Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lindstrom's back still spazzing out

Zach Levine tweeted that Matt Lindstrom's ongoing back spasms have pushed back his bullpen session, rehab appearance, and return tuntil they stop.

How the Astros are trying not to get Strasburged

David Barron has a good article on how the Astros are treating their pitchers so as not to get Strasburged.

Doug Brocail:
"We joke about it all the time. As soon as you sign a kid, sit him out for a year, have Tommy John surgery, fix it before it breaks and go from there...

..."We try to limit our young kids. If you have a kid who you think is going to pitch in the majors, if he throws a nine-inning shutout, the next outing should be five innings. Get his work in, and give him a rest."

Tal Smith:
"Even with the emphasis on training, we have more injuries, which doesn't make sense. We used to take kids who were 17 and 18 and have them pitch on four-day rotations. The workload is not as severe. With that, and with training methods, you'd think injuries would be reduced, but they're not."

Mark Melancon, who had TJ surgery in 2006:
"I got to work on my delivery - just some mechanics I cleaned up. For me, it was a great thing, and I didn't have any setbacks going through the process. A lot of that is mental and just kind of preparing yourself not to have setbacks.."

On his mechanics, post-Tommy John:
"I don't feel like a whole lot is different there. Maybe mechanically there are a couple things different. It's just caused most of the time by the amount of use put on our arms and the unnatural motion. It's bound to happen."

FanGraphs: You may get excited now, but don't change your diaper just yet

FanGraphs just can't let us sleep easy:

There's a good chance that, in the next two seasons, Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn will likely join Oswalt and Berkman on their way out to make room for new blood -- and Houston will have pick other players to build the franchise around. Can the core they have already assembled lead them to the playoffs, or possibly a championship? Based on the current core, it appears unlikely...

...You build championship teams through a combination of stars and role players -- look at any recent World Series winner for documentation of this -- and the Astros currently have the role players, but not the stars. GM Ed Wade is going to have to draft carefully for the next few years, or this rebuild will take a long time. He needs to develop a few star-caliber, quickly-rising-through-the-minors guys out of the draft to complement the players above.

And in between, they break down - and not in a good way - virtually every Astro under 30 save for Bud Norris.

Change in the clubhouse starts with Bagwell

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has an article on hitting coach Jeff Bagwell, and the change we can believe in in the Astros clubhouse.

Hunter Pence:
"I was definitely nervous when he first got here. I didn't know how to talk to him. It's Baggy. You hear all the stories from everyone around here about how he was the greatest leader and such an awesome player, so you put him high up on a pedestal. But there's been a huge change in this clubhouse, and he's been part of it. He makes you laugh on a daily basis and have fun hitting again. He says to us, 'You guys have too many feelings. You can't have feelings in this game.' He'll just rag on you."

Every hitting coach develops his own style with time. Bagwell, a .408 career on-base guy, wants Houston's young hitters to show more discipline at the plate, but he knows that patience can't be forced. And he's less inclined to dwell on mechanics than a hitter's mental approach and the never-ending quest to get a good pitch to hit.

Bagwell's Chevy Keys to the Game:
"Hitters always see the pitcher out there and say, 'What has he got?'" Bagwell said. "I'm like, 'He's right here. Watch him when you're on deck. Don't ask me or some scout who sits behind the plate.' I don't want guys up [the runway] every single inning watching their at-bats on video when they can find out something that's happening on the field. Watch the game. Talk to your teammates. Look and see if the guy is tipping pitches."

It's a good article, and we don't want to pull too much from it. There's even a chart showing the Astros without Bagwell, and the Astros with Bagwell. Interesting stat: The Astros hit 131 doubles with Sean Berry as hitting coach, and have hit 71 in the five weeks since Bagwell came on.

We all know the debate about how effective a pitching coach really is, but it sure is fun to see Bagwell in the dugout.

And we'll close with some class. Bagwell, on Berry:
"I feel terrible about it. Are you kidding me? There was nothing wrong with Sean. Sean worked way harder than I do. It's just that our best players weren't hitting. But that's the thing to do now: Teams fire the hitting coaches and the pitching coaches."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eddie's Farm: August 27

Round Rock

I hate losing to any level of the Cardinals. Memphis beats Round Rock, 9-0. Josh Banks had a rare disaster start, allowing 8H/7ER, 5K:2BB in 5.1IP, and Gary Majewski allowed two unearned runs on four hits in 2.2IP. The Express had a rough night behind the plate, collecting just three hits: one from Downs, one from Matt Kata, and a pinch-hit from Edwin Maysonet. Downs also was caught stealing and committed an error.

Man of the Match: Nope.


Corpus enjoyed a 5-run 6th inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit for the 8-3 win over Midland. Erick Abreu threw well, allowing 4H/2ER, 9K:4BB in 5.1IP. Shane Wolf struck out three and allowed an unearned run in his Double-A debut (2.2IP). Jose Valdez struck out one in 1IP. Mike Affronti (and Spearhead!) had four of the Hooks' 13 hits and 4RBI, with Jimmy Van Ostrand (2RBI) and Wladimir Sutil (2RBI) getting two hits each. Koby Clemens hit his 21st double of the year. David Cook was the only Hook without a hit (0x5).

Man of the Match: Mike Affronti


Lancaster got two runs back late, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Rancho Cucamonga lead, and Lancaster loses 4-2. Pat Urckfitz threw 6IP, 8H/4ER, 2K:3BB in the loss, and Mike Modica closed it out with 3H/0ER, 1K:1BB in 2IP. Jay Aystin hit his 10th homer of the year, providing the lone RBI. Brian Pellegrini (also a BB), David Flores, and Mark Ori (BB) also added hits.

Man of the Match: Jay Austin


Hey-O! Lexington comes through with two runs in the top of the 9th, helping everyone forget that they were up 3-1 in the middle of the 6th, for a 5-3 win over Kannapolis. Tanner Bushue threw 7IP, 5H/2R (1ER), 5K:1BB. Colton Pitkin loaded up the bases with two hits and a walk, with Kirk Clark allowing a run charged to Pitkin, but otherwise throwing two hitless innings (Kannapolis had the bases loaded in the 8th with no outs. Clark got the double play, but Kannapolis scored a run on the play - charged to Pitkin. Follow?) Grant Hogue was 4x5 with a double, Jake Goebbert was 3x5 with an RBI, and Jimmy Paredes had two hits and an RBI (with his 41st error, and 44th stolen base). Our Boy Aaron Bray was 1x2 with 3BB. Jiovanni Mier hit a two-out, two-run single to push across the game-winning runs. Then he got picked off first.

Man of the Match: How about Mier?


Rough night at the plate for the ValleyCats as they get shutout by Hudson Valley, 3-0. Andrew Robinson threw 5H/2ER, 8K:1BB, WP, balk in 5IP; Mike Ness allowed 2H/1ER, 3K:0BB, and Alex Sogard threw a perfect 8th. Enrique Hernandez got a double, and Marcus Nidiffer (BB) and Mike Kvasnicka got a hit each.

Man of the Match: Andrew Robinson


Greeneville put five runs across in five different innings, and that was good enough for a 5-2 win over Danville. Ruben Alaniz threw 5H/1ER, 5K:1BB in 6.2IP; Travis Smink allowed a solo homer in 0.1IP, and Brian Streilein got the save, striking out four (And allowing three hits) in 2IP. Nobody got more than one hit, but Jonathan Merritt got his 3rd homer of the season and added two walks, Delino DeShields collected an RBI triple, and Chris Lovett got a double. Danville pitchers threw five wild pitches. So there you go.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Merritt

Call-up time!

The Astros are discussing just who they're going to bring up on Wednesday, when the rosters expand to 40. We know two things from McTaggart's article: one will be a pitcher, and the other will be a catcher.

"Another catcher would be huge, and being able to get a couple of arms, especially with the games we've been in the last week where they've really exhausted our bullpen, would be great."

"I've already made up my mind it's going to be less than a handful of moves. We're getting guys back healthy with Lindstrom and Keppinger and still have a chance to get [Felipe] Paulino back. I'm just not a believer in using September as a reward or just stocking up the bench to have 27 moves to make. We have enough depth here."

Personally, and since you read Astros County you get our personal thoughts, I think trying to get Paulino back this season is a big mistake. Just let him heal and bring him back in 2011.

Keppinger and Lindstrom, who will come back at some point towards the beginning of September, will be heading to Corpus for rehab appearances.

Possible pitchers to come up would be Wesley Wright and Chris Sampson, who are already on the 40-man roster. Wright is currently on the 7-Day DL, but his injury wasn't supposed to be considered serious (though he hasn't pitched since August 13). Sampson has a 3.18 ERA (and a .349 BAA) in his last ten games.

For catchers, neither Brian Esposito or Edwin Bellorin are on the 40-man, but McTaggart astutely notes that the Astros could transfer Moehler to the 60-Day DL and free up a roster spot. There's a possibility that Jordan Lyles could come up, as well.

Newly-acquired Matt Downs is on the 40-man, but with the return of Keppinger, I don't see him coming up to Houston. And also personally, I would like to see September call-ups used as a reward. Brian Bogusevic would be a nice choice. He's on the 40-man roster, and he's hitting .283/.371/.425 in 127 games for Round Rock. Drew Locke has played well, too - collecting an .843 OPS in 125 games.

Do you agree or disagree with Wade's September Call-Up philosophy?

