Saturday, May 15, 2010

Berkman and Cushing, a contradictory love story

Bernardo Fallas talked to Lance about Brian Cushing, who, I guess, plays football or something.

“You never know exactly what the circumstances are that made him test positive. Until (you do), you have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.”

Now, that's awfully sweet. Because Lance hasn't always been so kind about athletes testing positive for PEDs.

Like his reaction to Sammy Sosa:
"That's not that surprising at all. There are just certain guys that you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit."

Or Manny:
“It wouldn't surprise me if he (Manny) was on steroids. It's sad to say, but that's the way I feel about it. I wasn't surprised. I think that anybody that makes the game look clownish is under suspicion because it's just not that easy. It's unfortunate that here we go again with another round of steroid questions..."

Or A-Rod:
"I don't feel the least bit sorry for him. If you do something like that, you're going to pay the piper eventually. I'm sure his teammates will be right there for him like we would for anybody on our team. But you make your bed, you've got to lay in it."

So this vow of open-mindedness is a touch inconsistent...

Oswalt's little dig at Lincecum

Fallas' Notes Column sees a number of items, including one in which the Astros are ordering Oswalt a replica of his 2005 NLCS MVP trophy that was damaged by the tornadoes this spring.

Oswalt, on facing Lincecum for the second time, and the career path of Timmy:
"He's pretty good; he's going to be real good. The first year when he came up, he found the ball pretty well. The first couple of years he had fastball and curveball, and now he's added the changeup and made him a little bit better. The biggest test is over and over and over through 200 innings every year, and see if he holds up. Three or four years of it is a little different than seven or eight years of it.”

Reaction to G35: Astros @ Giants

McTaggart has some reaction from last night's corn-cobbing:

"It's a bad day. Nothing was working well today. It was a really bad day. I tried to do the best I could do."

Note: That's not good.

"The thing was he was getting ahead of guys. I don't know how many times he got ahead of guys 1-2 and he wasn't able to put them away. That was the big issue, more than anything else."

Note: I do. Paulino got the count to two strikes 14 times: the Giants were 4x12, 7K:2BB

"He just never found a consistent rhythm. He came out and wasn't quite as sharp with his offspeed pitches and got behind in some counts, and then he had two innings or maybe three that he rolled right through. Then he fell back into that slot. We missed some 0-2 pitches, 1-2 pitches when we had some guys and maybe caught too much plate with them to good hitters. Sometimes you get away with them and sometimes you don't, and we definitely didn't get away with them tonight. Seems like every mistake or missed spot or bad selection on my part, it hurt us...

..."He's right on the brink of just taking off, I think. He's pumping 96, 97 [mph], and with the offspeed pitches that he has, he's real close. You just hate to see that one big inning -- three runs the first time and then mows them down for a couple of innings and gives up three runs again. Finding that rhythm is the biggest key for him."

"You always kind of want to get that first game and not really pay attention to the others. The first game of the series is the most important to try to get a little leverage, a little momentum and especially to keep the momentum we had from the Cardinals series. It didn't work out tonight. Seemed like everything they touched found its hole and sometimes it goes like that, and the score represented that."

Recap for G35: Astros @ Giants

So I guess we're back to Opening Day. The Astros got rickrolled by the Giants, once again, 8-2.

Why They Lost

Because Felipe Paulino needed 100 pitches to get 14 outs - and in between allowed eight hits and walked four batters, with two wild pitches. And because the Astros only had four PAs with RISP, and got one hit.

Astros Pitching

Paulinio4.28/77:4100-60 (60%)16/15
Chacin1.12/01:023-16 (69.6%)2/2
Moehler10/00:116-8 (50%)4/1
Fulchino12/11:016-10 (62.5%)1/4

Jeebus, Paulino. Let's look at the pitch counts that Paulino let the Giants see:

Swinging at the first pitch: 5 (0x4, sac)
First-pitch ball: 8 (3x7, 2K:2BB)
First-pitch strike: 18 (5x12, 5K:2BB)

Of Paulino's four walks, three came with two strikes, and the other one came after a first-pitch strike. What do you do with this guy? McTaggart pointed out that the Astros have lost 14 of Paulino's last 15 starts. One start after throwing arguably the best game of his career, he comes out and does this - where he throws a game resulting in his worst game score of the season. In 10.2IP on the road this season, he has allowed 14H/12ER, 10K:7BB.

Astros hitting

They just got beat. Here's the breakdown:

Called strikes: 32
Swinging strikes: 6
Foul balls: 18
In-play strikes: 26

So they made contact on 44 pitches, swung and missed on just six.

Your 0-fers for the night: Keppinger (0x3), Lee (0x4), Manzella (0x3), Cash (0x3)

Houston got multi-hit games from Berkman (2x4, RBI) and Pence (3x4, HR), with Bourn and Paulino getting the two other hits. So the Astros have three regular starters hitting under .220: Feliz (.217), Lee (.192), Manzella (.184).

Following up on the numbers Pence has put up since getting benched on May 7, we can update that to a seven-game hitting streak, he's now 11x25, with four homers/two doubles, and eight RBI and has raised his average 42 points.

Pitch Count Hero: Manzella (0x3, BB) - 23 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Feliz (0x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs.

Man of the Match: Hunter Pence!

Goat of the Game: Felipe Paulino!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oswalt doesn't want to get traded to a team that's like the Astros

In McTaggart's follow-up piece on Oswalt's MLB Network interview where he said he'd waive his no-trade clause, it does come with a qualification:

Oh, yeah, there would be only certain teams that I would want to go to. I don't want to get traded and get put in the same situation that we're in right now. I would want to go to a contender that's a true contender, not someone that just kind of has a chance, a far chance to get there, you know, if every card was played right you'd make it. I would want to go to a contender. You know, I only have this year and next year on the contract so hopefully try to get a ring before that one's over."

That's so sweet, and diplomatic, and kind of him...

Eddie's Farm: May 13

Round Rock

Wesley Wright extended his record to 2-0 as the Express beat the Bees, 5-4, and that's five wins in their last six games. Wright threw 5.1IP, 5H/3ER, 4K:5BB in kind of a sloppy game. Gervacio gave up the 4th Salt Lake run, while Evan Englebrook and Casey Daigle threw two scoreless IP. Chris Shelton and Drew Meyer each had three hits - with Shelton hitting a 2-run homer. Matt Kata and Jason Castro had your other multi-hit games, both going 2x4. In his last six games, Castro is hitting .391 (9x23).

Man of the Match: Chris Shelton


The Hooks jumped all over Frisco for a 10-3 win. Jordan Lyles went 7IP, 6H/1ER, 6K:2BB for his third win of the season, while Henry Villar allowed to 2ER to blow up his ERA to 1.37. The Hooks were 8x17 w/RISP, and Shuck led the way with a 3x6 day (a homer short of the cycle) and 4RBI, while Duran, Gaston, Florentino, and Sutil each had two hits. Towles was 0x3, but with two walks, and Clemens was the only Hook to not get on base.

