Saturday, April 21, 2012

PreStros Farm Report: April 20

PreStros: April 20

Oklahoma City (12-4) 

The RedHawks completed the series sweep in Nashville (MIL) as they beat the Sounds 2-1.

Henry Sosa threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 4 H and 1 BB. Enerio Del Rosario pitched 1 scoreless inning with 1 H and 1 K. Jose Valdez got the save with 1 IP, allowing 1 R on 1 H.

LF-JB Shuck was 2x4 with 1 R. 2B-Jimmy Paredes went 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 RBI

Man of the Match: Henry Sosa

Corpus Christi (6-8) 

The Hooks were involved in their third straight shutout, but this time Corpus came out on the winning end as they beat Frisco (TEX) 6-0.

Brett Oberholtzer dominated, going 7 innings and giving up just 3 H and 1 HBP with 8 K. Kevin Chapman finished out the final 2 innings with 3 H and 2 K.

LF-Austin Wates was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 SB. 1B-Jonathan Singleton was 1x4 with 1 solo HR. DH-Brandon Barnes went 2x4 with 2 solo HR. C-Chris Wallace was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 1 SB. SS/3B-Andy Simunic went 2x3 with 1 RBI, 1 R, and 1 SB.

Man of the Match: Brett Oberholtzer

Lancaster (5-10) 

Fans in Lake Elsinore (SD) witnessed a rare California League pitcher’s duel as the JetHawks fell 2-1.

Wes Musick pitched a complete game in the loss, going 8 innings and giving up 2 R on 6 H, 1 BB, and 1 HBP with 6 K.

Lancaster managed just three hits in the game. DH-Erik Castro was 1x4 with 1 R. 2B-Kike Hernandez was 1x3. C-Rene Garcia went 1x3.

Man of the Match: Wes Musick

Lexington (6-10) 

The Legends battled through a back and forth game against Kannapolis (CHW) and came away with the victory 6-4.

Kyle Hallock was knocked around a bit, but held out long enough to get the win with 5 IP, giving up 4 R on 11 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Carlos Quevedo quieted the Intimidators’ bats with 3 IP allowing just 1 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Jason Chowning maintained his 0.00 season ERA with 1 IP with 1 HBP.

2B-Delino DeShields was 3x5 with 1 R and 2 SB. 1B-Zach Johnson went 2x3 with 1 BB and 2 RBI. 3B-Matt Duffy was 2x5 with 1 R. SS-Alex Todd went 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Carlos Quevedo

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted. Opening Day June 2nd.

Know Your Enemy: April 21

And so the Astros come into tonight's game 5-9, having lost eight of their last ten games with a run differential of -6 in those ten games.

*They face 6'3" 220lb LHP Clayton Kershaw.
*He was drafted out of Highland Park High School in Dallas with the 7th overall pick in the 2006 draft and debuted with the Dodgers at 20 years old - then the youngest pitcher in MLB.
*In his senior season at Highland Park, Kershaw pitched an all-strikeout perfect game in the playoffs against Justin Northwest HS.
*Kershaw has mentioned that he modeled his mechanics on Roger Clemens.
*Kershaw won the Pitching Triple Crown and the NL Cy Young in 2011, becoming the youngest pitcher to accomplish either one of these achievements since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
*His 6.71 hits/9 were the best in the NL in 2011.
*According to FanGraphs, his Fastball velocity has been sitting at 92.5mph, with an 84.5mph slider, 82.9mph changeup, and a 73.2mph curve.
*Kershaw faced the Astros twice in 2011 (May 23 and August 13), and threw a total of 14IP, 10H/2ER, 16K:3BB.
*He left his Opening Day start after 3IP with the flu, but still managed to get 25 strikes on 39 pitches, with 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB at San Diego.
*Kershaw was sharp in his second start of the season, throwing 7IP, 4H/1ER, 7K:0BB against the Pirates; but got roughed up a bit by the Padres on Monday with 5.1IP, 8H/3ER, 3K:3BB.
*RHBs are hitting .216/.273/.314 off of Kershaw this season, and he has only allowed one hit in 18PAs w/RISP, for an .067/.176/.067 line.
*So far this young season, the Astros are hitting .209/.308/.341 vs. Lefty starters.
*Current Astros, collectively, have 46PAs vs. Kershaw. Carlos Lee is 4x13 with a homer and 2BB off Kershaw, and Chris Snyder is 3x7 with a HR and 2BB. Justin Maxwell is 0x5 with 4Ks, so don't expect to see him in the lineup.