Text of Oswalt's Thank-You ad

So Roy Oswalt took out a full-page ad in the Chronicle today, here's the text:

Since joining the Astros in 2001, the city of Houston has been a special place to me and my family. The overwhelming support I have received from Astros fans has been unbelievable. I will never forget how the city rallied around our team, especially during our amazing run to the World Series in 2005.

I will cherish my memories in Houston for a lifetime and am blessed to have grown up with the Houston Astros family.

I want to personally thank all of the loyal Astros fans, Drayton McLane, and the entire Houston Astros organization.

Please know that Houston will always hold a special place in my heart.


Roy Oswalt

Aww, shucks.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G128: Astros @ Mets

Only the Astros could allow three hits and still lose. Pelfrey "dominates" the Astros (according to ESPN), and the Mets win 2-1.

*Nelson Figueroa pitched a pretty good game, but he was his own undoing, making a throwing error that allowed Luis Castillo to reach second base. Beltran walked, and David Wright hit a sac fly that led to Castillo scoring from second (thanks, Anderson Hernandez).

*Figueroa also threw a wild pitch and hit Jeff Francoeur. And the 4th inning sucked, too, with Figueroa giving up three walks (walking in Ike Davis) and a hit for the second run.

*Still, Figueroa threw 7IP and allowed one earned run (though I'm with McTaggart. If the pitcher makes an error that leads to a run, that should be earned, too.). This is his third start of the year (and in a row), throwing 5IP against the Mets on Aug 17, and 6IP against the Marlins on Aug 22. It's his longest start since throwing a complete game shutout against, yes, the Astros in the season-closer on October 4, 2009.

*Mark Melancon has been a nice pickup, throwing a perfect 8th and giving Lyon another day off. Good job by the pitching staff to go deep in this game and spell the bullpen.

*The Mets only got three hits. That's the fewest number of hits for the Mets in a win since May 6, 2009, when the Mets beat the Phillies, 1-0.

*Offensively, it was frustrating. Nine hits, and one run. That pretty much sums it up. Crazy thing is, the Astros got three hits with runners in scoring position. How do you get three hits w/RISP and only score one run? Well, Angel Sanchez singled to right with Johnson on second, and Johnson was caught in a rundown at home by Jeff Francoeur. The Astros, down by two in the 9th, had Carlos Lee on second and Chris Johnson up. Johnson singled to right, and Lee held up. Michaels singled, scoring Lee (2-1 Mets). With two chances at the plate with Johnson on 2nd, Sanchez popped up and the pinch-hitter (Jeebus) Manzella struck out looking to end the game.

*The Astros ended two innings on the basepaths - Johnson out at home, and Michael Bourn getting caught at 2nd in the 5th.

*The Astros have successfully stolen 82 of 110 bases, for a 74.5% success rate.

*Brett Wallace was 0x3, including an 0x2 night w/RISP. 23 of Wallace's 83 plate appearances have come w/RISP (46 with men on). He has five RBI total (3 w/RISP).

*The Astros have scored four or fewer runs in ten of their last eleven games (6-5). It's the 27th time this season the Astros have been held to one - or zero - run(s) (0-27).

*Pitch Count Hero: Bourn (1x3, BB) and Lee (1x4) - 19 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Jason Castro (0x3) - 10 pitches in three PAs.

*Man of the Match: Nelson Figueroa. Pitched well enough to win.

*Goat of the Game: This goes to Anderson Hernandez, who stupidly chased down David Wright's pop-up, instead of letting Michael Bourn get it, who could have held Luis Castillo on second. And he was 0x4.

Travel day

It's another travel day and the local government is largely unavailable this morning. Adjust accordingly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Johnson to DL, Wolf comes up

Hooks pitcher Jeremy Johnson was placed on the 7-Day DL and Shane Wolf was brought up from Lancaster to take his roster spot.

In other Tranzaction news, Lexington placed Barry Butera on the 7-Day DL and activated Brian Kemp from the temporarily inactive list.

Keppinger can start playing baseball again

Hey-O! Jeff Keppinger has been cleared to resume baseball activities. This means he can now adjust his jock and chew sunflower seeds immediately.
Chris Johnson isn't letting his (now-).336 average get to him:
"I try not to look at stats. I know I'm hitting and that kind of stuff, but I don't look at what I've been doing lately, because then I start thinking about that, and when you start doing that you end up going the wrong way. I'm aware I've been hitting pretty good."
Turns out that Roy Halladay is a pretty good guy, after giving former Phillie Nelson Figueroa a $4,000 watch for being on the team when he threw his perfect game. The newly-blinged out Figueroa:
"It was sitting in my locker when I got in from batting practice. It showed an unbelievable amount of class to even think about your teammates that way. Not only to give it to the team, but all the personnel he came in contact with just this year, and he included them. He left no one out. No one was more important than the other person, and you just tip your cap to somebody like that in that kind of situation and what it means to him personally. I have all the respect in the world for Roy Halladay, even without the watch."

But the watch helps.

Will Bagwell return?

That's the question Alyson Footer speculates on in her blog post tonight.

I'm assuming Bagwell will be welcomed back by the front office if he does want to continue coaching, but at this point, I'd say the odds of him wanting to return are 50-50. He's enjoying the experience and is making a difference with both the young and veteran hitters, but the decision will be based on whether he can stand to be away from his kids. Right now, he can't.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G127: Astros @ Phillies

Wee-hee-heelll. Back on Monday, we thought the Astros would be lucky to split. So a sweep is pretty much beyond our expectations. Astros win 5-1.

*By now you've probably seen from a number of sources that the last time the Astros swept the Phillies in Philadelphia was in 1999.

*It was the fourth sweep by the Astros this season, and the second road sweep (Cardinals - May 11-13).

*The Astros are 11 games under .500 for the first time since a win over Colorado on June 10 gave them a 25-36 record.

*Wandy threw 7IP, 5H/1ER, 6K:1BB, needing 111 pitches to get through his seven innings. Wandy has gotten 18+ outs in each outing since June 24 - 12 straight starts.

*So far in his five August starts, he has posted 24H/5ER, 32K:5BB in 26.1IP - good enough for a 1.71 ERA/1.10 WHIP. Even this lowers his career August splits to a 4.53 ERA/1.40 WHIP, with a 2.22 K:BB ratio.

*Fulchino and Abad closed out the duties, giving Lyon a much-needed day off, and resting the other members of the bullpen.

*Still, Kyle Kendrick had a pretty rough start, allowing 9H/4ER, 1K:0BB. Michael Bourn, Anderson Hernandez, Carlos Lee, Angel Sanchez, and Jason Castro enjoyed multi-hit games.

*The Astros got four of their five runs with two outs.

*Michael Bourn was 3x5 with an RBI and 2SB. His 44 stolen bases are five behind Juan Pierre for the Major League lead. He's 10 SBs ahead of Scott Podsednik for the NL lead.

*Bourn was on fire this series, getting hits in every game - including two 3-hit games, and going 8x20 with 4SBs. His .254 average is as high as it's been since August 11, and his OPS went up 13 points in these four games.

*Carlos Lee hit his 18th homer of the season in the 3rd inning. 174 of his 325 career homers have been solo shots. It was his 13th homer against the Phillies.

*Jason Castro hit his 4th double of the season, and seven of his 26 hits have been for extra-bases.

*Chris Johnson got the start, but took an 0-fer for the 17th start of the season. In Chris Johnson's starts where he doesn't get a hit, the Astros are 10-7.

*It took until his 4th AB, but Brett Wallace (0x4) got the ball out of the infield. After two pop-ups to short and a grounder to first, Wallace lined out to right to end the 8th inning.

*In this series, the Phillies were 3x23 w/RISP.

*With the win, the Astros moved to 14-10 (including 5-2 on this road trip; 7-6 on the road this month) in August. Including the sweep of the Pirates on August 13, the Astros are 10-4, despite scoring 5+ runs just twice.

*Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (3x5) - 22 pitches in five plate appearances

*Pitch Count Punk: Brett Wallace (0x4) - 11 pitches in four plate appearances.

*Man of the Match: Wandy Rodriguez!

*Goat of the Game: I don't want to do it again, but I'm not sure if I have a choice: Brett Wallace.

Nidiffer, Wallace named to App League All-Star team

Marcus Nidiffer and Chris Wallace were named to the Appalachian League All-Star Team today.

(Captip to Appy Astros for the link.)

Berkman really healthy, still on DL

Brutal report from Hardball Talk today, that Lance is on the Yankees' DL, but isn't really hurt.

Aaron Gleeman links to this article, which says:
Chad Jennings of the New York Journal News reports that Lance Berkman will definitely be ready to come off the disabled list when eligible next week and in fact writes that "Berkman has been healthy for a while."

According to Jennings "he could have played this week" and "is on the phantom disabled list so that Eduardo Nunez has a roster spot."

Berkman has been healthy for a while. His ankle remains heavily taped, but he could have played this week in Toronto. What’s amazing is how easily he talks about the situation. There is no bitterness, no frustration. Berkman came to New York to play his part, and for a while that meant a platoon job at designated hitter. Last week, it meant going on the 15-day disabled list for an injury that was going to take three or four days to heal.

Think that would ever have happened in Houston?