Man of the Match: Jack Shuck


Rancho Cucamonga owns Lancaster. The JetHawks were swept to drop their record to 3-8 against the Quakes with a 5-4 loss. Brad Dydalewicz gave up 8H/4ER, 1K:4BB in 5IP, but Ashton Mowdy took the loss by allowing the Quakes' 5th run in the 8th. Dydalewicz ERA currently sits at 10.72, and in his six starts for the JetHawks, he hasn't made it into the sixth, and allowed fewer than four ER just twice. His K:BB ratio is currently 13:16. Josh Flores was 2x4 with 2RBI, while Brandon Wikoff and Brandon Barnes got on base twice.

Man of the Match: Josh Flores


Kody Hinze hit a two-run shot in the 10th to give the Legends a 7-5 win over Asheville. Juan Minaya threw 5IP, 6H/4ER, 1K:3BB, while Arcenio Leon (2IP, 5K), Jose Trinidad (2IP, 1BB), and Kirk Clark (1IP, 0H/0BB) held it down. Jiovanni Mier was 2x5 with 2RBI, while Hinze's homer was his second hit of the game.

Man of the Match: Kody Hinze

Roy joins Lance in the desire to get traded for the good of the organization

Just as we all suspected, Roy says he would be open to waiving his no-trade clause.

On MLB Network Radio, Roy said:
"When you get to a point where you need to start rebuilding they're going to start with a guy that's got a lot of value, and I understand that if I'm throwing well that they maybe can get two or three guys that can fill holes that they need."

Ken Davidoff was all over this on Twitter last night, saying:
You can bet Oswalt would have interest in joining White Sox, due to friendship with Peavy, although ChiSox need hitting more.

And also tweeting that Oswalt would likely accept a trade to the Mets.

In this mid-April Rumblings & Grumblings by Jayson Stark, Oswalt's Unnamed Friend says he would be interested in going to Atlanta, St. Louis, or Texas.

Norris works out those mechanics

Bernardo Fallas' Notes column has a note about the tinkering Arnsberg and Norris have been doing:

“I've been sloppy and getting behind the count and walking a lot of guys. (Thursday) the biggest thing for me was I didn't walk anybody...

...My arm slot has been really low. I've been letting the ball ride and getting a lot of movement on my fastball and not being able to control it. I've been staying back on my back leg and getting my arm up, and it's made a difference.”

About that pop-up...

Turns out Carpenter is kind of a douche. Derrick Goold's article on yesterday's game has the following:

Three times this season, Carpenter (4-1), the Cardinals' ace whose temper can be as sharp as a fastball, has barked at opponents. On Thursday, he took issue with Lee's loud curse and showy slap of his bat after popping up to shortstop. Brad Penny had a similar exchange with Houston leadoff hitter Michael Bourn earlier this season, arguing the hitter shouldn't act like he could "hit it out of the park."

"Routinely now, hitters pop up a pitch they think they can do something with and they start making noises, and that is really disrespectful to the pitcher. Most pitchers turn around and ignore it. Carp doesn't."

Carlos Lee:
He was staring at me. For what? I guess he's allowed to yell and say anything he wants. … He can get emotional and, as a hitter, we can't get emotional?"

"I guess it's turned into we're all supposed to be best friends in this game. … There's no need for it."

Bernardo Fallas has this:

“I was (upset), but I wasn't trying to show him up. I didn't even look at him. I was mad at myself. When Lance got a hit, (Carpenter) was yelling and screaming, saying all kinds of things. So he can get emotional, but as a hitter I can't? Why?”

And the Belleville News-Democrat tells this:

"Pence hits the ball out of the ballpark. Carp didn't make a good pitch. Carp doesn't say a word. He doesn't say anything to the guy that hit it. It's his mistake. Well, routinely now, hitters pop up a pitch they think they should deal with and they start making noises, and that really is disrespectful to the pitcher. Most of the pitchers just turn around and ignore it. Carp doesn't. I think Carp's right, and I think Carp's in the right. Respect should go both ways...

...If he gets you out, he gets you out. Zip it and go back to the plate. If he gives it up, you zip it and let the guy go around the bases -- or single, double, whatever it was. Most pitchers let the guy jabber. I don't think Carlos Lee is anything special as far as a guy who disrespects, but it's so common now. Carp will let you know."

There you have it. Chris Carpenter: The White Knight of Respect. I bet he and Dallas Braden have a secret handshake.

Berkman says weird things

In Rick Hummel's "What-the-heck-happened" recap of the St. Louis-Houston series, Berkman says some strange things:

"I don't think our two eight-game losing streaks are indicative of the talent that we have. I still think we have a good team. We may not have the best team in the National League but we've got a much better team than the 13-21 (the worst mark in the league) that we are. I think it's an early-season anomaly...

...We just haven't played very well. Our pitching has been OK, but our offense has been awful. I think you could make a case that we have a really good team. And you could also make a case that we're over the hill and may not do anything."

On the Cardinals:

"They're definitely the class of the division. First of all, they're the reigning champions. And second of all, they're probably a better team this year than they were last year with the addition of (Matt) Holliday for a whole season, and (Brad) Penny is unbelievable.

It just kind of irks me that every year, they find a guy that wins 15 games that anybody could have signed. Everybody should have known that about Brad. He's always been a great pitcher, with tremendous stuff. What did he sign for ($7.5 million guaranteed)? That, to me, could be the bargain of the year."

J.D. Martinez: 20th Round Hero

Nice little profile on 20th Round pick J.D. Martinez:

On his mindset going into the season:
"I didn't really know what to expect last year when I signed. I was coming from a Division II school, and I was just hoping I'd be able to compete with some of these guys who were coming out of the big schools. Once I realized I could compete, I started hitting the ball."

On going forward:
"I felt like I had something to prove last year because I was drafted late. I know I have to continue to put up numbers to become a prospect in the Astros' eyes. I think the way I've been playing, they're thinking I might be for real and that they should keep an eye on me."

I can't think of a reason that the Astros wouldn't be keeping an eye on him. In 34 games this season, Martinez is 49x141 with 16XBH-31RBI. He's hitting .348/.396/.539 with 20K:8BB.

The Cardinals stare at their feet and try to explain Bud's dominance

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat asked the Cardinals why they struggle against Bud Norris. This is fun:

“I can’t tell you. I don’t have any explanation for it...I don’t know. I think everyone can see obviously he’s faced us four times and he’s pitched lights out every time. We haven’t really managed anything off of him. There’s got to be a little bit of a confidence factor for him, knowing that he’s pitched well against us in the past and you saw that today. The start of the game…he was throwing 93-94, but by the fourth-fifth inning, all of a sudden it was 95-96 - you could see the confidence building from inning to inning and we couldn’t string anything together.”

“For some reason he’s not doing so well against other teams but he’s doing pretty well against us."

“He’s getting lucky. That’s just my opinion. The last game, there were some questionable pitch calling behind the plate. This game, he just got us. We hit some balls right at some guys. You have just as good of an idea as me, you watched the game just like I did. I don’t know.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recap for G34: Astros @ Cardinals

Well, that was surprising. This is easily the most surprising sweep of the Cardinals since July 2009, when the Astros did it last. The Astros defeat the Cardinals, 4-1. And that's four in a row.