*Kyle Weiland takes the mound for the third times this season. He's 0-2 with 10.2IP, 18H/10ER, 7K:6BB, 3HR allowed. In his last seven games started (dating back to July 2011), he's 0-5 with an 8.63 ERA.
*Weiland got 17 swinging strikes in his opening outing of the season against the Braves, but only four swinging strikes at Washington on Tuesday.
*There's not a pretty stat to show about Weiland's 2012, but if the batter gets ahead in the count, they go on to a 1.545 OPS (10x21, 4XBH, 2K:6BB).
*He has never faced anyone on the Dodgers.

Postolos feels your pain

Anyone who happens to be more than a little irritated that you can't watch all of the Astros games has a friend in George Postolos.

If you're looking at it from a fan perspective, [not televising] games is difficult to understand. We certainly want to do everything we can to encourage our broadcast partner for the season to program their network to appease Astros fans."

Next year, we'll be able to see EVERYTHING on Comcast SportsNet Houston, including a pre-game show where there's a hidden camera in Brad Mills' personal bathroom*.


From the Office of the County Clerk - G14: Dodgers (10-3) @ Astros (5-8)

Ted Lilly (1-0, 0.00) v.s. JA Happ (1-0, 3.75)

The Dodgers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st inning tonight on a Matt Kemp 2-run homerun, and it turned out to be all they needed as they beat the Astros 3-1. After an offensive explosion last night, the Astros offense came crashing back to earth tonight with only 1 run on 5 hits. The Dodgers improve to 11-3 while the Astros continue their freefall and are now sitting at 5-9.

*JA Happ had a pretty solid night, but was the victim of poor run support. His line of 6.0 IP / 8 H / 3 ER / 4 BB / 3 SO would win him a lot of games, but not with the Astros unpredictable offense. Happ took the loss and sits at 1-1 on the year.


*The Astros wore the complete Colt 45's outfits for the second and final time this season. They went 0-2 as the Colt 45's this year. 

*Fans at tonights game received Colt 45 replica jerseys....without the Colt 45 on it. How they can call that a replica jersey, I can't understand. They might as well give away Yankee jerseys.

*After a big lack of walks lately, the Astros drew a total of 7 bases on balls tonight - in fact they had two more walks (7) than they had hits (5).

*Putting a damper on the nice amount of walks the Astros drew was the large number of strikeouts they were the victims of tonight - 11 in total. 

*After staring the year 3-1, the Astros have since gone 2-8. 

*Jordan Schafer got the night off again, but did pinch hit in the 7th inning and ended up 1 for 2 on the night. He is now hitting .280/.390/.340 on the year. That OBP is very nice, especially for our leadoff hitter. 

*Maxwell has been sneaking in some playing time lately - i'm wondering if Luhnow has been less than impressed with him so far and wants to see what he really has in him here to see if its worth keeping him around. He went 0 for 3 tonight and is now .200/.250/.400 on the year.

*After having a ton of .300+ hitters through the first few games of the season, the only players above that plateau now are Altuve (.347) and Martinez (.333).

*How fun are both of those players to watch? I hope they both stay around a long time and are part of this rebuild even when we starting being competitive again.

*Imagine if we still had Hunter Pence to go along with Schafer and JD Martinez in the outfield? That would be one young, incredibly talented outfield. I watched Hunter hit a huge homerun the other night and missed him instantly. Loved his passion and the way he plays the game.

Turning Point:

The Kemp homerun in the 1st inning put the Dodgers up 2-0, and it was all they needed as the Astros offense could not get much going all night.

Man of the Match:

I'll give it to Bogey tonight, to make up for all of the times i've been hard on him. 1 for 2 with a walk, and he scored our only run of the night.

Goat of the Game:

Could pick just about anyone who swung a bat tonight. Chris Johnson went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts and left 3 men on base. That's a pretty bad night. Jed Lowrie went 0 for 4 on the night and left 4 men on base. I'll give the edge to CJ, but just by a hair.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Greg Eisinger must love him some J.D. Martinez

Greg Eisinger, the guy who caught J.D. Martinez's home run ball - the first homer in the new Marlins Park - wants season tickets in exchange for giving up the Martinez ball.

Marlins Senior Vice President of Communications & Broadcasting P.J. Loyello said:
"We don't want it. He wanted season tickets for it. We said no."

Eisinger is a law student at Nova Southeastern University, J.D. Martinez's alma mater.