Joe Vallee is a stand-up guy

In Joe Vallee's follow-up piece for (remember his primary piece from Tuesday's game?) he does a stand-up thing:

I received my share angry mail from disgruntled Astros fans after I called them Triple A team yesterday. I would be offended myself if someone referred to my team as that. As a Phillies fan, we've been there more than Astros fans have over the last twenty-plus years. I'm sorry, but when you are back to back National League Champions like the Phillies currently are, you hold yourself to high standards- which means beating up on teams like the Astros when it counts. In 1989, the Phillies were beyond horrible. I wanted them to win, but when the powerhouses (Mets, Giants, etc.) came into town, even I was old enough to know not to expect much from the Fightins during those days.

It's not really an apology, but I think we can understand his frustration with the Phillies.

Velasquez shut down (until Monday)

Zach Levine reports that 2nd Round pick Vincent Velasquez has been shut down after a previous injury forced him to leave his last start early:

Velasquez had scar tissue from a previous injury in his arm break loose, forcing him to leave his start for rookie-level Greeneville. Bennett said Velasquez had no ligament or flexor-tendon damage but will be shut down until Monday when he sees team physician Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff.

Blum back to Houston, Downs could be a future 2B1

Geoff Blum's Blum neck has sent him back to Houston for an examination on his jacked up neck.

"He was feeling much better last night after the game and we asked him if he would be able to play today, and he said yes, he wanted to be in the lineup. He got here real early and said, 'Millsie, it's worse today than it was yesterday and I can hardly move.' And so we kind of talked a little bit and he went in to get some treatment.

"We talked to [general manager] Ed [Wade] and [head athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero] and decided we have to get some answers because it's been a while now. We decided to send him back to see Dr. McCann. He has an appointment in the morning with him and hopefully we'll know something by the end of our game tomorrow afternoon at the latest."

Wade has some nice words on new Express member Matt Downs:
"Our reports on him were that he's a multi-position guy, possibly and everyday guy at second. He's just a good baseball player who gets the most out of his ability, one of those types of guys. He has options remaining and buys a little bit more depth. We had a roster spot available, and so it made sense to claim him."

Philly Media Round-up: G126

Phil Heron, Delaware County Times:
Bottom line is this team has no business losing three straight to the Astros, regardless of how many questionable calls are made by the umps. Somewhere, Ed Wade is smiling.

Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer:
If the – ahem -- best lineup in the National League had been merely competent while Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels and Halladay were doing their jobs in this series, the Phillies would have greeted Thursday morning with a half-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. Instead, circumstance brought an Astros team with some edgy ex-Phillies to town just as the home team's lineup sputtered and stalled. Utley and Ryan Howard rejoined the team, but their swings remained on the disabled list.

The last thing the Phillies needed was the best darn crew of amateur umpires in baseball. Greg Gibson and his incredible moving baseline led to the winning run Monday night, but that was nothing compared to Barry's performance Tuesday.

More on that JetHawks no-hitter

Nice write-up at MiLB on the JetHawks' no-hitter against Lake Elsinore last night.

Starting Pitcher Robby Donovan:
"My fastball was working real well. I was locating it really well. I had a few good changeups...Actually, I was tired as hell at the end. I was just dead. I walked those two guys at the end, but I felt good the whole time before that." "

David Carpenter:
We were looking up at the scoreboard and saw that big fat zero up on the board. He threw really, really well and set the tone for the entire game. He came out there and did his job. It wasn't really the pressure of keeping a no-hitter alive as much as keeping runs off the board. It was a tie game when I came in with runners on second and third."

Richard Justice has us all feeling warm down our leg

Richard Justice says these are the good times:

Now they've got you jumping out of your chair and pumping your fist. OK, I might be stretching that a bit, but you know what I mean. You can't believe the transformation. You love this team. You love its youth and energy. You love its fight...

...I think the Astros are a reminder than attitude and youth and desire are really, really important. I think they're an endorsement of the environment Brad Mills and his staff have created...

... While we dishing out credit, let's not overlook GM Ed Wade, who traded for J.A. Happ and Jeff Keppinger, got Jeff Fulchino and Wilton Lopez off waivers and signed Brett Myers, Jason Michaels and others.

Meanwhile, he's rebuilding the minor league system. There are miles to go before the Astros are a finished production, but it would be impossible to predict the dramatic turn things would take. Pats on the back all around.

Agree? Disagree?

Eddie's Farm: August 25

Round Rock

Memphis took a 3-0 lead into the 6th, and the Express' attempt to mount a rally fizzled. Memphis wins 3-1. Andy Van Hekken threw 6IP, 9H/3ER, 6K:3BB while Chris Sampson and Casey Daigle allowed a hit and struck one out each. The Express only got five hits - two from Edwin Maysonet, and one each from Bellorin, Van Hekken, and an RBI pinch-hit double from German Duran. 1-6 in the order: 0x20, 7K:4BB (2BB from Shuck).

Man of the Match: Edwin Maysonet


You won't win too many games allowing nine runs in an inning. And that's exactly what the Hooks did, with Midland getting nine in the 4th and rolling to a 10-3 win over Corpus. Bubbie Buzachero got the start, allowing 5H/6ER, 2K:3BB, and a balk in 3IP. Three of those runs were courtesy of Arcenio Leon, who allowed 3H/4ER of his own, with 3K:3BB. Evan Englebrook (2IP) and Jailen Peguero (1IP) allowed one hit in the final three innings. Federico Hernandez was 2x3 with a homer and 2RBI, and David Cook hit a solo homer in the 7th, finishing the night 1x3 with a walk.

Man of the Match: Federico Hernandez


Only Lancaster could throw a no-hitter, and still need extra innings to win. Lake Elsinore was blanked in the hits column, but got a run in the 8th, forcing the game to the 10th where the JetHawks put it away for a 3-1 no-no. Five pitchers combined for the feat. Robby Donovan threw 5.2IP, 4K:2BB and got the first 17 Storm batters before walking two straight batters. Edwin Walker walked one in 1.1IP. David Berner made things interesting in the 8th, walking Jesus Lopez, committing a throwing error on a sac bunt by Robert Lara, then making another throwing error on Brad Chalk's sac bunt, scoring Jesus Lopez. With the bases loaded, David Carpenter got a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. Carpenter pitched the next inning, and Jose Trinidad preserved the no-no in the 10th. Final Tally for JetHawk pitchers: 10IP, 0H/1R (0ER), 9K:6BB. David Flores was 2x4 with a solo homer (2RBI on the night), and Bryce Lane - hitting a robust .316 in his short time at Lancaster - was 2x4 with a double and an RBI. Flores and Lane provided the RBIs in the 10th.

Man of the Match: Robby Donovan


Jeebus. Lexington scored the first run of the game, and then allowed the next 13 for a 13-1 loss to Kannapolis. Zach Grimmett allowed 7H/9ER, 1K:4BB, 2WP in 3.2IP. Mike Schurz walked four (one hit) in 2.1IP, and Dan Sarisky allowed 7H/4R (3ER), 2K:0BB in 2IP. Grant Hogue was 2x3, and Jiovanni Mier, Kody Hinze (RBI), Ben Heath, Jonathan Meyer, and Renzo Tello had your other hits.

Man of the Match: Jiovanni Mier


Tri-City continued Lexington's trend of scoring early, and then getting blasted. Taking a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, Hudson Valley scored 10 of the next 11 runs for a 10-3 win over the ValleyCats. Jake Buchanan allowed 11H/5ER, 4K:0BB in 3.1IP. Murillo Gouvea (2IP, 1H/1ER, 4K:1BB), Adam Champion (0.2IP, 1H/2ER), and John Frawley (2IP, 4H/2ER) all gave up runs in relief. ValleyCats pitchers hit three batters. Ben Orloff was 1x2 with an RBI and two walks; Dan Adamson was 1x3 with a walk and an outfield assist, and Buck Afenir, Adam Bailey, and Jacke Healey (RBI) provided the other hits.

Man of the Match: Ben Orloff


Danville opened up a can on Greeneville, collecting 21 hits in a 10-1 win over the Gastros. Euris Quezada allowed 9H/7ER, 2K:0BB, WP, Balk, HBP in 4.1IP, Rodney Quintero gave up four hits and a walk, (and two runs charged to Quezada) in 1.2IP. Angel Gonzalez allowed 6H/3ER in 2IP, and Justin Harper gave up 2H/0ER in 1IP. Rafael Valenzuela was 2x4 with an RBI, and Delino DeShields (SB), Telvin Nash, Ricardo Garcia (3BB), Ryan Humphrey, and Hector Rodriguez each had hits.

Man of the Match: Ricardo Garcia

From the Office of the County Clerk: G126 - Astros @ Phillies

Honestly? I don't mind the Phillies. I don't mind their fans - they did a lot of suffering before their recent run of success. I generally don't mind their players. I hate their media (with the exception of Paul Hagen). And THAT'S what makes this so fun. Astros win again, 3-2.

*The Astros' last six wins (four in a row, and two against the Mets) have been one-run games. Coming into this little stretch, the Astros were 10-13 in one-run games. That's now 16-13.

*That's four straight road wins, first since a four-game road sweep of the Reds on August 7-10, 2008.

*Did Happ out-duel Halladay? Well, not necessarily. Happ gave up 5H/2ER in 6.1IP, with 4K:2BB, and needed 104 pitches. Halladay threw 7IP, 6H/3ER, 6K:0BB, and came out after 73 pitches.

*Neither allowed a hit for quite some time. Pence got the first hit - for both sides - in the top of the 4th, with a homer off Halladay. The first hit Happ allowed was a homer to Jayson Werth in the 5th.

*Halladay threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 26 Astros. Happ threw the FPS to 16 of 25 Phillies.