Why They Won

Because Bud Norris owns the Cardinals. He threw a career-high 8IP, didn't walk anybody, and the Astros got five hits out of Keppinger and Berkman.

Astros Pitching

Norris86/18:099-65 (65.7%)14/15
Lindstrom10/01:118-8 (44.4%)4/1

Norris continues his dominance over the Cardinals. Let's look. Today was Norris' seventh start of the season. In the five starts against teams not in St. Louis, this is the line: 21.1IP, 28H/22ER, 24K:17BB. Against the Cardinals: 13IP, 12H/1ER, 17K:3BB.

Interestingly enough, Norris got 12 groundball outs, and three flyball outs. In his last outing against the Padres on May 7, Norris got one groundball. All game. So the tinkering of mechanics with Arnsberg - for one game - has paid off.

Astros hitting

The hit that made the most news on the tweet line was that not one that actually resulted in a hit. Carlos Lee popped up a Carpenter pitch, and slammed his bat to the ground. Carpenter and Lee exchanged words (similar to when Bourn and Penny exchanged words for the same thing), and the benches emptied. No punches were thrown, but words were spoken. Later we'll look at a dust-up that changed 2004, but this is a good sign. Carlos Lee didn't do anything today, but go 0x3 with a walk. His batting average has now settled back under .200 at .198.

Pence was the one who got everything really started - and iced - after Berkman singled in Bourn. Pence took the 8th pitch of the AB in the 3rd to centerfield for a three-run homer off Carpenter. This happened immediately after Lee popped up, so this "playing angry" thing seems to be paying off. So I will commence blogging angry, in response.

Otherwise, it was a little bit more of the same for those struggling. Feliz was 0x3 to drop his line to .225/.244/.306, Matsui was 0x4 to drop his average to .164/.227/.180. The only one who should be happy about this is Tommy Manzella, who is unbelievably an upgrade over Matsui. I would imagine that, under normal circumstances (no day games following night games), Keppinger will slide over to second.

Pitch Count Hero: Bourn (0x3, BB) - 18 pitches in four PAs.
Pitch Count Punk: Berkman (3x4) - 8 pitches in four PAs. Though he did get on base three times, so it's not always a bad thing.

Man of the Match: Have to give it to Norris, who hadn't made it into the 6th all season.

Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui. This is embarrassing. He saw 17 pitches, only four for balls.

Berkman's unnamed friend now doesn't think he'll go anywhere

In Jayson Stark's Rumblings and Grumblings column today, we hear back from Berkman's Unnamed Friend, who now isn't so sure Lance would waive anything:

"Lance doesn't want to go anywhere. Would he go somewhere for two months with a chance to win? Like I said before, absolutely. But I think he forgets he's got [a club] option. So it might not be two months. He might be gone for a year and two months. So unless the club wants to agree not to pick up the option or something, that's the only way I'd see him waiving it. But then, if you take that away, and it's only for two months, why would anybody give anything up for him? That's why I say he's not going anywhere."

Sounds like Berkman's Unnamed Friend has a lot of baseball knowledge there...

Lineup for G34: Astros v. Cardinals

Here's your lineup as the Astros and Bud Norris/Mr. Hyde take on the Cardinals for the sweep:

Michael Bourn CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Lance Berkman 1B
Carlos Lee LF
Hunter Pence RF
Pedro Feliz 3B
Kaz Matsui 2B
Humberto Quintero C
Bud Norris P

Manzella gets the day off to watch Jeff Keppinger do his job.

Wandy tips the cap to Arnsberg

In Fallas' G33 recap, he quotes a happy Wandy Rodriguez:

“I felt comfortable thanks to the early runs, and I say thank you to my teammates and to my pitching coach (Brad Arnsberg), too, because he helped me a lot with my mechanics. I used (his suggestions) today and I felt comfortable.”

“It was nice to get (Rodriguez) that many runs and get him started. Because he came out throwing the ball so well. He was pounding the zone with everything.”

Recap for G33: Astros @ Cardinals

So this is what "getting the big hit" looks like. For the second game in a row, the Astros took advantage of opportunities after giving up the first run of the game on their way to a 9-6 win over St. Louis. The Astros have scored 19 runs in this three-game winning streak, the same number of runs they scored between April 27 and May 8 - 12 games.

Why They Won

The Astros took advantage of a pretty bad outing by Kyle Lohse - and two more errors by Brendan Ryan (who now has four errors in these two games against the Astros) - and Wandy was effective enough to get a win.

Astros Pitching

Wandy65/4 (5R)3:294-58 (61.7%)12/6
Sampson11/00:121-13 (61.9%)2/0
Lopez1.22/12:023-17 (73.9%)0/0
Lindstrom0.11/00:04-3 (75%)0/1

Wandy only threw a first-pitch strike to eight of the 26 batters he faced, but the Cardinals fouled a lot of his pitches off. Of Wandy's 94 pitches, the Cardinals fouled off 21 of them. For comparison, the Astros fouled off 16 pitches all night.

But let's talk about Chris Sampson right quick. Sampson gave up an earned run against the Giants back in G1. And a run against the Braves on May 1. And that's it. So in 15 appearances this season Sampson has faced 58 batters, recorded 44 outs, and allowed two baserunners to score.

Astros hitting

Congratulations to Pedro Feliz, whose infield single in the second was the 1000th time he had been able to get to first base before the ball.

The Astros spotted the Cardinals a run on Keppinger's error in the 1st, but Carlos Lee's sac fly scored Wandy to tie it up in the 3rd, and broke it open in the 4th. Thanks to Brendan Ryan's error, Quintero was safe at first base following up Feliz' second hit of the night. With two outs in the 4th, Keppinger hit a bases-clearing double and Berkman hit a 2-run homer to right - his second homer this series. These five runs were unearned for Mr. Lohse. All of these were unearned runs - and the Astros have scored nine unearned runs in the last two games.

That said, the Astros were still 3x13 w/RISP - with three hits coming from Bourn, Keppinger, and Berkman.

Pitch Count Hero: Quintero (1x5) and Manzella (0x4, BB) - 22 pitches in five PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Lee (1x3, BB) - 9 pitches in four PAs

Man of the Match: Lance Berkman. He had the home run, but also walked four times, getting on base in all five plate appearances, raising his OBP from .293 to .338.

Goat of the Game: Tommy Manzella. Come on, man. An 0x4 night (albeit with a walk) means that he's now hitting .190/.233/.250. And two of those ABs came with runners in scoring position, and he left five on base by himself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Byrdak update

Late afternoon Byrdak from Alyson Footer:

He has an irritation of the L5 disc in his back. He'll remain in Houston until Friday, when he will receive an injection and he'll then fly to SF to rejoin the team."

Bernardo Fallas says the DL stint will last more than 15 days.

The Houstonist has an idea

Hey, let's trade Hunter Pence!

The party line from the national media tells us that the Astros have a horrible minor league organization, but in reality, minor league director Bobby Heck has done a fantastic job of cleaning up Tim Purpura's mess by drafting and signing talented players, most of whom are in A or AA ball currently. The upper reaches of the minors are still a wasteland, though. A trade for prospects at this level would make the 2011 and 2012 Astros much deeper than the current team.