Know Your Enemy: April 20

Having missed yesterday's Know Your Enemy post, and the resulting barrage of triples that followed, it was tempting to skip today's Know Your Enemy, to see if there was a correlation betwixt the two events. Yet, it is our duty.

The Astros welcome the Dodgers to town, fresh off dropping two of three at Milwaukee, breaking what had been a six-game win streak. While LA is undefeated at home, they find themselves 4-3 on the road, 10-3 overall. The Astros snapped their four-game losing streak in high-octane fashion last night against the Nationals, and return home after a seven-game road trip in which they went 2-5.

On the mound for the Dodgers is 6'0" 190lb LHP Father Ted Lilly (so named because of his collar).

*Lilly was a 23rd Round draft pick in the 1996 draft by the Dodgers, but was traded to the Expos at the 1998 trade deadline. He was the PTBNL in the trade between the Expos and Yankees that sent Jake Westbrook to the Yankees for Hideki Irabu. He was traded once again in a three-team trade in 2002 with the Yankees, A's, and Tigers that sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees, Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers, and Ted Lilly and cash to the A's. He was traded in November 2003 to the Blue Jays for Bobby Kielty, and was traded again at the 2010 trade deadline to the Dodgers with Ryan Theriot for Blake DeWitt, Brett Wallach, and Kyle Smit.
*Ted Lilly gave up 60HR in 2010-11, with a career HR/9 rate of 1.3.
*In 15 career starts against the Astros, Lilly is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA/1.07 WHIP, the second-lowest ERA of any team he has faced in his career.
*In 48 career games (45 starts) in March/April, Lilly is 16-18 with a 3.92 ERA/1.21 WHIP.
*Lilly will be making his 2nd start of the season tonight. In his first start, against San Diego on Sunday, Lilly threw 7IP, 2H/1R (0ER), $K:1BB, with 53 of his 79 pitches going for strikes. His 74 Game Score was the 11th 70+ Game Score for the Dodgers.
*Lilly has faced current Astros for 98PAs (Carlos Lee has 54PAs) for an overall .322/.392/.552 line. Chris Snyder has two career homers off of Lilly, while Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson, and Justin Maxwell have each tagged Lilly for a homer.

*Meanwhile, the Astros send J.A. Happ against the Dodgers. Happ is 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA/1.17 WHIP in two starts this season.
*Happ hasn't allowed the 1st batter in the lineup to reach base yet.
*Opponents are 4x13 with no extra-base hits off Happ w/RISP.
*It'll be interesting to see if Castro gets the start tonight, as Happ has a .239/.286/.391 line with Castro behind the plate so far this season. With Quintero in 2011, Happ had a .254/.347/.437 slash line-against.
*Happ has only faced the Dodgers twice in his career - once in 2011 (5IP, 3H/5R (1ER), 4K:2BB), and once in 2010 (5IP, 7H/1ER, 4K:1BB).
*That said, current Dodgers (pitchers included) have a career 1.198 OPS against Happ (43PAs), though nobody has more than 10PAs against him. Matt Kemp is 2x5 with 2BB, and Jerry Hairston/Juan Uribe have each taken him deep.

PreStros Farm Report: April 19

PreStros: April 19

Oklahoma City (11-4) 

The RedHawks swept last nights double-header in Nashville (MIL), taking the first game 4-3 and the second 4-2. As is often the case in minor league double-headers, each game lasted just seven innings.

Game 1:

Jordan Lyles threw 5.2 innings and gave up 3 R on 8 H and 1 BB with 6 K to get the win. Xavier Cedeno finished out the last 1.1 innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Lyles is 3-0 on the season with a 2.89 ERA.

2B-Brian Bixler continued tearing up AAA pitching as he went 3x4 with 1 2B and 2 R. RF-Brad Snyder was 2x3 with 1 2B and 1 R. 3B-Scott Moore was 1x3 with 1 BB and 2 RBI. Bixler is now hitting .520 through 6 games with 2 HR and 5 SB.

Man of the Match: Brian Bixler

Game 2:

Sergio Perez left with a groin injury after throwing 2 innings and allowing 1 R on 5 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Mickey Storey picked up the next 3 innings and gave up 1 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Fernando Abad finished the game with 2 shutout innings allowing just 1 H with 4 K for the win. Abad hasn’t allowed a run in four outings since being demoted.

2B-Jimmy Paredes was 2x3 with 1 HR, 1 R, and 3 RBI. 3B-Scott Moore was 1x2 with 1 BB, 1 3B and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Jimmy Paredes

Corpus Christi (5-8) 

The off day didn’t help Corpus regroup as they were shutout by Frisco (TEX) 10-0. The Hooks have now lost five straight, including being shutout the last two games.