*Lyon recorded a six-out save. It's the second time he's gotten six outs this season, and his first six-out save since June 26, 2003 against the Tigers (when he was with Boston. That long ago.)

*The Astros hit two homers off Halladay - Pence and, unbelievably, Michael Bourn. Halladay has pitched in 135 games in which he allowed at least one home run. It's only the 33rd game he's allowed two homers.

*Chris Johnson had another 2-hit game. So after getting three hits in 28 ABs from August 17-23, he now has six hits in his last 10 ABs.

*Quintero had a nice game last night, going 2x3 with the game-winning RBI. It's the fourth go-ahead hit he's had this season. Quintero also picked off Ben Francisco at 3B to end the 7th inning. That was, uh, important, as the Phillies had the top of the order coming up with Francisco on 3rd and and Ruiz on 1st. Quintero's six pick-offs lead the Majors.

*And we should congratulate Hunter Pence on hitting his 20th homer of the season. It's the third straight season he's reached 20HR.

*Pence's 70HR since 2008 are one behind Carlos Lee for most on the team in that span.

*Pitch Count Hero: Hunter Pence (1x4) - 18 pitches in four PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Brett Wallace (0x3) and Humberto Quintero (0x3) - six pitches in three PAs.

*Man of the Match: Could go to Happ, but it goes to Humberto Quintero!

*Goat of the Game: Brett Wallace, I'm sorry. 0x3. Six pitches. Didn't get the ball out of the infield. Use this, and learn.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vote for Astros County!

Vote for Astros County in the Houston Press' Best of Houston 2010 survey! We've never won anything - collectively, or individually - and this is just the sort of thing for our ego.

MiLB on the Hooks

Nice little article on the Hooks, and the adversity they had to overcome themselves to overcome (remember the L17 streak).

Wes Clements:
"There's some new energy. J.D. (Martinez) has made an impact in the middle of the lineup, and (Albert) Cart(wright) has done that at the top of the lineup, and he's played a very good second base, as well. It's kind of a credit to the whole club for not assuming this half was over. We have an opportunity to still make the playoffs, and nobody would have believed it."

Martinez, on Double-A competition:
"It's still baseball, but it's a lot more refined. You're not just seeing talent out there, you're seeing talent with a brain. They know what they're trying to accomplish."

Astros claim Matt Downs off waivers

The Astros claimed Giants utility man Matt Downs off waivers, after DFAing him in favor of Cody Ross from the Marlins.

Downs is a 26-year old 6'2" 190lb righty, drafted by the Giants in 2006.

In 417 minor-league games, Downs has posted a .300/.361/.482 line, and a .280/.339/.460 line in 789PAs at Triple-A. In 56 games (228 PAs) for Triple-A Fresno this season, he hit .254/.348/.416, after hitting .300/.343/.491 in 2009. His K:BB ratio is under 2.00, and he has played 2B/3B/SS this season.

Downs will report to Round Rock.

The San Francisco Chronicle, on Downs:
Downs is a nice player who projects as a big-league utility infielder. The Giants will not necessarily lose him. If he clears waivers, the Giants can send him back to Fresno outright and he would have no choice but to accept because this would be his first outright assignment.

Whoops, Giants.

Brian Moehler done for year, wants to come back

Brian Moehler has elected to have surgery on his lower abdomen September 1 in Philadelphia after feeling discomfort in his first rehab start in Round Rock last night.

“I’d like to play next year, but we’ll see what happens."

With Myers, Wandy (presumably), Happ, Norris, and Paulino/Wright/Lyles, I can't see room for Moehler on the 2011 staff.

The Astros and the Second Time Around

So the Astros will face Roy Halladay for the 2nd time this season, and the pants-pissing has already started. This got us wondering, which inevitably leads to charts and Baseball Reference, how the Astros do the second time around against a starting pitcher.

It's happened 25 times this season:
Tommy Hanson, Ted Lilly, Carlos Silva (3x), Ryan Dempster (3x), Randy Wells, Aaron Harang, Mike Leake (3x), Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez, Randy Wolf (3x), Dave Bush (4x), Manny Parra, Yovani Gallardo, Paul Maholm (3x), Ross Ohlendorf (3x), Mat Latos, Jon Garland, Tim Lincecum (3x), Barry Zito (3x), Matt Cain, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse, and C.J. Wilson.

Let's break it down.

First time the Astros faced a pitcher they would eventually see again in 2010 (make sense?) Keep in mind, we're only taking into account how the starting pitcher fared - not the bullpen.

The Astros have faced 25 pitchers multiple times this season. So, let's get some stats from the first go-round:

169.2IP, 134H/40ER, 117K:34BB (and a 9-16 record in those games), 2.13 ERA/0.99 WHIP

The second time the starting pitcher faced the Astros in 2010:

154.1IP, 134H/47ER, 106K:58BB (10-15 record), 2.74 ERA/1.25 WHIP

The third time the starting pitcher faced the Astros in 2010 (9 instances):

49.1IP, 68H/30ER, 35K:18BB (6-3 record), 5.50 ERA/1.74 WHIP

Make of it what you will.

Byrdak may need off-season surgery, Lindstrom stubborn

Tim Byrdak is dealing with some abdominal/lower back issues that may need some off-season surgery.

Byrdak (and McTaggart):
"It's nothing I can't handle, but it's a nagging deal. If it's tight [near his lower abdomen], it's pulling at other places. If I could get that to relax, maybe everything else would relax and maybe it takes the focus off that more. I've never had anything like this."

Byrdak, who had cortisone shots in May and then again in early June to help his back, hopes to get an MRI at some point to help diagnose the problem. He said he might have even explore having surgery in the offseason to fix the problem.

"It's responded pretty well, but it's a nagging thing. You want to wake up and feel pretty good. You just want to wake up and not feel anything and be good to go. We're still going to get to that point and making adjustments here and there and doing what I can do."

We also read that Lindstrom was a little stubborn in addressing his back injury:
"You don't plan on things like this happening. I probably should have tried to get it fixed a little bit earlier, but I've been stubborn. There are certain things you can battle through and certain things you can't, and this is one of those things."

McTaggart notes that Lindstrom was dealing with back problems for "weeks."

Jayson Werth was entranced by Brett Myers' tongue

Interesting story on why Werth was picked off second by Quintero in Monday night's game:

But it wasn't that Myers made room for the throw down to second that stands out. Since Myers was involved, it came as little surprise that before Myers threw ball four, he turned and wagged his tongue at Werth on second. Kind of silly, but in a way, it worked.

"That's what put me on my heels," Werth said. "But the big reason it happened was, while I still had a field of vision, Brett was in my direct line of the catcher and [Quintero] threw the ball. It was Brett, [Quintero] and [Ruiz], all in the same periphery. So I didn't see anything. I did remember saying, 'What's that?' and see the ball at the pitcher's mound. I was dead at that point.

"The whole time, I was thinking, 'After he threw the first pitch, if he doesn't pay attention here, I could probably steal third.' I'm still thinking like that before that [fourth] pitch, then he looks at me and ... I was smiling as the ball was on its way. So between that and the little smokescreen where I got shielded on -- and that was the main reason -- it was terrible."

Wallace, on his mental fortitude

In Zach Levine's Notes Column, we hear from Brett Wallace about getting some time off as his average settles at .200.

"The biggest thing is you have to believe in yourself, and obviously I know I can hit and I have confidence. The biggest thing for me is just to keep working, just keep grinding out at-bats and not put too much pressure on myself. I'm not too worried about it. If you believe in yourself, you're not going to get too high or too low."

In his first 14 games with the Astros, Wallace was hitting .294/.385/.353 with a .417 BABIP. Since August 15, he's hitting .097/.176/.097, but with a .176 BABIP (and also with 14K:0BB). So he's been a touch unlucky lately.

Wates' X-Rays negative

Good news from Austin Wates, whose X-rays after the HBP last night were negative.

Crashburn Alley, on G125

Excellent take from Crashburn Alley on last night's/this morning's game with Philadelphia:

Most of the time, an umpire ejecting a player from a game is not a big deal, even if it was a knee-jerk decision. However, this game was very unique not only because it was the bottom of the fourteenth inning, but because the Phillies were out of regular players (including relievers as they had sent Kyle Kendrick to the bullpen as an emergency arm). Consider the context as well: the Phillies are right in the middle of a playoff race both for the division (two and a half games behind the Atlanta Braves entering tonight) and for the Wild Card (one game ahead of the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals).

It doesn’t matter what Howard says and does short of physical violence, he stays in the game. The umpire sucks it up and doesn’t put his ego ahead of the credibility of Major League Baseball games. Scott Barry didn’t do that. As Meech described, Barry had the gall to mock Howard before ejecting him with the shortest fuse known to man...

...And let’s give credit where credit is due: Bud Norris pitched effectively, as did Cole Hamels. Both teams’ bullpens were near-immaculate. You can’t fault David Herndon for the way the top of the sixteenth went as none of the Astros’ hits left the infield. The Phillies’ #2, 3, 5 and 6 hitters combined for eight of the ten hits and drew five of the ten walks. Hunter Pence continues to kill the Phillies (1.081 OPS against entering tonight, highest against any team against which he’s logged 25 or more plate appearances).

Excellent recap, excellent analysis. I thought bloggers were supposed to be the ones with moronic, inflammatory, asinine statements. Not the mainstream media.