Like it or not, Pence is the best major league trading chip that the Astros have right now. The question is whether the organization is willing to part ways with a player that they've prematurely crowned the next king of the franchise. Oh, the weeping and wailing, the gnashing of radio teeth that will result if Pence is shipped out. The good news is that the real heir apparent is still here, and his name is Michael Bourn.

Is that how that works? A trade for AA/AAA prospects would make the organization deeper? Hm. Never would have thought that...

Keep an eye on this Jesse Biddle

Germantown Friends (PA) High School has this 6'5" 235-pound LHP named Jesse Biddle. And the Astros have been at a lot of his games.

He has noticed four teams in attendance at his games most regularly: the Phillies, Angels, Yankees, and Astros:
"I think those teams are the most interested in me."

Unnamed scout:
"He's a 6-5 lefthander. He's got the size everybody is looking for. He's a very genuine and competitive kid who has tremendous poise and maturity for a player his age. When watching him pitch, it's easy to see he's a team player and is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win."

He has hit 94 on the radar gun, and threw a no-hitter last month with a mid-70s curve.

He has signed with Oregon, but could be projected as a 2nd-4th rounder, according to the article.

Lineup for G33: Astros @ Cardinals

Brian McTaggart has your lineup for G33 at Beck's Stadium:

Michael Bourn CF
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Lance Berkman 1B
Carlos Lee LF
Hunter Pence RF
Pedro Feliz 3B
Humberto Quintero C
Tommy Manzella SS
Wandy Rodriguez P

Kaz Matsui sits his cracked rear end down on the bench, as does Blum.

Tranzactionz (from last week)

Should have caught this from last week, but there were some cuts made:

RHP Rafael Pio, LHP Rafael Luna, LHP German Perez, C Max Sapp, OF Mitch Einertson, OF Carlos Reyes, and OF Nestor Santana.

Of course the big name that jumps out is that of Mitch Einertson, who was suspended last year for using a "drug of abuse."

We also named Rafael Pio the GCL Pitcher of the Year.

Byrdak "not getting any better"

Bernardo Fallas' Notes column this morning tells us that Tim Byrdak isn't any closer to returning, having been on the DL since May 4.

“It really hasn’t been getting any better. I’m still getting the radiating pain from the glute down to the hammy and stuff in the back of the knee. Nate did some functional stuff to see kind of where the back is, and he just thinks there’s something else going on there.”

He'll see back specialist Dr. Michael McCann in Houston, the same doctor who treated Roy.

Recap for G32: Astros @ Cardinals

The Cardinals made three errors, and the Astros actually took advantage to score four unearned runs on their way to a 6-3 win over St. Louis. It's just the third time this season they've opened a series with a win.

Why They Won

Timely hitting. Nice defense (Bourn throwing out Schumaker at home). Good pitching.

Astros Pitching

Myers68/23:2103-57 (55.3%)15/8
Fulchino0.12/10:114-8 (57.1%)1/2
Sampson0.20/00:04-2 (50%)0/0
Lyon10/00:015-11 (73.3%)2/1
Lindstrom11/01:013-9 (69.2%)2/2

This was Myers' fourth straight quality start, and since his first start of the season, in which he allowed 4ER in 6IP against the Giants, Myers has thrown 40IP, for a 3.15 ERA / 1.38 WHIP, with 29K:12BB, and the Astros have won four of his seven starts this season. He continues to allow baserunners (10 in G32) - he only threw a first-pitch strike to 10 of 25 batters.

Astros hitting

With the Astros down 2-0 in the top of the 7th, Carlos Lee was safe on a groundout to the shortstop, when Brendan Ryan committed his second throwing error of the game. Pence doubled, and with Manzella's sac fly, Sullivan's pinch-hit single, and Quintero and Bourn's singles, the Astros were up 4-2.

Then, in the 8th, Berkman and Pence both hit the jack to put the game out of reach. It was Berkman's 3rd and Pence's 4th of the season. Since getting benched to open the Padres series on May 7, Pence is 6x12 with two doubles and two homers.

Bourn and Pence had your multi-hit games, and an RBI each, while Berkman, Blum, Manzella, Sullivan, and Quintero added a knock. And yes, the Astros got two pinch-hit RBIs.

Pitch Count Hero: Berkman (1x4) - 18 pitches in four PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Manzella (1x3) - 9 pitches in three PAs

Man of the Match: This is interesting. Myers is certainly deserving. So is Pence. Let's give it to Pence.

Goat of the Game: Kaz Matsui. 0x3 (with an HBP), and ended three innings. He's now hitting .175/.242/.193 - that's an OPS of .435.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nice little profile on Bogusevic

There's a profile by Ryan Metz over at that's worth reading. Some key quotes:

On giving up the whole pitching thing:
"The next day I went out and took batting practice. It was a pretty quick turnover. Right away I had mixed feelings. I can't say I wasn't a bit disappointed. But at the same time I was pretty excited because playing in the outfield and hitting is something I have always enjoyed doing."

On not having a chance to think:
"I definitely feel more comfortable now. I don't like to sit around and dwell on things because I will. As a starting pitcher if I didn't have a good game for four days I'd be mulling it over and getting down on myself. If I have a bad game now I can go out the next day and get a couple hits."

On how he recognizes his good fortune:
"It's definitely a second chance. A lot of guys if they go in as a pitcher and they don't do well they're gone. Having the opportunity to start over and do something, I'm pretty lucky to do that."

Lineup for G32: Astros v. Cardinals

McTaggart has your lineup for G32 tonight!

Michael Bourn CF
Kaz Matsui 2B
Lance Berkman 1B
Carlos Lee LF
Hunter Pence RF
Geoff Blum 3B
Tommy Manzella SS
Kevin Cash C
Brett Myers P

Feliz and Keppinger get the night off...

Adam Madison is still high on Wandy

ESPN Fantasy's Adam Madison thinks Wandy will turn in a decent performance tomorrow night against the Cardinals. Why?

Most of his problems are due to a ridiculously inflated .387 batting average on balls in play. He has a solid 19:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past four starts (23 innings), has had success against the Cards (3.72 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in five starts last season, including a 2.65 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in three starts at Busch Stadium) and the Red Birds just aren't good against left-handed pitching (.657 OPS, 22nd).

So if you have Wandy on your fantasy team (somehow, in my fantasy league, I have all five Astros starting pitchers. I honestly don't know how that happened.) go ahead and throw him.

Backe can't catch a break

Jeebus. Brandon Backe is seriously breaking my heart. And it's because of this post in the Houston Press by Richard Connelly, in which we find out that Backe's Bullpen has closed - before I had a chance to visit the family and belly up to the bar:

(Linking to the Fan Page on Facebook) This is what I found: Apparently, some woman had an accident last week with a child in her car and she told the police that she had just left Backe's Bullpen ... and the rest is history... Backe's was told to either pay a fine or surrender their liquor license so they closed the bar. I wonder what the building will be next??

Connelly notes this can't be confirmed, though throughout the rest of the post, it sounds reasonable.