Jose Cisnero went 4.2 innings and gave up 4 R on 4 H and 3 BB with 1 WP and 6 K. Erick Abreu allowed 4 R (1 earned) in 1.1 innings on 4 H. Jonnathan Aristil went 2 innings and gave up 4 H and 2 R with 1 WP and 3 K. Adalberto Flores pitched a scoreless ninth with 1 H and 2 K.

1B-Jonathan Singleton was 1x2 with 2 BB. CF-Brandon Barnes was 1x4 with 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Singleton

Lancaster (5-9) 

The Lancaster offense took a night off as the JetHawks fell 8-1 to Lake Elsinore (SD).

Bobby Doran went 6 innings and gave up 4 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 3 BB with 4 K. Pat Urckfitz threw 1 inning and allowed 1 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Andrew Robinson was roughed up in his 1 inning as he gave up 3 R on 1 H, 2 BB, and 1 HBP.

SS-Jio Mier was 1x3 with 1 BB and 2 SB. RF-Domingo Santana was 1x4 with 1 3B and 1 R. C-Ben Heath was 0x3 and allowed 4 SB. Runners are now 11 of 12 in stolen base attempts against Heath in 4 games.

Man of the Match: Jio Mier

Lexington (5-10) 

The Legends pitching staff was able to hold off Kannapolis (CHW) long enough for Lexington to score two runs in the ninth to beat the Intimidators 2-0.

Nick Tropeano was dominant with 8 IP, allowing just 4 H and 2 BB with 9 K. Jason Chowning struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth. Tropeano has allowed just one run this season in 19 innings to go along with 27 strikeouts and just five walks. Chowning hasn’t allowed an earned run in five outings with 10 strikeouts and two saves.

SS-Alex Todd was 3x4 with 1 R. C-Roberto Pena was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Nick Tropeano

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G13: Astros (4-8) @ Nationals (10-3)

Bud Norris (0-0, 4.15) v.s. Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.57)

What the heck happened?! The Astros offense exploded tonight, scoring 11 runs on 17 hits enroute to a huge 11-4 win over the Nationals. The Astros were due for a win and did it in a big way. The Astros improve to 5-8 and the Nationals fall to 10-4.

*Bud Norris was not spectacular but was good enough tonight thanks to the amount of run support his offense gave him. His line: 6.0 IP / 10 H / 4 ER / 2 BB / 6 K. He picked up the win.

*Lopez, Carpenter and Myers each pitched an inning in relief. They combined for 3.0 IP / 1 H / 0 BB / 2 K in a good showing by the bullpen, although the game was out of reach by the time they were utilized.

*Jed Lowrie got the night off and Marwin Gonzalez started in his place. Altuve was moved up to his original #2 spot in the order and responded with a 2 for 5 night including 2 RBI's (which could have been 4 as he narrowly missed a grand slam, hitting one off the wall in deep left-center). He is now batting .348/.380/.522 and is a lot of fun to watch. I love him in that #2 spot and wish Mills would just leave him there. Gonzalez also picked up a hit on a 1 for 5 night tonight.

*Chris Johnson also got the night off, with Matt Downs getting the start in his place. Downs went 2 for 5 with an RBI and 2 runs, including a triple in the first inning.

*The Astros set a franchise record with 3 triples in the first inning tonight. The sequence: Schafer struck out, Altuve tripled, JD Martinez singled (1-0), Carlos Lee singled, Bogusevic tripled (3-0), Downs tripled (4-0), Castro singled (5-0), Gonzalez flied out, Norris popped out. The Astros batted around and handed Bud Norris a 5-0 lead on a silver platter before he even stepped on the mound.

*The Astros batted around again in the 6th, tacking on another 5 runs and effectively putting the game out of reach.

*For the second straight game the Astros did not draw a single walk. A bit concerning for sure, especially for a team that was relying on its patience in the first few games of the season.

*Every Astros starter got a hit tonight, even Bud Norris.

*Bud Norris looked like he was going to get tossed from the game in the bottom of the 6th. Leading off, Bernadina hit a groundball to the right side. Carlos Lee fielded it and tossed it to Norris who clearly touched the bag first. First base umpire David Rackley looked as though he was going to signal out but then changed his mind and made the safe call. I've attached a couple of pictures below in case you didn't see the game so you can see that it was clearly a bad call. We've been pretty lucky with calls so far this year, and this was a tough one - but clearly blown. Norris was really tearing into Rackley and I was shocked he didn't get tossed - but luckily he got a long leash and Mills got out there in time to take over the complaint.