Requisite "Homegrown Boy Returns" article on Happ

The Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagen has a good article on former Phillie (another rule, we will never use unnecessary "Ph"s in reference to to Phillies. Pho sho.) J.A. Happ.

Happ, on preparing for tonight's game against Halladay:
"I've certainly thought about it. I think we know it's going to be a packed house, because it always is. That's going to be great. I don't know. I'm going to do my best to try to control those emotions. It's going to be weird. I'll try to treat it like just another game. It's strange, but hopefully it will be fun."

Happ, on his level of intensity:
"I try to keep my emotions in check, but I don't want that to be mistaken for lack of intensity. In my opinion, I'm as intense as anybody. Just because I'm not fiery, so to speak. But inside, I want to win as much as anybody."

"I got a text from Doc [after the trade]. He said, 'You're going to love this guy, Arnie. Great work habits. Very good learner.' And Doc hit the nail on the head," he said.

"The one thing I'm trying to help with this kid is the confidence. He doubts himself sometimes, he gets mad at himself. I told him something the other day Dusty Baker said to me once. 'Try a little less hard.' We're so good as athletes that trying harder and harder and harder, nobody really knows how to back down a little bit."

More Umpire Rage in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Daily News' Sam Donnellon:

Scott Barry will be the second-base umpire and Greg Gibson will be checking checked swings at third when the Phillies resume their thrilling series with the last-place Central Division Houston Astros tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

For fans unable to take their eyes off the two after the events of the last 2 nights, be forewarned: This might be one of the last chances to see the two together on the same field. That's because when he's not ejecting major league stars for the first or second time in their careers, Barry spends most of his time umpiring minor league games.

Gibson? He spends his off hours hiding behind a rule that really doesn't seem to exist, or at least operates more as a guideline...

...Barry's happy thumb, which began early and continued often last night, rung up Howard on two body bends that sure didn't look like swings.

But that's hardly the point. Yes, Gibson has never seen an ankle-high pitch he didn't like and yes, Barry seems to have his thumb up as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.

But the problem is not their incompetency. It's their obstinacy.

Unless the Astros, with the win, lost four games to the Cubs and 14.5 games to the Pirates, they're safely in 4th place. Nit-picky? Hell, and yes, it is.

PhillyMedia is taking these two games personally

Specifically, Joe Vallee of Let's take a peek, shall we?

I don't know what is more humiliating. Watching the "offensive powerhouse" known as the Phillies (who constantly fail to gain ANY ground on the first place Braves) score just four runs in 25 innings to the lowly Houston (Triple A) Astros, or watching baseball's ever increasing arrogance and incompetence of the men who umpire the game...

...Losing to a team with (at best) three proven major league starters (Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, and poster child for ritalin Hunter Pence) is a disgrace...

...All of this can be solved by instant replay. However, Bud Selig (possibly THE worst commissioner in the history of baseball) will have none of it. He may have been a great owner for the Brewers, but has there EVER been a commissioner SO out of touch with the state of his sport? He makes General Motors look like Microsoft. It's time to put egos aside and see what is going to improve baseball.

The rant regarding the umpiring and Bud Selig is in reference to the Bourn call (a bad call, yes) Monday night, and the ejections last night. Yep, it's everyone else's fault. Including the Astros, who are so terrible that Selig shouldn't have even made the Phillies play the game last night. No, it doesn't matter that the Phillies left 17 on base last night.

Eddie's Farm: August 24

Round Rock

Round Rock got all their runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 3-2 win over Oklahoma City. Brian Bogusevic led off the 9th with a single, Chris Shelton walked, Collin DeLome walked, German Duran got HBPed (scoring Bogusevic, 3-1), Edwin Maysonet singled (Kata, running for Duran, scored), and Esposito reached on a throwing error by first baseman Chris Davis, scoring DeLome. Brian Moehler threw 3IP, 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB, but left with a hurt groin, so Shane Loux came in for the next 6IP, allowing 3H/2R (1ER), 2K:1BB and the win. Shuck, Navarro, Locke, Bogusevic, and Maysonet provided all your hits. Interestingly enough, the top four in the lineup had a hit each, while all three RBI were provided by 6-7-8.

Man of the Match: Shane Loux


Corpus took a 1-0 lead in the first, and promptly gave three runs back to Midland on their way to a 5-1 loss. Dallas Keuchel threw 6IP, 8H/5R (4ER), 4K:2BB - getting ten groundouts to four flyouts. Matt Nevarez walked three, but emerged from the 7th unscathed, and Evan Englebrook threw a perfect 8th. Freddy Parejo, J.D. Martinez, Jon Gaston, Mike Affronti, and Lou Santangelo got two hits each, but Santangelo had the only extra-base hit, a double. Gaston provided the only RBI.

Man of the Match: Jon Gaston


This wasn't pretty either. Ross Seaton got rocked, and the JetHawks fell 10-4, after an 8-run first by Lake Elsinore. Seaton allowed 6H/7R (1 courtesy of Brian Wabick), 0K:1BB in 0.2IP. Wabick allowed 5H/2ER, 1K:4BB in 3.1IP. Luckily, a bullpen of Wolf, Godfrey, Berner, and the debut of David Carpenter combined for 3H/1ER, 2K:2BB in 4IP. Andy Simunic had your only extra-base hit, and Austin, Altuve, and Jonathan Villar provided the RBI.

Man of the Match: Andy Simunic


This time it was Augusta's turn to rally late. Lexington took a 4-0 lead in the first, but Augusta scored four in the 8th and one in the 9th for a 5-4 win over the Legends. Jose Cisnero had a strong outing - 7IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB - completely wasted by Yordany Ramirez (0.1IP, 2H/3ER, 1K:1BB) and Wander Alvino (1IP, 2H/2ER, 0K:1BB). Alvino allowed two runs charged to Yordany, and Colton Pitkin allowed a run charged to Alvino. Jiovanni Mier and Jake Goebbert (RBI) had two hits each, while Kody Hinze hit a three-run homer - his fourth homer since the end of May. Our Boy Aaron Bray - playing LF - was 0x3 with a walk.

Man of the Match: Jose Cisnero


Drama in Connecticut, as a Tiger error leads to the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th. ValleyCats win 5-4. Bobby Doran allowed 9H/4ER, 4K:0BB in 4.2IP, and the bullpen of Blankenship, Walker, Sogard, and De Leon held the Tigers to 5H/0ER, 10K:0BB in the next 6.1IP. Dan Adamson hit his 9th homer of the season, and Enrique Hernandez and Tyler Burnett provided the other RBI. Hernandez and Orloff - who scored the winning run - were 1x4 with 2BB each. Austin Wates was hit by a Josue Carreno pitch, likely leading to X-Rays.

Man of the Match: Dan Adamson


All the scoring was taken care of by the middle of the 2nd, and despite getting outhit 10-3, Greeneville beat Princeton, 2-1. Vincent Velasquez allowed 3.2IP, 4H/1ER - a solo homer to Cesar Guillen. Travis Smink gave up 4H/0ER, 3K:0BB, and Brian Streilein allowed 2H/0ER, 2K:1BB for his 4th save of the year. Delino DeShields, Ricardo Heredia, and Hector Rodriguez had your hits. Both Greeneville runs were unearned.

Man of the Match: Travis Smink

From the Office of the County Clerk - G125: Astros @ Phillies

I blame Wilton Lopez. The first time he allows a run since the first Bush administration, and the game goes seven extra innings. Still, the Astros get at least a split with a 4-2 win.

*The Astros are now 7-4 in extra-inning games. In games that go 11+ innings, they're 3-1. It's the longest game (inning-wise) since July 6, 2008 - a 7-6 loss at Atlanta.

*Yeah, so Wilton Lopez. His scoreless streak was a League-high (21IP) until last night. And he was only an out away - Jimmy Rollins hit a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game and send it to extras.

*It was the second homer Rollins had hit with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, last doing it against Eddie Guardado in August 2006, but it only brought the Phillies to a 7-9 deficit. It's his 4th homer in the 9th in which the Phillies were behind.

*Lopez has only allowed seven home runs in his career - three of them against Philly. Of the three homers he's allowed in 2010, two are against Philly, and all three have come on the road.

*This is incredible: Despite allowing 5H/1ER, 4K:3BB, Bud Norris only threw first-pitch strikes to seven of the 26 batters he faced. When throwing that FPS, the Phillies were 3x6, BB.

*Norris went eight straight batters without throwing a first-pitch strike.

*Fernando Abad had a strong outing - 2IP, 1H/0ER, 3K:0BB, and Mark Melancon threw 3IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:2BB, WP.

*Fulchino walked three (two intentionally) in 2IP.

*So the first nine innings saw this (from an offensive POV):
Houston: 9IP, 6H/2ER, 9K:2BB
Philly: 9IP, 7H/2ER, 5K:5BB

And then in extras:
Houston: 7IP, 3H/0ER, 8K:5BB
Philly: 7IP, 8H/2ER, 4K:2BB

*Big bats of the game were Chris Johnson (4x6, BB, RBI), and Hunter Pence (3x6, BB). Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer in the 4th, his 17th of the year.

*Carlos Lee has had a pretty hot month. In 22 games in August (85ABs), Lee has 25 hits, 10 extra-base hits, 19RBI, 7K:7BB.

*The catchers (Quintero and Castro) each went 0x3, but Ryan Howard went 0x7 by himself, with 5Ks. It's his first 5K game of his career.