C70 at the Bat on the upcoming Cardinals/Astros series

Our buddy Dan from C70 at the Bat gave us a little series preview from the Cardinals stand-point. And note the closing sentence, I'll be on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour tomorrow night around 9:45pm, trying not to swear.

Hello, Astros fans! Appreciate James giving me a chance to talk with you again, giving up prime blog estate, if you will, to a lowly Cardinal fan. (Hey, just trying to make sure you don't throw rotten vegetables or sharp objects at me!)

Thought I'd tell you a little about the Cardinal team that you'll be facing this week and what's going on in Cardinal Nation. The biggest discussion point revolves around the offense. I'm pretty sure I hear some of you saying, "Hey, we'd take your problems!" I'm guessing that when you've scored fewer runs than any team in baseball, griping about someone else's offense goes in one ear and out the other.

Still, that's what the Cards are talking about right now. After a series in Philadelphia that they only scored three runs in the last three games, followed by two in Pittsburgh where they only scored four and were shut out--by the Pirates, are you kiddin' me?--there was a lot of discussion about whether things were working or not under the new hitting coach.

Of course, these are the same people that complained earlier in the year that the Cardinals were relying too much on the home run, scoring around 50% or so of their runs via the long ball. Maybe there's something to that, because the Redbirds haven't gone deep since the seventh inning of last Monday's game, 57 innings ago. Then again, they didn't need the homer to beat the Pirates 11-4 in the finale of that Pittsburgh series on Sunday.

Looking at the matchups, this could be a very interesting series. Brett Myers had some bad career numbers against St. Louis before he threw against them last time, but he only gave up two runs in seven when he saw them earlier in the year. Brad Penny has a 1.99 ERA on the season, though his last couple of outings have been more pedestrian (though still good). Might give the slight edge to Penny here, but if Myers pitches the way he did last time, it could easily go either way.

Wednesday, it's Wandy Rodriguez vs. Kyle Lohse. Lohse has been the weak link in an otherwise stellar rotation. While he's shown flashes of his '08 form, for the most part he's struggled, as he did in Philadelphia giving up five runs in four innings. He pitched a good game against Houston earlier in the year, which gives Cardinal fans a little hope. Rodriguez has always been a Cardinal killer, save the game earlier this year when the Cards finally figured him out a bit and Albert Pujols finally tagged him. I see that Rodriguez has been having a rough season so far, but I'd still probably lean toward Houston in this one.

The finale should be a heck of a duel, with Bud Norris going against Chris Carpenter. Y'all all (yes, that's legal Southern, I believe) know Carpenter, though he's probably slipped from co-ace status in the eyes of many St. Louis fans due to the emergence of Adam Wainwright. That's no knock on Carpenter, though. He's still almost as dominant as he always has been. Earlier in the season he wasn't feeling comfortable with his fastball, but seems to have regained it in his last couple of starts. As for Norris, he turns into some combination of Superman and Cy Young when he faces the Cardinals. Still haven't figured that one out, but it should make for a great pitching duel.

It's always good to see the Astros and Cardinals hook up, if for no other reason than I get to work with James again. In fact, you can hear him talk about the series tomorrow night on the UCB Radio Hour, which should just be a blast. I appreciate you hearing me out without incident (we'll ignore those two rotten eggs that were thrown since they missed) and good luck the next few days!

Bourn suspended, will appeal

Michael Bourn has been suspended two games by MLB for bumping umpire Alfonso Marquez last weekend, in addition to being fined. Alyson Footer notes that Bourn will appeal, so the suspension will not begin tonight.

Update from McTaggart, in which there's a quote from Easy Eddie:

"I called Michael this morning to make him aware of the suspension and fine, and he was going to the Players Association to file an appeal. They'll schedule a hearing out of New York at some point in time, either face-to-face or by some type of video conferencing, and until that point comes, Michael will be available...

...We feel the contact was [incidental] and Michael did not intend to bump Alfonso Marquez. We disagree with the severity of the punishment, and hopefully it gets reversed or reduced at some point in time."

Eddie's Farm: May 10

Round Rock

That didn't go well. The Memphis Redbirds scored the final nine runs of the game for a 12-4 win, and a split of the four-game series. Errors by Shelton, Johnson, and Polin Trinidad led to four unearned runs. Trinidad got the start, throwing 5.1IP, 7H/5R (1ER), 4K:2BB, while Sam Gervacio took the loss with 0H/0ER, 2K:2BB in 1.2IP. Jonah Bayliss and Evan Englebrook combined for 8H/7ER, 1K:1BB in 2IP of relief. Chris Johnson was in the lineup for the first time tonight, and went 1x4 with an RBI double, but Matt Kata was 3x4 with an RBI, and Bogusevic continued his hot streak with a 2x4 day.

Man of the Match: Matt Kata

Corpus Christi

Corpus jumped on San Antonio early for a 5-0 lead after two, and rode it out for the 8-1 win. Doug Arguello needed 108 pitches for the complete game, throwing 9IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:2BB and lowering his ERA to 2.93. Big-time offense, including a 4x5, 3-double, 5RBI day from Koby Clemens, and a 3x4 day from Wladimir Sutil. Jack Shuck and Lou Santangelo also had multi-hit games.

Men of the Match: That's right. Plural. Goes to both Clemens and Arguello.


Nice win from Lancaster, who scored the last three runs of the game (including one each in the 8th and 9th) for the 4-3 win over Inland Empire, on Barry Butera's walk-off RBI single - scoring Jordan Comadena, who had led off the inning with a walk. Leandro Cespedes was pulled after 3IP, 5H/3ER, 3K:4BB, but Schurz (3IP), Mowdy (1IP), and Godfrey (2IP) combined for 1H/0ER, 4K:6BB in 6IP. Butera (2x5), Ori (2x2, 2BB), and Barnes (2x4) each had two hits, while Jordan Comadena was 1x1 with 2BB.

Man of the Match: Barry Butera


Despite getting outscored 12-18, Tanner Bushue and Kody Hinze came up big in a 2-1 win to get the series split. Bushue threw 7IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:0BB, while Jose Trinidad threw 1.2IP, 2H/1R (0ER), 2K:0BB and Kirk Clark closed it out for the save, though he gave up the hit that scored Greensboro's run in the top of the 9th. Kody Hinze hit a 2-run jack for his SAL-leading 8th homer, and 33rd RBI of the season. J.D. Martinez was 2x3 to raise his average to .356, while Jiovanni Mier was 0x4 with an error to drop his average to .191.

Man of the Match: Tanner Bushue

Justice's Q&A with Mills

Justice has an interesting Q&A with Brad Mills:

On the second team meeting of the year, in Atlanta:
"There were some things that needed to be addressed that happened in Atlanta. It was a team thing. We had to be pulling together. I still feel that way. We're not going to be able to accomplish a lot of things if we're not pulling for one another and doing things to support one another."

And on what keeps him up at night:
"I don't think it's second guessing as much as thinking, `What can we do now? What needs to happen now?' One of the temptations I'm fighting is not to do too much because we're having problems scoring runs. You don't want to sit back, but you also don't want to do too much and hurt the chances that you do have. There's a balance."