Turning Point:
The first inning. 9 batters, 6 hits, 5 runs. The Astros took their 5-0 lead and never looked back. The Nationals did make it interesting, and closed the gap to 5-4 by the bottom of the 3rd thanks in part to a Ryan Zimmerman 3 run homerun. But Norris was able to bear down and the 'Stros ran away with another 5 runs in the 6th and 1 more for good measure in the 7th.

Man of the Match:
Very tough choice. Every starter had at least one hit. Altuve, Martinez, Bogey, Castro & Norris each had 2 RBI's (Downs also had one). Every starter scored at least 1 run. In the end, i'm going to go with Matt Downs. 2 for 5, 3 runs and a RBI in his first start of the year (and after only accumulating 6 AB's up until now in pinch hit roles). There is no wrong answer here - the offense was explosive.

Goat of the Game:
I decline to call anyone a Goat here. I can name two Nationals pitchers who could be here....but no Astros. Great all around team effort tonight.

PreStros Farm Report: April 18

PreStros: April 18

Oklahoma City (9-4) 

Dallas Keuchel had another good outing as the RedHawks beat Nashville (MIL) 7-5.

Keuchel went 7 innings and allowed 2 R on 5 H and 3 BB with 3 K and 1 PO. Juan Abreu had another multi-run outing as he gave up 2 R in 1 IP on 1 H and 1 BB. Jose Valdez got his third save as he allowed 1 R (unearned) on 1 H in 1 IP.

The OKC offense was homer happy in support. SS-Brian Bixler went 2x5 with 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, and 1 SB. 3B-Scott Moore was 2x3 with 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 R, and 2 RBI. RF-Justin Ruggiano was 3x4 with 1 HR, 1 BB, and 1 SB. LF-Fernando Martinez went 2x4 with 1 BB, 2 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Dallas Keuchel

Corpus Christi (5-7) 


Off Day Spotlight:

Andrew Simunic
Born:                August 7, 1985
Bats/Throws:   R/R
Height/Weight: 6’0”/170lbs
Acquired:     Drafted by Houston Astros , 2008 (17th round)
Position:          UT

Simunic hit .263/.354/.368 last season between Lancaster, Corpus, and a three game stint in OKC. For his career he’s hitting .271/.366/.344. He has a very high percentage of successful steal attempts, but hasn’t run much since being promoted from Lexington in 2010. Andrew has the ability to hit a few doubles, but has little power. He shows good patience at the plate. He's played a little outfield; he's actually appeared at every position except catcher, but is best at second base where he’s spent the most time. In 2012 he’s hitting .200/.333/.200 through 18 plate appearances with two walks and 1 strikeout while playing third base exclusively.

Lancaster (5-8) 

Timely big hits helped propel the JetHawks to a come from behind 8-6 victory over High Desert (SEA) to take the series after being swept by the Mavericks in the opening series.

Zach Grimmett turned in an adequate performance, going 6 innings while allowing 4 R on 9 H, including 2 HR, and 1 HBP with 6 K. Jose Trinidad pitched a scoreless 7th to get the win. Jorge De Leon “earned” the save with 2 IP giving up 2 R on 4 H and 2 BB with 2 K and 1 WP.

SS-Jio Mier continued to heat up offensively as he went 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 3 RBI. 1B-Telvin Nash was 1x4 with his minor league leading 7th HR. DH-Ben Heath went 2x3 with 1 BB and 2 R. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R. RF-Domingo Santana went 2x4 with 1 R and 2 RBI. 2B-Kike Hernandez was 1x4 with 2 R.

Man of the Match: Jio Mier

Lexington (4-10) 

The Legends pushed across two runs in the ninth to avoid being shutout as the lost to Greenville (BOS) 4-2.

Jonas Dufek was knocked out of the game when he took a liner off his arm. Before leaving, he had thrown 1.2 innings allowing 2 BB with 2 K. Nathan Pettus stepped in and pitched around some wildness until the 6th, when he loaded the bases with no one out. He ended up with 3.1 IP and was charged with 3 R on 1 H with 4 BB, 2 HBP, and 1 K. Dayan Diaz came in for Pettus and allowed all three inherited runners to score before settling down for 3 IP with 4 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Scott Zuloaga pitched the ninth and allowed 1 solo HR and 1 BB.

3B-Matt Duffy provided most of the offense as he went 3x4 with a 2 R HR with two out in the bottom of the ninth to prevent the shutout.

