitt's daily newspaper, Pitt News, has some derogatory things to say about the Astros, even in light of the last three games:

In baseball news, the Pittsburgh Pirates have just hit the annual spring snag that will once again send them spiraling into the abyss that is last place. I had high hopes for this year’s team — ok, modest hopes — and the recent series with the Milwaukee Brewers demolished any optimistic thoughts that I had. Being outscored 36-1 is embarrassing enough, but follow that up with a sweep at the hands of the hapless Houston Astros is just too much. I hope the management decides to care sometime soon.

It takes some revisionist history to call a team that has won eight of their last ten (against the Cubs, Marlins, and Pirates) "hapless." Take it out on your ownership, but you're about ten days late on the "hapless" talk.

Gervacio up, Lopez down

You probably already know this, but just so it's in the archives after a self-imposed little break, Sam Gervacio has been activated from the DL and optioned Wilton Lopez back to Round Rock.

This is interesting, as Jeff Fulchino is the one with the team-high 7.50 ERA, while Lopez' sits at 4.50. Granted, we're talking about six innings for each, but it seemed like Lopez was feeling it, while Fulchino has struggled lately.

Berkman has a little knee scare

Which, in turn, gives us palpitations. Berkman hyperextended his knee in the 8th inning of G18 today.

"Really, it's because I don't have as much strength in that quad as I do in the other one. It's no big deal. It's not any kind of lingering thing. It really scared me more than anything else. It really wasn't that painful, but I wanted to be careful running down the line until I was sure everything was OK."

"He's fine. He kind of stumbled [out of the box] because he felt like he might have [hyperextended the knee], but after he got back to the dugout he felt he was fine, and he says he's fine now."

Recap for G18: Astros v. Pirates

Well well. That's a sweep. And it's also the first time the Astros have put up double digits in runs scored, but they also gave up 14 hits - more on that later. A 10-3 win over Pittsburgh is the Astros' eighth win in their last ten games.

Why They Won
Big extra-base hits! Lance homered, Carlos Lee tripled (!), Towles and Manzella doubled (that was Manzella's first XBH of his career). And we would be remiss to not mention that the Astros stole six bases. One each by Feliz, Lee (!!), and Pence, and three by Bourn meant that the Astros were 6-for-6 in stolen bases. Brett Myers also threw 6IP, allowing 11 hits, but just two earned runs, with six strikeouts and one walk.

Astros Pitching

Myers611/26:191-58 (63.7%)17/10
Sampson11/00:013-8 (61.5%)2/1
Byrdak12/11:021-13 (61.9%)5/2
Fulchino10/01:011-7 (63.6%)0/4

The Pirates were 4x13 w/RISP. Against Myers, they were 3x12 - and the runs that scored were via single and fielder's choice. And following in the line of Myers' record through the order:

1st time: 5x9
2nd time: 2x8, BB
3rd time: 4x9

Now this is wild. Because, with Myers' 11 hits allowed, he has allowed the most hits in the National League - 35. Only six pitchers have allowed 30 hits (Rodrigo Lopez, John Lannan, Homer Bailey, Doug Davis, and Jon Niese), but Myers has the lowest ERA of all of them (3.81) except for Niese's 3.68. He has the lowest WHIP by 0.17, mainly because he's only walked four batters in 113 plate appearances.

Astros hitting

Ten hits. Eight walks - Bourn drew three and Keppinger drew two. 179 pitches seen (54.4% for strikes). Carlos Lee batted 3rd, and went 2x5 with 2RBI and 2R scored. Lee/Berkman/Pence/Feliz went a combined 7x18 with 2BB. Astros hitters took the first pitch for a ball in 25 of their 42 plate appearances.

And with Pence's 2x5 day, he's now hitting above the Mendoza Line (.209).

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman - 26 pitches in five PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Feliz - 17 pitches in five PAs

Man of the Match: How about this? Carlos Lee! 2x5 with 2RBI.

Goat of the Game: It's hard to give this to a guy who threw a quality start and got his first win since May 22, 2009 (at Yankee Stadium), but 11 hits are a lot.