Norris needs some mechanical work

Zach Levine's Notes Column has an update on Bud Norris, who kind of sucks right now:

Nobody was discussing specifics, but Norris has felt out of sorts mechanically and has been working with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to get the feel back. He will carry a 7.52 ERA into his seventh start of the year Thursday — none of his first six lasting longer than five innings — and has allowed 12 runs in his past two starts.

No kidding.

Justice prepares Oswalt's obituary

Richard Justice, who has been awfully active lately, has this note of caution on Roy:

During Sunday's eight-inning, three-run no-decision against San Diego, he got strikeouts on four pitches, and at times, made it look easy. No matter how it plays out, the Astros have been lucky to have him.

And about a trade?
He apparently hasn't asked to be traded, but if the Astros offer to send him to a contender, he would probably jump at the chance. As Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman have diminished, Oswalt is the lone Astro who might be able to fetch a couple of prime prospects.

That kind of decision appears to be weeks away, but if the losing continues, the Astros would be silly to hold on to their most valuable commodity at a time they have so many holes. His departure would signal a full-blown rebuilding project that might take two or three years to complete. It would be stunning to see him wearing another uniform, and a painful reminder of what the Astros once were.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More on this Jean Carlos Batista fella

DPL Baseball has this report on the 17-year old switch-hitting shortstop:

Jean Carlos is 6'2, 175lb, Lg frame, athletic wiry body. The switch hitter shows a compact swing from both sides of the plate, although he has more power from the left side. After 14 weeks in the DPL he's leading Los Potros with a .313 avg. Defensively he shows good foot work and fields the ball cleanly. His arm strength is plus and shows enough range to stay at the position. Jean Carlos ran a 6.9 at our last showcase but has improved his speed during the last few weeks.

Our buddy Street found this SI Teen article about the documentary "Long Hard Road to the Show," in which Batista is mentioned prominently:

Among those on the field is another player featured in the film: Jean Carlos Batista, a 16-year old switch-hitting shortstop whom Jacobo compares to a young Carlos Beltran.

That's nice.

Updated Corpus Christi leaders

Here are your updated leaders at Corpus Christi - remember, hitters are organized by OPS, pitchers by WHIP:

Corpus - hitters (20G minimum)


Corpus - pitchers (minimum five apperances)


Updated Round Rock leaders

Here are your updated leaders at Round Rock - remember, hitters are organized by OPS, pitchers by WHIP:

Round Rock - hitters (20G minimum


Round Rock - pitchers (minimum five apperances)


Rosenthal: Astros "bankrupt"

In an article on Fox Sports, Smilin' Ken Rosenthal speculates on ten players who could be traded, and Lance and Roy come up. Then he calls the Astros "bankrupt." Not in the monetary sense, of course. Just in the intelligence sense:

The Astros are the baseball equivalent of bankrupt. McLane might howl about not getting enough value for either inflated contract. But how about getting creative for a change?

Is Berry's job in question?

John Royal's article for the Houston Press today points out that the Mariners, whose team OPS was almost 40 points higher than the Astros, fired their pitching coach yesterday morning. So what kind of dirt does Sean Berry have on everybody?

The job of Astros hitting coach Sean Berry appears to be safe, even though no team in the majors has a worse on-base percentage. The Berry defenders, and there suddenly appear to be a lot of them in the media, claim that he's not the one responsible for building a club so lacking in offensive talent.

...But at some point, Berry has to work with these guys and get them to start working at actually getting on base, and making a pitcher have to earn a win. And that's something that's just not happening. It's something that's never happened under Berry's watch...Somebody on the team has to get the batters to not swing at everything that comes their way, and the person who should be working with the players on their offensive approach is the hitting coach.

It's a totally valid argument, and I'm not sure how Berry was the only coach retained from 2009, but he was. And the Astros are bad. It's been pointed out - here, and elsewhere - that Berry can do all the BP and video work in the world, but ultimately it's up to the hitters.

Royal notes that Ed Wade should get some heat for signing Feliz and Matsui, instead of Cabrera or Hudson, who traditionally have a high OBP, but Berry is the hitting coach, and ain't nobody hitting.

Week Six Power Rankings!

Hardball Talk:
Astros: 29th
Richard Justice watches this team every day and he says that effort isn't the problem. Just talent. Cold comfort when you're as bad as the Astros are, but I guess it's enough to keep them out of the bottom slot for this week.

Astros: 30th
Even with Sunday's win, they've now lost 11 of 13 and Lance Berkman has said he'd accept a trade and if he were GM, he'd consider blowing the club up. Currently, their best offensive player is Michael Bourn, who's hitting .284/.366/.367. This team isn't just bad; they're hard to watch.

Astros: 30th
Astros pitchers could sure use a little help. Houston is last in the majors in hits, runs, doubles, total bases, RBIs, batting average, walks, on-base percentage and slugging. Oh, and 24th in fielding percentage.

Ed Wade: Because Round Rock sucks, too, we won't do anything

Or something like that:

"Is there some avenue, some solution, we haven't tried yet short of something drastic, which you don't try to do at this point in the season? No. There's no one ready down in Triple-A to come up and be a three-, four-, five-hole hitter, and not a lot is available on the market, and the ones that are available right now you can line up your five or six top prospects and take a run at them. We've got to live through this."

He's right, of course. Brian Bogusevic is hitting .336/.402/.527 this season, and .459/.500/.811 in May, but he's certainly not going to come and take Lee or Pence's spot in the lineup. Wade's right, and I hope Drayton's listening, we have to live through watching this.

Astros sign Dominican prospect

(captip to MLBTR) The Astros have signed Dominican shortstop Jean Carlos Batista, pending MLB approval:

The switch hitting SS has agreed to terms with the Houston Astros, the contract is still pending MLB approval. Batista was a self-proclaimed captain of Los Potros, not by words but by action. He led his team in every offensive category for more than 3/4 of games played, as well as leading the league in avg. His defensive play wasn't over showed by any SS in the DPL making routine plays and flashy tough plays look easy. Batista will be starting his milb career in the Dominican Summer League this June.

More on Batista later this morning.

Justice tries to make you feel better

Richard Justice's new column tries to give you chicken soup and Sprite.

Here it goes. I think these Astros have a chance to be pretty decent this season. I’m guessing we’re not going to see eye to eye on that one...

...The thing is, I’m not convinced their 10-21 record is a reflection of these Astros. As Bill Parcells once said, you are who you are. Maybe so, but there’s more than 80 percent of this season left.

“We tried to have fun and relax. Now we’re going to fight. If an umpire makes a bad call, we’re going to let him know about it.”

“I want to defend their effort. I’m not going to defend how they’re doing, but I want to defend their effort. Do they want to start hitting better? Yes, they do. More and more, I hear people say they’ve never seen them work harder. I try to find the guys, and they’re back there in the cage hitting. They’re doing things to make themselves better, and that’s all we can ask.”

The thing is, they believe. Even if it’s hard for the rest of us to believe, they’re working and caring and doing the things the Astros have done in their best years.