Man of the Match: Matt Duffy

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

Buck strains hamstring

Travis Buck strained his hamstring in the 4th inning last night, being replaced by Justin Maxwell, but says it's not as bad as when he did it last year and missed six games.

By clicking the link you'll find out that Jordan Schafer is still dealing with a cold, but can still "go out and play."

From the Office of the County Clerk - G12: Astros @ Nationals

Good God this is infuriating. The Astros lose 3-2 at Washington for their fourth straight loss, and seventh in their last eight games, and are 1-5 on this seven-game road trip. Six of their 12 games have been one-run affairs, and the Astros are 2-4 in one-run games.

*Houston took the lead in the top of the 4th when Jordan Schafer reached on a bunt single - the Astros' first hit of the game - stole second, advanced to 3rd on Lowrie's groundout to the right side, and scored on Buck's groundout.

*And that was all the scoring until the 7th, when Rick Ankiel doubled and advanced to 3rd on Harrell's balk. Roger Bernadina doubled Ankiel in to tie the game, and Harrell was done i favor of Fernando Rodriguez. Rodriguez walked Steve Lombardozzi (which would be a pattern), before getting Ian Desmond to foul out to end the 7th.

*In the top of the 8th, Jason Castro doubled to lead-off the inning and Marwin Gonzalez popped out trying to bunt, and Jose Altuve lined out sharply to 3rd. Enter Jordan Schafer, who singled to right to score Castro for the go-ahead run.

*Fernando Rodriguez came back out for the bottom of the 8th, walked Danny Espinosa and gave up a single to Ryan Zimmerman. Wesley Wright took over to face Adam LaRoche, walked him, and in came Rhiner Cruz with the bases loaded. Cruz walked Jayson Werth to score a run, got Rick Ankiel to ground out to get Zimmerman at home, and then Wilson Ramos hit a sac fly to score LaRoche and provide the final margin of victory.

*Harrell bounced back from his previous rough outing to throw 6.2IP, 4H/1ER, 4K:3BB. He has walked seven batters in his last 10.2IP, after not walking anyone in his first start in G2 against the Rockies.

*The bullpen of F-Rod, Wright, and Cruz walked four of the nine batters they faced. The Astros walked 13 batters in the six home games to start the season, and 23 batters in the six road games since, including 18 in the last four games.

*The offense was 1x7 w/RISP and 4x27 in the three games at Washington.

*1-2-3 in the lineup (Schafer, Lowrie, Buck, Maxwell) were a combined 3x12, while 4-5-6 (Lee, Bogusevic, Johnson) went 1x10, and 7-8 (Castro, Gonzalez) went 2x6.

*Jordan Schafer is 3rd in MLB, tied with Michael Bourn, with six steals.

*Brian Bogusevic, after going 0x3, is 4x33 on the season with one extra-base hit, and is 2x22 with 3K:4BB in his last seven games (28PAs).

*After his hot start, where Carlos Lee was hitting .364/.462/.545 in the first six games, he has gone 4x27 with one extra-base hit to drop his season line to .245/.315/.347.

*Since Opening Day, when they went back-to-back jack, Lee and Bogusevic (typically 4-5 in the lineup) have hit no homers in 86 PAs.

*Man of the Match: This one's going to Jordan Schafer.

*Goat of the Game: The Bullpen, for allowing too many walks.

*Tipping Point: Fernando Rodriguez didn't do anybody any favors, but had the go-ahead run on on base for Wesley Wright, who was brought in specifically to face lefty Adam LaRoche. Wright started him off with two strikes, a foul, and then four straight balls to walk the bases loaded with nobody out. LaRoche would score the game-winning run. Wesley Wright now has walked three batters in 3.1IP, and has a 2.10 WHIP.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Know Your Enemy: April 18

The Nationals bring their two game win streak (and seven of eight) against Lucas Harrell and the Astros tonight.

On the mound is: 6'2" 220lb RHP Jordan Zimmermann.