*How the Astros won in the 16th: Pence (infield single), Wallace (HBP), WP advances both to 2nd/3rd, Michaels (IBB), Johnson (RBI infield single), Manzella (RBI fielder's choice). Two runs, nothing out of the infield.

*Pitch Count Hero: Chris Johnson (4x6, BB) - 37 pitches in seven PAs

*Pitch Count Punk: Carlos Lee (1x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Chris Johnson!

*Goat of the Game: Tommy Manzella - 1x7 and 0x3 w/RISP.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Video of Jordan Lyles

Might I invite you to open a new tab (because you don't want to be Astros County-less) and head over to Farmstros, where Deputy Street has posted a video of Jordan Lyles at Tacoma?

Moehler assigned to Round Rock

Sho nuff, Brian Moehler has been assigned to Round Rock for a rehab appearance.

With the possible return of Brian Moehler, will that be enough to keep Jordan Lyles out of Houston until the Spring?

Baseball America, on Lyles

Baseball America has a new post (and captip to Appy Astros for the link) on the youngest players in Triple-A, and Jordan Lyles is on the list:

Jumping straight from low Class A to Double-A did not slow down Astros righthander Jordan Lyles. The 19-year-old went 7-9, 3.12 with a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Corpus Christi this season, fanning 115 in 127 innings. Houston responded by promoting Lyles to Triple-A, where he became the PCL's youngest pitcher, an honor held earlier this season by Madison Bumgarner. Roughed up for nine runs on 19 hits in his first two starts for Round Rock (7.59 ERA), Lyles limited Oklahoma City to two runs over six innings in his most recent start on Saturday. Despite the positive result, he might be running out of gas. Lyles didn't strike out any of the 23 RedHawks batters he faced, though he walked only one and hit another with a pitch.

News flash: Baseball doesn't trust bloggers

The highly-esteemed Maury Brown published a report by UT Doctoral Candidate (and part-time Express scribe) Avery Holton that shows baseball doesn't necessarily trust bloggers.

Maury Brown:
Baseball front offices are starting to harness the power of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and they agree that independent bloggers are important to future coverage, but they have been slow to embrace independent bloggers. According to Holton, there is a perception that independent bloggers are mere fans who don't need a press pass to do their job.

"Independent bloggers wanting more access to teams need to continue to advance their credibility through trust and by moving themselves out of the fan category and into the social media arena. Bloggers may be able to achieve this by delivering original, newsworthy content, beefing up their site to reflect the most current in digital media, tracking and reporting increases in their daily site traffic and interacting with baseball front offices on Facebook and Twitter."

This is interesting. There are a few things that we at Astros County won't do. Among them:

1. Push for more followers on Twitter
2. Talk about our site traffic (except for the time we were pretty excited about reaching 100,000 visitors).

So, while we are always trying to deliver original and newsworthy content, we're not interested in pimping ourselves to achieve a press pass. In the same regard, it would be great to make enough money (or even any money, at all) to quit our jobs and pursue Astros County full time. But The Constable is in Nashville, so he's kind of screwed - unless the Astros move the Triple-A franchise to Nashville. If that happens, Houston Chronicle, you'll be getting an email. The rest of us like what we do in real life, and just like to talk about the Astros.

No, we tend to follow the Will Leitch Philosophy of blogging. We do this for fun, and there's a difference between being willing to sell, and being willing to sell out.

Some quotes on the Astros/Corpus extension

Nice set of quotes from the Hooks on the news of the PDC extension through 2016 with the Astros.

CEO Reid Ryan:
This is a great day for Ryan-Sanders Baseball and the Corpus Christi Hooks. The extension further strengthens our great relationship with the Astros. Most importantly, it means that for the next six seasons our fans in the Coastal Bend will be able to continue following the progress of their Hooks as they ascend to the Major Leagues. We have been blessed with a terrific fan base in Corpus Christi and I'm extremely proud of Ken Schrom and the rest of our front-office staff at Whataburger Field. Corpus Christi was an Astros town for 40 years before it was a Hooks town and that dynamic has been an important factor in our success."

Ricky Bennett:
"Corpus Christi has been an integral part of our player development system since 2005, and the fan base that has grown in that area since then is just as important as the growth our players have had while at the Double-A level. We are excited about preserving our valued relationship with Ryan-Sanders Baseball and the City of Corpus Christi for the next six seasons."

With the Rangers' Double-A team in Frisco, it didn't make any sense for the Rangers to target the other Nolan Ryan (who is baseball's version of Uncle Pennybags) franchise.

Drew Locke is your PCL Player of the Week

Drew Locke got the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Week honors yesterday, with his 11x22 (five doubles, 2HR), 8K:1BB, 7RBI week.

The release notes that, with the road sweep of Portland, it's only the third time since 2005 the Express have managed to do that.

Eddie's Farm: August 23

Round Rock

Round Rock rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 7th to tie Oklahoma City at 4-4, but Alex Cora (who is hilariously still wearing a Mets hat in his MiLB profile) hit a homer in the 9th inning off Gary Majewski for the 5-4 win over Round Rock. Yorman Bazardo allowed 6H/4ER, 5K:3BB in 6.1IP, and Majewski gave up 2H/1ER, 1K:0BB in 2.2IP of relief. Oklahoma City's Derek Holland threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:3BB. However, Oswaldo Navarro was 4x5 with a double, homer, and 2RBI. Edwin Maysonet (2x3, BB) and Collin DeLome (1x5, RBI) had your other hits. Brian Bogusevic was 0x3, and is hitting .179/.304/.282 over his last ten games.

Man of the Match: Oswaldo Navarro


Arkansas scored in four different innings, overcoming a 2-1 Corpus lead, for a 5-3 win. Henry Villar threw 5H/3ER, 1K:2BB in 5IP. Jared Wells threw 3H/2R (1ER), 1K:0BB and Jose Valdez threw two perfect innings to close it out. The Hooks committed four errors - Cartwright, Sutil, Santangelo, and Clemens. Lou Santangelo was 2x4, while David Cook (1x4, BB) and Albert Cartwright (1x3, 2BB) provided your RBIs.

Man of the Match: Albert Cartwright.


High Desert worked over Lancaster for a 10-3 win. Leandro Cespedes allowed 5H/6R (4ER), 2K:4BB, and a balk in 1.2IP; Ashton Mowdy walked two in 3.1IP - getting out of an inherited bases loaded jam without allowing a run; Mike Modica gave up 5H/3ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP; Jose Trinidad gave up 2H/1ER in 1IP; and Edwin Walker allowed 2H/0ER in 1IP. Brandon Barnes swung the big bat, going 3x4 with three doubles, a walk, stolen base, and an RBI. Brandon Wikoff was 2x5.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes


Lexington was down 6-2 heading into the 7th, and scored six runs over the next three innings for an 8-6 win over Augusta. Juan Minaya threw 5IP, 6H/5R (4ER), 5K:2BB, 3WP; Brenden Stines allowed 2H/1ER, 3BB in 2IP, and Colton Pitkin provided the 8th inning bridge to Kirk Clark, who recorded his 28th save of the season. It was the top of the order doing the damage, as Jimmy Paredes, Jiovanni Mier, and Jake Goebbert each had two hits. Ben Heath was 2x4 with a double and a walk. Our Boy Aaron Bray went 0x4, but had 2RBI to reach 40RBI on the season. Renzo Tello hit a three-run double in the 9th for the go-ahead RBIs. The bases were loaded up for Tello on Ben Heath's single, and Jonathan Meyer and Miguel Arrendell's two-out walks.

Man of the Match: Renzo Tello


Tri-City scored early and often in their 10-3 win over Connecticut. Carlos Quevedo allowed 4H/2R (1ER), 4K:1BB, WP in 6IP. Adam Champion, Jason Chowning, and Joan Belliard combined for 3H/0ER in relief. Marcus Nidiffer (SB) - who probably ought to go to Lancaster in 2011 - and Austin Wates (double, RBI) had three hits each. Adam Bailey was 2x5 with a double, homer, and 4RBI. Chris Wallace hit his first homer for the ValleyCats, and Orloff (SB), Adamson, and Kvasnicka provided your other RBIs.

Man of the Match: Adam Bailey


Princeton edged Greeneville on a 12th inning homer to win 4-3. Ricardo Batista allowed 5H/3R (2ER), 3K:3BB, WP in 6IP. Angel Gonzalez (2BB) and Phil Rorabaugh (H, K) threw an inning each. Garrett Bullock allowed 4H/0ER, 4K:1BB in 3IP, and Jeiler Castillo gave up the game-winning HR. Telvin Nash was 3x5 with a two-run homer (hitting .324/.405/.595 in his last ten games), while Delino DeShields and Jhonny Medrano each had two hits and a walk. Catcher Carlos Mojica had a rough night, going 0x5 with two throwing errors and a passed ball. Emilio King had two outfield assists to kind of off-set the 0x5, 4K game he had at the plate.

Man of the Match: Telvin Nash.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G124: Astros @ Phillies

Well, well. This was an interesting game, between Jayson Werth falling asleep on second base to Michael Bourn running to Trenton to avoid Ryan Howard's tag. Astros steal one, 3-2.

*Brett Myers took advantage of his chance to stick it to the Phillies, throwing 7IP (26 starts with 18+ outs, ties Larry Dierker's franchise record), allowing 9H/2ER, 9K:1BB.

*Myers' career K:BB ratio, from 2002 to 2009 was 2.39. This year, that has been bumped to 2.72. Since July, his K:BB ratio has been 3.69.