One of the beauties of a baseball season is that it’s so long and tears at a team’s weaknesses in so many ways that we’ll eventually find out if the Astros are as bad as they’ve played.

I believe. I can’t help myself.

Pence, on how he has to play

Hunter Pence has a great quote about his style of play:

"I have to go out there and play angry and play like I'm fighting for my life every time I'm in the batter's box like the way I came up and the way I've always done. A lot of people say relax and have fun, and that's not the way I succeed."

Alfonso Marquez: Kind of a jerk

So we've spent some time talking about umpire Alfonso Marquez who, in the course of two games, ejected Michael Bourn, Brad Mills, and appeared to lose his rag in front of Humberto Quintero.

After a pitch was called a ball on a critical at-bat for the Padres' Tim Stauffer, Quintero said something without turning around to plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. Marquez then stepped in front of Quintero and said something.

“Q was not showing him up for me,” Mills said. “He wasn't turning around and he kept his mask on, so I really didn't know what was going on, but when he gets up and gets in front of Q, then yes” Mills was defending his catcher when he came out.

Quintero thought Marquez's stepping in front of the plate was uncalled for.

“He doesn't have to do that,” Quintero said. “I talked to him with respect.”

Let's also just remember that it was Alfonso Marquez who asked Kenny Rogers to do him a favor and remove that "dirt thing" off his hand in the 2006 World Series.

Astros to open new Dominican Academy today

Hey - the Dominican Academy opens today!

The newly designed complex consists of two-and-a-half baseball fields, six pitcher’s mounds, batting cages, locker rooms, an industrial kitchen, weight room, staff living quarters and an observation tower — the better to observe the lack of talent in the development stage from.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez Reyna will also be there, as well as several other high-ranking government officials.

After the dedication, the Astros’ Dominican team will christen the field against the Philadelphia Phillies’ Dominican academy team.

Anyone else, after reading the description, think it sounds kind of like, uh, prison?

Eddie's Farm: May 9

Round Rock

The Express had a good start from Josh Banks, and a monster day by Brian Bogusevic for a 6-3 win over Memphis. Banks threw 6.2IP, 7H/3R (1ER), 4K:1BB to improve to 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA. Yorman Bazardo and Casey Daigle shut it down to preserve the win. Bogusevic was 4x4 with a 2-run homer, Oswaldo Navarro was 2x4, and Jason Castro was 1x4 with an RBI double.

Man of the Match: Brian Bogusevic

Corpus Christi

A wild one in Corpus saw four runs scored in the 9th inning, but it was the Hooks who got the last two for a 5-4 win. Marcos Cabral and David Cook scored on a throwing error to win the game - brutal to win on a walkoff throwing error - but we'll take it. Sergio Perez threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 2K:3BB, while Nelson Payano threw 2IP, allowing five baserunners (3H/2BB), but no runs. Edwin Walker threw 1s: 1IP, 1H/1ER, 1K:1BB, but Danny Meszaros gets his third blown save and his second win, allowing three hits and a walk (2ER) in 1IP. Jack Shuck and Koby Clemens both had two hits, and Clemens also stole two bases and drew a walk. J.R. Towles was 0x4 with 3Ks, and an RBI. Also impressive were the two outfield assists, nailing Missions at home - one by Gaston and one by T.J. Steele.

Man of the Match: Koby Clemens


The JetHawks took a 4-0 lead after the first inning, gave up five runs, and then pulled away for a 14-8 win over Inland Empire. Shane Wolf threw 2.2IP, 5H/5ER, 2K:3BB, while Mike Modica threw 3.1IP of 4H/0ER relief for the win. Ashton Mowdy gave up three earned - two on a homer - in one IP, and Brian Wabick closed it out with 2IP, 2H/0ER. Jay Austin was 4x4 with a walk, four runs scored, and an RBI. David Flores and Brandon Wikoff both had three hits, while Mark Ori was 2x5 (4RBI) and Ebert Rosario was 2x5. The 4-5-6 of Flores, Ori, and Federico Hernandez went 6x14 with 8RBI.

Man of the Match: Jay Austin - 4x4 with a walk.


Rough day all around for the Legends as they fall 9-2 to Greensboro. Brandt Walker threw 4IP, 8H/8ER, 2K:3BB while Colton Pitkin held Greensboro to 4H/1ER, 2K:1BB in 5IP of relief. The Legends were 0x11 w/RISP. Brian Kemp had the only extra-base hit, while Kody Hinze and Rene Garcia had the lone RBIs. Our boy Aaron Bray is having a rough time of it, going 0x4 to lower his average to .139.

Man of the Match: Colton Pitkin

Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Tranzaction


May 8: Placed Michael Garciaparra on the DL.

In Greg Rajan's blog post from last night, the injury is unknown, and Wladimir Sutil was activated from the DL. We also learn from Rajan that Chia-Jen Lo was placed on the DL with arm soreness, which is more specific than "Arm Injury."

McTaggart's notebook is full of news

So Brad Mills got hisself thrown out of the game and talked about getting thrown out yesterday:

Mills was ejected by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who had thrown out Michael Bourn a night earlier for arguing a call at first base. Mills argued with Marquez in the top of the fifth inning Sunday, when a pitch thrown by Roy Oswalt to Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer was called a ball. Stauffer wound up hitting a two-run double on a 2-2 count.

In the bottom of the inning, Stauffer threw a similar pitch down in the zone that was called a strike, prompting Mills to yell from the dugout at Marquez, who threw him out. Mills came onto the field and argued with Marquez for a few minutes before walking off the field to a standing ovation.

Coincidentally, Mills spoke at length before Sunday's game with reporters and said the idea of managers getting thrown out on purpose to pump up a team is overrated, though it does have its place.

"If you've got a legitimate argument, then you can pile on," he said.

Oh, and if you remember, it was Alfonso Marquez who tossed Michael Bourn because he has trouble with hand-eye coordination.
However, Mills thinks Marquez may have been right:
"It looks like he might have been out. I want to defend my player. I'm glad to see him show that emotion, don't get me wrong. If he thinks he's safe, I'm going to defend him, but it looks like [Marquez] might have gotten that one right. I'm not going to sit there and say otherwise if I think otherwise."
Easy Eddie is wicked surprised by how bad the offense has been:

"Yeah, I'm baffled. You go through all the emotions. Of all the words you could use, we can't become resigned to this is what it is, because then we're basically saying some guys with pretty substantial track records of success are now failing, and we have to accept that. I don't think it's an acceptable fact. I think they have to battle their way out of it, and I think there's a lot left in the tank for guys struggling the most right now. We have to try to get a way out of it, and I think there's a lot left in the tank for the guys struggling the most right now."

Recap for G31: Astros v. Padres

Well I'll be. The Astros tied it up in the 9th, and then Hunter Pence hits a walkoff for a 4-3 win over the Padres.

Why They Won

Because somehow Berkman, Lee, and Pence - who were previously hitting .199 combined - went 7x14 with three RBI. And because Roy threw the longest outing of the rotation so far this season.