*2nd Round pick by the Nationals in 2007.
*He's a Super-Two player, making $2.3m in 2012.
*Zimmermann is only the 2nd player from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to make it to the Majors, and the first since Scott May pitched 9.1IP from 1988 to 1991, with a 10.61 ERA.
*According to Baseball America, Zimmermann was the Nats' best prospect going into the 2009 season.
*And then he needed Tommy John surgery in August 2009. In his second start back from TJ surgery, he became the first National to face 18 batters in 6IP.
*In the 2nd inning against the Marlins on May 6, 2011 Zimmermann struck out three batters on nine pitches.
*In 14IP so far this season, Zimmermann has allowed 9H/2ER, 7K:2BB for a 1.29 ERA/0.79 WHIP.
*39 of his 128 strikes (in 180 pitches) have been looking, while he's generated 14 swinging strikes, 24 grounders, 21 flyballs, and 13 line-drives.
*He's pitched twice against the Astros in his career, with a 7.15 ERA/1.32 WHIP. He last faced them on July 19, 2011, when he allowed 7H/6ER, 5K:0BB in a 7-6 loss.
*Zimmermann only has 12 PAs against current Astros, with Carlos Lee (3x6) and Chris Johnson (1x2) getting the hits.
*He has thrown his fastball 62.2% of the time this season, with a slider coming in second at 21.1%, and a curve 15% of the time.

*Lucas Harrell has never started against the Nationals, but in 5PAs has walked Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman. He faced them in relief on September 9, 2011, throwing 1.1IP, with an unearned run and three walks.

Astros will be giving away a Colt .45s jersey without the Colt .45

The Astros will be giving away these jerseys this Friday, April 20 at the Astros/Dodgers game. Notice anything? No Colt .45.

The Astros' twitter feed was kind enough to respond to a snarky tweet explaining what happened:
This was ordered in December when we didn't have permission to use the revolver...complete jersey in September.

Although, it must be said: To give away a jersey with just a wisp of smoke on 4/20 is ballsy indeed. Especially in Houston.

Luhnow open to long-term deals with prospects

In the wake of the Madison Bumgarner deal (and referencing the Matt Moore/Evan Longoria deals), Jeff Luhnow is open to giving long-term deals to prospects, a la the Tampa Bay Rays. But there's a caveat:

“It makes sense to lock up young talent and have some cost control, but at the same time, when your entire team is young or a lot of your team is young, it’s difficult to figure out which are the right guys to do that with."

Yeah, so who in the Astros system would you feel comfortable doing that with?

PreStros Farm Report: April 17

PreStros: April 17

Oklahoma City (8-4) 

Game Postponed

Corpus Christi (5-7) 

Tulsa (COL) starter Edwar Cabrera had a perfect game through 8 innings against Corpus until a Chris Wallace single to lead off the ninth broke it up. That single was the only base runner Corpus got for the game as they lost 4-0.

Ross Seaton pitched well with 7 innings allowing 4 R on 6 H and 2 BB with 4 K. Unfortunately two of those six hits were home runs. Arcenio Leon pitched the final inning with 2 BB and 1 K.

C-Chris Wallace went 1x3 and was the only Corpus base runner all night.

Man of the Match: Chris Wallace

Lancaster (4-8) 

The JetHawks combined solid pitching with a strong offensive effort, including a 9-run second inning, to beat High Desert (SEA) 11-3.

Ruben Alaniz gave 6 innings and allowed 3 R on 8 H with 0 BB and 7 K. Gabriel Garcia turned in 2 IP with 3 H. Kirk Clark pitched a perfect 9th.

LF-Adam Bailey was 3x5 with 2 R and 1 HR. 3B-Jonathan Meyer went 2x4 with 2 R and 2 RBI. RF-Domingo Santana was 1x3 with 1 BB, 2 R, and 2 RBI on 1 HR. 2B-Enrique Hernandez went 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Domingo Santana

Lexington (4-9) 

After falling behind 6-0 after the 2nd inning, the Legends battled back to make it a 1 run game before ultimately falling to Greenville (BOS) 10-6.

Tanner Bushue had another rough outing, going just 2 innings while allowing 6 R (4 ER) on 5 H and 1 BB with 2 K. He also had 2 errors. Luis Cruz went 4 innings giving up 1 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Murilo Gouvea threw 2.1 innings and gave up 3 R on 3 H, 1 BB, and 2 HBP with 3 K.

Bushue is now 0-3 on the season with a 20.86 ERA and opponents are hitting .524 against him. I can’t help but wonder if there’s something wrong with him after his first three starts.

2B-Delino DeShields was 2x5 with 1 R, 2 SB, and 1 error. 1B-Zachary Johnson was 1x3 with 1 HR and 1 error. DH-Mike Kvasnicka was 0x4 with 4 K. Kvasnicka is hitting just .083/.175/.139 on the season with 15 K in 36 AB.

Man of the Match: Zach Johnson

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

So Mark Melancon has been sort of a train wreck, huh?