*He's typically good for one rough inning, and last night that inning was the third. Having struck out the side in the 2nd, Carlos Ruiz hit a 2-0 pitch to left to tie the game at one. Joe Blanton and Jimmy Rollins hit singles, and Victorino grounded into a fielder's choice - getting Blanton at home. Chase Utley brought in Rollins with a single, and Myers got Howard to strike out. Not so bad as bad innings go, but the Phillies took the lead and Joe Blanton was rolling.

*Blanton allowed 6H/1ER, 9K:0BB, throwing 68 of his 100 pitches for strikes. His 70 Game Score was the highest an opposing pitcher has thrown, and the Astros won the game, since Ryan Dempster's 73 on April 18 for the Cubs.

*Last night was the 23rd time the opposing starting pitcher has thrown a 70+ Game Score.

*So, to the 8th. Jason Michaels led off the inning with a pinch-hit single to right. Bourn "reaches" on a bunt single in which he ran out of the basepath, but is incredibly called safe. Angel Sanchez sac'ed them both over one base. Hunter Pence struck out swinging (his 23rd K w/RISP). Carlos Lee drove them both in with a single, to take the lead and provide the margin of victory.

*It was Carlos Lee's 18th go-ahead hit of the season.

*Since the beginning of the Mets series (eight games), the Astros have had 18 RBI. Pence and Lee have been responsible for 14 of them.

*And finally, congratulations to Michael Bourn. He had three hits between August 13 and August 21, and has five in his last two games, thanks to his 3x4 night (the fifth time he's had 3+ hits this season).

*Pitch Count Hero: Angel Sanchez (1x3) - 20 pitches in three PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Michael Bourn (3x4) - 9 pitches in four PAs.

*Man of the Match: Brett Myers.

*Goat of the Game: Going with Brett Wallace here. He's 2x22 over the last week, and his average is under .200.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Astros @ Phillies series preview, with Crashburn Alley

(Note: This post has been moved up in preparation for tonight's game. New news follows...)

Our favorite Phillies blog is easily Crashburn Alley. Today we talk with Bill Baer about the Phillies, Ed Wade, and the upcoming four-game set. (By the by, you can read our responses to CA's questions here)

AC: What is the typical Phillies fan's opinion of Ed Wade - sometimes we feel like we're the only ones in the world who actually think he's doing a pretty good job. How much credit should Wade get for the Phillies' World Series ring? How long of a leash should Astros fans give him?

CA: Most Phillies fans think of him as a joke because he was at the helm of so many bad teams during his time in Philadelphia. His motif was acquiring veteran relief pitchers when there was never a need as the team was frequently below .500 and out of the playoff hunt. He also traded Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen for next-to-nothing but I would argue that those trades were necessary regardless of what they got in return, similar to the Bobby Abreu trade.

Wade should actually get some -- not a lot, but some -- credit for the Phillies winning it all in 2008 as he was in charge when the core was drafted: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, etc. I'd give most of that credit to Mike Arbuckle, now with the Kansas City Royals.

Astros fans should extend that leash through the next couple seasons because they don't have any other choice. The team is in rebuilding mode. If they win 75 games next year the season can be considered a success.

AC: Brett Myers has been a stud for the Astros this season, turning 25 good starts into a potential $30m+ deal. To what do you attribute Myers' resurgence, and is it for real?

CA: Myers was chronically underappreciated as a starter in Philly due to his 2005 season that he never duplicated. He's not quite as good as his ERA says he's been, but if you expect a 3.75-ish ERA then you should be quite content with him.

I wouldn't call his performance this year a "resurgence". Most of his success stems from a reduced HR/FB rate, which is at eight percent last year compared to a 15 percent career average. It's not due to his being away from Philadelphia as his home/road splits are similar throughout his career, and it's not like the Astros home stadium is a pitcher's ballpark (116 home run park factor for right-handed batters according to so I'd attribute the reduced HR/FB rate to luck. In other words, expect him to be more homer-happy going forward.

AC: As you're lucky enough to be in the middle of a playoff hunt, what are your thoughts on how the rest of the season plays out in the NL East?

CA: The Phillies are no strangers to tight playoff races as they won the NL East on the very last day of the season in 2007 and on the last weekend in '08. Now that the Phillies are almost fully healthy, they are in great shape to make another late-season surge towards the division crown.

I was in charge of writing both the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves' season preview for Baseball Daily Digest and my conclusion was that the Braves were going to be tough all year long if they could stay healthy. They did, for most of the season, and got more than they expected out of some of their marginal players like Omar Infante.

Over the remaining six weeks, though, I don't think they will have the requisite offense to keep up with the Phillies. The Phillies also have a superior starting rotation, play better defense, and run the bases better and more efficiently (their trademark during the Davey Lopes era). I think the Phillies ultimately win the division and the Braves miss the playoffs.

AC: After three weeks of watching Oswalt, what are the early returns, and where does he fit down the stretch and into 2011?

CA: Oswalt admitted he had a "dead arm" which explains his six-inning, five-run debut against the Washington Nationals and a four-walk performance against the Marlins his next time out. Since then, though, he's been exactly what we expected -- a legitimate #1-B behind Roy Halladay. The addition of Oswalt means the Phillies' starting pitching can match up with anybody's especially in the post-season.

It's nice to have Oswalt for another year (another two years if the Phillies want to pick up his $16 million club option in 2012). GM Ruben Amaro doesn't get a lot of credit -- and I've been among his many critics -- but he's been mindful of the future as well as the present. Many GM's become myopic and only see the current season's finish line when they're in the middle of a playoff race. As such, you see a lot of puzzling moves in July and August. The acquisition of both Cliff Lee last year and Oswalt this year are two of the least puzzling transactions made in that span of time.

AC: We're a somewhat insecure fanbase, and are constantly wondering what other fans think about us. So, if you give any thought to Houston at all, give us an outsider's viewpoint on the organization.

CA: I don't think Philadelphia pays any attention to Houston, honestly, since the Astros are in the NL Central and haven't been relevant to the team's playoff chances. However, don't think we haven't forgotten what Craig Biggio did to Billy Wagner on September 7, 2005. The Phillies were right in the middle of the NL Wild Card chase with the Astros. Going into that game, the Phillies were 73-66 and the Astros were 74-64. The Astros had taken the first two games of the series by a margin of one run each -- the Phillies were looking to salvage the series and stay a half-game behind.

The Phillies were ahead 6-5 going into the ninth inning. Wagner got the first two outs of the inning easily. But Jose Vizcaino reached on an error by David Bell and Willy Taveras reached on an infield single. Then Biggio came up and hit a three-run home run to put the Astros ahead 8-6. Brad Lidge would then retire the side easily in the bottom of the ninth.

The Phillies played extremely well after that game, winning 15 of their final 22 games, but finished one game behind the Astros for the Wild Card. That home run by Biggio literally cost us a playoff spot. And we -- or maybe just me -- haven't forgotten, or forgiven.

AC: How do you see this series playing out?

CA: Phillies fans won't be happy unless the Astros are swept, but I can see the 'stros taking one of the games. Given Wandy Rodriguez's recent run of success and the fact that Kyle Kendrick is the worst pitcher in the rotation, the final game of the series seems winnable for the Astros.

Joe Blanton has pitched much better as of late and is traditionally a second-half pitcher so I can see him out-dueling Brett Myers in the series opener.

Cole Hamels, his last start excepting, has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since May. Unfortunately, the Phillies don't score many runs for him. However, Bud Norris issues a lot of walks and he'll be facing the Phillies' regulars now that everyone is healthy.

And I definitely don't see J.A. Happ out-pitching Roy Halladay in the third game of the series. I'll say the Phillies win 3 out of 4, losing the series finale.

Big thanks to Crashburn Alley for taking the time to ask, and respond.

Astros and Hooks extend PDC

Good news for Hooks fans, and Corpus Christi-based Astros fans, as the Hooks have announced the extension of their Player Development Contract through 2016.

Suck it, Rangers.

Astros spend right at slot

Baseball America's Jim Callis has the breakdown of where teams spent their money in the draft, and compared it to the overall slot recommendations.

The results?

The Astros spent the 11th-highest amount of money on the first ten rounds of the draft (12 picks) at $6,513,530. What was the slot recommendation for their picks? $6,528,900. So the Astros went under slot by $15,370.

19 teams went over slot proving, once again, just how effective the slot recommendations are. /sarcasm.

The Dodgers went over slot by 224%, thanks largely to Zach Lee's last-minute signing.

Roy: Pitching in Philly is easier

Stay tuned later this afternoon as we post a Q&A with Crashburn Alley in which we talk about the Phillies, Astros, Ed Wade, and the upcoming four game series. In the meantime, we read that Roy compares his experience in Philly this season to the Astros in 2004 and 2005, and that it's easier to pitch in Philadelphia:

"It feels easier. I don't know if it's just the surroundings or [being] back into a pennant race. Any time you have the adrenaline going and the team is playing well behind you, it just adds that much more when you are pitching."

Wandy may be getting a long-term deal

Zach Levine's Notes Column this morning tells us that the Astros are planning on making Wandy a long-term deal:

Astros general manager Ed Wade met with representatives for Wandy Rodriguez this weekend in South Florida and said that Rodriguez's party had asked to discuss the lefthander's long-term future with the club.

Wade said, however, that specific discussions with Rodriguez's agent Barry Praver would take place after the season. Rodriguez said Sunday that it's his desire to remain with the Astros, where he has played his entire career.