Astros Pitching

Oswalt86/39:1117-76 (65%)22/16
Lindstrom22/00:022-14 (63.6%)3/1
Lyon10/00:05-4 (80%)1/0

Roy went eight innings for the first time in 17 starts - July 17, 2009 at Dodger Staduim. And after seven walks in his last two starts combined, Roy only allowed one walk on the day. Oh, he got the No Decision, don't worry about that.

Lyon has now appeared in sixteen games, and has held the opposing team scoreless in 14 of those appearances. Yeah, he gave up six earned runs in those two, but whatever. It's been ten appearances since he gave up the three runs for the second time, so...yay. Lyon's ERA went from 10.12 after that April 17 outing to today's mark of 3.77.

Astros hitting

Dadgum. Of course Stauffer - who made his first start of the season and naturally held the Astros scoreless (for a Game Score of 56, lower than normal). So the Astros had to do their damage on the Padres' bullpen. Lee and Pence went back-to-back in the 6th to cut the lead to 3-2, and then in the 9th, Heath Bell came in - who was 8x9 in save opportunities. Jerry Hairston threw Carlos Lee's groundball to Baytown, doubtless because he was rushed by Carlos Lee's speed. With Matsui running for him, Pence grounded out, moving Matui to third. Feliz almost gave Bell a ride over the fence, but it was enough to get Matsui home to tie it up.

In the 11th, Keppinger was safe on an error by Chase Headley, and Berkman's single got Keppinger over to second. Michaels' sac bunt got Keppinger thrown out at third, but Pence played the hero and won it for his second RBI of the game.

Pence now has four hits in his last eight ABs, and has hits in four of his last five games.

Pitch Count Hero: Bourn (1x5) - 23 pitches in five PAs
Pitch Count Punk: Pence (3x5) - 10 pitches in five PAs

Man of the Match: It's got to be Hunter Pence. He had three hits in his previous 21 ABs.

Goat of the Game: How's about we give it to Jeff Keppinger - 0x5, and has two hits in his last 19 ABs.

Lineup for G31: Astros v. Padres

McTaggart has your lineup for G31, in which the Astros try to avoid going 1-6 on this homestand, and will do it against Padres spot-starter Tim Stauffer, because Kevin Correia was scratched.

1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Jeff Keppinger 2B
3. Lance Berkman 1B
4. Carlos Lee LF
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Pedro Feliz 3B
7. Tommy Manzella SS
8. Humberto Quintero C
9. Roy Oswalt P

The Houston Astros: Everybody's Homecoming Team

In trying to get a handle on just how accommodating the Astros' offense is, I thought we might take a look at opposing pitcher Game Scores. If you need a little refresher on Game Scores, then by all means, click here. Basically, a Game Score of 50 or higher means that the pitcher - essentially - threw a quality start.

The highest game score for an opposing starting pitcher came courtesy of Mat Latos, in Friday night's G29 vs. Padres, in which his Game Score was 87. The lowest game score was Pittsburgh pitcher Charlie Morton's G18 turd, in which the Astros won 10-3, and Morton recorded a 29 game score.

The average Game Score for opposing starting pitchers is, incredibly, 60.4. Of the Astros' 30 games, the opposing pitcher threw a quality start in 25 games. The following pitchers threw their best game of the season against the Astros:

Mat Latos (May 7), 87
Adam Wainwright (Apr 12) - though he tied his 76 in his next start vs. Mets
Jon Garland (May 8), 74
Tommy Hanson (April 30), 73
Ryan Dempster (April 18), 73
Brad Penny (April 14), 73
Carlos Silva (April 16), 68
Rodrigo Lopez (May 5), 66
Mike Leake (April 28), 66
J.A. Happ (April 9), 58 - though he has only made two starts this season

This is incredible. Ten of 30 starting pitchers had their "best game" of the season against the Astros' offense.

As a point of comparison, the Astros' rotation is averaging a 48.8 game score. Here are your averages for the five SPs:

Roy: 60.3 (High - 73: April 17 @ Chicago)
Myers: 51.3 (High - 68: April 14 @ St Louis)
Paulino: 48 (High - 72: May 8 v. San Diego)
Wandy: 44.5 (High - 68: April 24 v. Pittsburgh)
Norris: 40 (High - 63: April 15 @ St. Louis)

Can't bring in a sandwich, but hey, have a bat

In Fallas' Notes column today, we see a change in policy within the organization:

If you can catch it, it's yours.

The Astros no longer will require that fans return bats that enter the seating area, a seemingly frequent happening this season.

Outfielder Hunter Pence had one of his bats land behind the visitors dugout Tuesday, and security personnel, who were just doing their job, were booed mercilessly by fans as they retrieved the bat. Players like to keep bats they use during games.

The memo to players came the next day.

However, if you return a bat the mezzanine level, you will receive a mango sno-cone.

Mark Kiszla: Time for Colorado to ask about Roy

The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla says it's time for Colorado to check in on the availability of Roy Oswalt:

One of these years, if Colorado wants to wrestle with the big bears of October, the Rockies might actually have to splurge on a pitcher without guarantee of success. This year it could be Houston right-hander Roy Oswalt, a 32-year-old veteran with a 139-74 career record, who could be on the block.

Although Oswalt is owed more than $30 million through 2011, his contract can be bought out after next season. Would the Astros trade him as the deadline approaches, and might they also pick up some salary in return for an offer of bona fide prospects? There's only one way to find out: ask.

I have a hard time believing that Roy would approve a trade to the thin Colorado air, but the Rockies' system was ranked 8th by Keith Law in January, and have three of Law's Top 100 prospects in LHP Tyler Matzek (#22), LHP Christian Friedrich (#36), and LHP Jhoulys Chacin (#48).

Berkman would "fit Boston like a fiddle"

Nick Cafardo's always-worthwhile Sunday column has a quote from a "one Astros organizational person" (which could honestly be the groundskeeper at Round Rock) regarding the possibility of trading Berkman:

There’s still skepticism among some in the Houston organization that Lance Berkman really would leave his beloved Houston. But if he does indeed waive his no trade-clause, said one Astros organizational person, "He’d fit Boston like a fiddle. He’s got natural power to left and left-center. He works the count like they like and has always had a high on-base percentage."

Cafardo mentions Seattle or the White Sox as possibilities, but he's going to have to go on a tear in order to be an attractive candidate.
And Cafardo, who keeps tabs on Koby Clemens from time to time, has a nice things to say about both Clemens and Jason Castro:

Clemens was hitting only .253 and had 32 strikeouts, but he is making a positive impression in his next step up. A scout who has watched him said, “To think he could make it to the big leagues is a legitimate possibility. Like any hitter, as he moves up he’ll see more off-speed stuff, and how he adjusts to it will determine how quickly he rises. Don’t forget, I’m sure he’s seen a pretty good split from his dad."

And on Castro:

The young phenom has struggled offensively at Triple A Round Rock, but old friend Kevin Cash, recently recalled by the Astros, said, “The thing that’s impressive about him is that he calls a really good game for a guy of his age and his experience. When you watch him, you understand the excitement about him because he has a chance to be a very good all-around catcher. The pitchers feel comfortable with him, and that’s a great sign."

Yeah, just ask J.R. Towles.