What's a realistic goal for Wandy? He's making $5m this year, and he's also 31 years old. Would he go for three years, and $20m? Would you make/take that offer?
We also find that Paulino's shoulder seems to be doing better, after a long toss session at 90 feet returned positive results.

"We're going to take our time on that one. We'd like to get him back on the mound before the season is over, but it's not something we're pressing him to do."

Robby Donovan placed on DL

Lancaster's Robby Donovan has been placed on the DL, and new JetHawk David Carpenter has been activated to take his place.

Eddie's Farm: August 22

Round Rock

Dah! I hate it when Oklahoma City beats Round Rock, because then The Oklahoman tickles themselves with feathers and cackles with glee. Round Rock loses 4-2. Josh Banks threw 7IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:0BB, 2HR, WP, and Sergio Perez allowed 2H/1ER, 0K:1BB in 2IP. Drew Locke was 2x3 with a walk and his 17th homer of the year. Oswaldo Navarro and Collin DeLome had a double each.

Man of the Match: Drew Locke


That's more like it. Corpus rolls all over Arkansas, 10-2. Erick Abreu threw 7IP, 6H/0ER, 5K:1BB; Arcenio Leon allowed a hit, 2K:3BB, and 2ER in 1IP, and Jailen Peguero allowed a hit in 1IP. David Cook carried the big bat, with a 4x5 day that included two solo homers. Mike Affronti was 3x5 with 4RBI, and Albert Cartwright and Freddy Parejo had two hits each. J.D. Martinez was 1x4 with a walk, and Koby Clemens was 0x3 with 2BB. Jon Gaston hit his 11th homer of the year.

Man of the Match: David Cook


Lancaster jumped on High Desert early for a 13-7 win. Pat Urckfitz threw 5IP, 8H/2ER, 6K:1BB; Kyle Godfrey walked two, threw one wild pitch, and allowed two unearned runs; Brian Wabick threw two scoreless innings, and David Berner gave up 4H/3ER, 2K:1BB in 1IP.
Brandon Barnes was 3x6 with a double and 2HR (his 26th and 27th), driving in four runs, and getting an outfield assist. Jose Altuve was 3x5 with an RBI; Bryce Lane was 2x4 with a double, homer, and 3RBI. Jay Austin was 2x3 with a triple.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes


Though it was close for most of the game, Lexington never trailed, beating Augusta 8-2. Tanner Bushue allowed 3H/0ER, 4K:2BB in 6IP; Brad Dydalewicz allowed 4H/1R (0ER) in 2IP, and Dan Sarisky allowed 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 1IP. Our Boy Aaron Bray was 2x5 with a double and 3RBI, Jiovanni Mier was 2x3 with 2BB and an RBI, Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with a walk and an RBI, and Renzo Tello was 2x4.

Man of the Match: Our Boy Aaron Bray


Cancelled - rain


The Gastros rode a 4-run 3rd inning for a 5-2 win over Princeton. Ruben Alaniz allowed 4H/1ER, 5K:0BB; Paul Gerrish allowed three hits and an unearned run 0.1IP; Ryan Cole struck out five in 2.2IP, and Brian Streilein allowed a hit in 1IP. Telvin Nash was 1x4 with a two-run double, Roberto Pena added an RBI, and Delino DeShields was 1x4 with a double and 3Ks.

Man of the Match: Ruben Alaniz.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Diamondbacks sign Mike Hampton

So much for that youth movement, huh, Diamondbacks?

Arizona has signed Mike Hampton to a minor-league contract, and will be used primarily as a reliever.

And the average age of the Diamondbacks increases by 41 years.

Bernardo Fallas to leave Chronicle

Bernardo Fallas tweeted last night that, after six years with the Chronicle (and about nine months with the Astros), he's leaving to take a job as a reporter in the energy sector.

I had a chance to meet him earlier in the season, and Fallas was a very sincere guy, not to mention a good reporter. Best of luck to him in the future.

Moehler to pitch rehab starts

So Moehler has a schedule for his rehab starts:

Monday: Throw bullpen session in Houston

Monday night: 60-pitch start in Round Rock (which should get him 2-3 innings).

Tuesday: Rejoin Astros in Philadelphia

Next Sunday: Throw rehab start in San Antonio for Corpus

The rosters expand to 40 a week from this coming Wednesday, so if everything goes well, he will likely be added then.

Michael Bourn has no problem getting it up

It's keeping the bunt down that's the problem. (What? You thought I meant someone else?)

In Zach Levine's Notes Column, he talks about Michael Bourn and his current inability to get on base. Mills wants him to start bunting more:

He sat down with manager Brad Mills recently to watch film of bunting with the idea that more bunts might jump-start his game by forcing infielders out of normal position.

“It’s a situation where his legs are one of the biggest tools he has,” Mills said. “Any way a guy can incorporate the tools that he has into the game that he plays and how he goes about it (helps).”

Last season, 37 of Bourn’s balls in play were bunts — good for 7.8 percent of his total balls in play. This year, the 19 bunts in play represent only 5.5 percent. He had 17 bunt hits a year ago and entered Saturday with just six this year.

“I’ve been bunting a little bit more (lately), and sometimes I’m just not getting it down,” Bourn said.

Wates gets two hits

The Juvenile Court Clerk isn't available this morning, but it's worth noting that Austin Wates got his first two professional hits and his first RBI last night in a win over Aberdeen.

“I’m excited just to be out there out there after sitting around all summer. There wasn’t any pressure or stress or anything like that. Nobody could really expect much from me after sitting around for so long. It was good to get the first at-bat out of the way, not necessarily the first hit. I could really ask for a better situation. Nine-hole hitters don’t get to do that much very often.”

From the Office of the County Clerk: G122 - Astros @ Marlins

Now this is just getting silly. Astros lose - again - at Florida 6-3.

*The Astros had a 2-0 lead going into the 6th inning. They are now 32-8 when starting the 6th with the lead.

*Houston had not given up 6+ runs in back-to-back games against the same opponent since July 23-24 against Cincinnati (also, both losses). This is the 12th time this season it's happened, though.

*Wandy pitched well - allowing 7H/3R (2ER), 10K:1BB in 6IP, and he lowered his ERA to 4.00. It's just the lowest his ERA has been all season. After his second straight disaster start on June 18, Wandy's ERA was 6.09. Since that start, Wandy has posted 73.1IP, 57H/15ER, 75K:15BB.

*Wandy threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 27 batters he faced (including first-pitch swinging ABs). When throwing a first-pitch strike, the Marlins were 1x15, 8K.

*He really struggled in the 6th inning, though. Gaby Sanchez led off with a first-pitch single. With one out, Cody Ross and Wes Helms hit back-to-back triples (!), resulting in three runs. He had allowed just two triples all season long before tonight, and gave up two in two batters.

*Aside from the 3rd inning, which has been Wandy's most problematic inning (by ERA - 9.75), the 6th inning has been his 2nd-most troublesome, allowing a 6.35 ERA and an .833 OPS-against.

*Mark Melancon have up two walks and two hits, resulting in three runs - but only one was earned.

*So by now you've figured out that the defense was pretty brutal, accounting for the margin of the Marlins victory in unearned runs. This is the 10th game this season in which the Astros have allowed 3+ unearned runs. Seven of those games were from Opening Day-June 24.

*Call it growing pains for the rookie corner infield position. Brett Wallace committed his first error of the season, and Chris Johnson his 9th and 10th of the year.

*42 of the Astros' 158 pitches seen were non-contact strikes (21 called, 21 swinging).

*The Astros were 2x13 w/RISP tonight, with Angel Sanchez and Carlos Lee getting your hits, and Wallace/Bourn/Pence going 0x2 each, Castro and Johnson going 0x1. They're now hitting .250 w/RISP.

*Sanchez and Pence had two hits each, with Sanchez collecting an RBI and Carlos Lee getting 2RBI.

*Brett Wallace was hitting .333 after a 1x3 night against the Braves. Since then, he's gone 2x28 with 10K:0BB, and his average has dropped to .200. It's now been 12 starts since Wallace drew a walk (35 ABs)

*So the Astros fielded a lineup tonight in which - after the game - five of the eight position players were hitting under .250. Angel Sanchez (.286), Hunter Pence (.284), and Chris Johnson (.338) are the exceptions.

*Perhaps the best chance the Astros had to retake the lead came immediately following the first 3-run inning of the night. Yeah. There were two. Castro led off the inning with a walk, the 5th time he's done that in 27 plate appearances. Michaels grounded into a fielder's choice, and Manzella singled to left to give the Astros runners on 1st and 2nd with one out and the top of the order coming up. And Bourn and Sanchez didn't get the ball out of the infield.

*The Astros actually led off the inning with a walk three times (including Castro's 7th inning walk). None of them scored.

*Michael Bourn saw 23 pitches tonight, and made contact on six of them. Twelve were balls, four were swinging strikes, one was a called strike, five were fouls, and one was an in-play strike. 23 pitches, one put in play. It's the eighth game this season Bourn has drawn multiple walks.

*Pitch Count Hero: Michael Bourn (0x3, 2BB) - 23 pitches in five PAs.

*Pitch Count Punk: Hunter Pence (2x5) - 12 pitches in five PAs.

*Man of the Match: Wandy Rodriguez.

*Goat of the Game: Chris Johnson. Although we can overlook the defensive shortcomings if that average can stay around .340.