The working title for this post was, "All Hail the All-Seeing Luhnow," but that seemed a bit much. Still, Mark Melancon has been pretty awful for the Red Sox after his off-season trade. It's too early to compare numbers to 2011, but let's look at some key Melancon stats from 2012:

*17 batters faced, six outs
*8 flyballs to 3 groundballs
*5 Homers allowed (after allowing five in all of 2011, 74.1IP).

Bobby Valentine mentioned that Melancon might see what Pawtucket had to offer in the short-term future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G11: Astros (4-6) @ Nationals (8-3)

Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, 2.38) v.s. Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 3.38)

Wandy Rodriguez pitched a gem but didn't get a bit of run support as the Astros lost to the Nationals by a 1-0 score tonight. The only difference was a misplayed ball in the bottom of the 4th. With 2 out, Jayson Werth doubled. Wandy then looked to have got out of the inning when he got Adam Laroche to pop up to shallow left field. Jed Lowrie and JD Martinez had a miscommunication, however, and the ball fell between them allowing Werth to score. That was the only run that Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals bullpen would need tonight as they hung on to the 1-0 win. The Astros drop to 4-7 while the red hot Nationals improve to 9-3.

*Wandy Rodriguez was great tonight and deserved the win. His line: 7.0 IP / 5 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 3 K. He took the tough luck loss to drop to 0-2 on the year.


*Jordan Schafer got the night off and Justin Maxwell started in his place. Maxwell went 1 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts. He is an exciting player, as he has some power and speed, but you can see how he hasn't stuck around with any other major league clubs so far. He just isn't patient enough to be a successful big league hitter. Hopefully the coaches can work with him to help develop his patience, as I think his ceiling is very high.

*Schafer did get an at bat when he pinch hit for Chris Snyder tonight. He delivered a single on the first pitch he saw. His OBP for the year is a solid .396 now.

*Coming into tonight the Astros were 5-2 when Jefferson won the President mascot race at Nationals Park. That record will now drop to 5-3 however.

*It was an easy night on our bullpen tonight - and even on Wandy. He only threw 87 pitches in a very efficient outing, while Rhiner Cruz was the only member of the bullpen who saw action. He threw 17 pitches in a scoreless inning of work, striking out one.

*The Astros got 3 more walks tonight and are still doing a much better job of getting on base than they did last year, despite their recent struggles.

*Travis Buck earned another start with his good night at the plate last night, but couldn't deliver tonight - going 0 for 4 with 2 K's.

*Jose Altuve continues to hit the ball hard. With a 1 for 3 night tonight he is now batting .350/.386/.475 on the year. Not going to hit for much power, but he is finding gaps and getting on base like crazy.

Turning Point:

The misplayed ball by Lowrie and JD Martinez that allowed the only run of the game to score with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th. Lowrie looked like he had it but let up at the last second thinking JD was going to take it. It fell between them and cost them a run - the only one the Nationals would need.

Man of the Match:

Wandy Rodriguez pitched a gem and deserved to win. It was great to see him pitch so effectively against a surprisingly potent Nationals offense. Not walking a batter was a big plus as well.

Goat of the Game:

The entire offense. They went 4 for 29 (.138) and left 13 men on base. They walked 3 times as opposed to 9 strikeouts. Maxwell, Lowrie and Altuve were the only starters to collect hits (Lowrie's was a double) while Schafer pitched in with a single off the bench.

Another PreStro gone

Oklahoma City Outfielder Collin DeLome has tweeted that he is not a member of the Astros organization any more. We'll try to dig for details.

*Edit: Looks like Collin was released.

Did the Astros know what Strasburg was throwing?

And still only scrape across two runs? Stephen Strasburg thinks so.

"Just the way they were kind of checking on some pitches and stuff. Typically, kind of the hitter does something a little different on some pitches, and when they know it's coming, they obviously look very comfortable in there. That's something I'm going to have to look at on the film, and if I am doing it, I know how to fix it."

There's a video of Strasburg discussing exactly this, so head over to MASN and watch it for yourselves.

The Astros dodged a bullet with this Livan Hernandez fella

Now he's the Barves' problem (not a typo). Because not only is Hernandez losing a decent chunk of change, he's kinda sorta been tied to a Puerto Rican drug lord.

So: Livan owes SunTrust $469,387.22. He also had a Lamborghini Murceliago repossessed that was registered to him, but actually owned by Angel Ayala Vazquez who, last April, was convicted on drug charges relating to his conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin, and pills in public housing projects in San Juan, and sentenced to life in prison.

The linked Washington Times article even says that:
Hernandez, 36, is the target of a Federal money-laundering investigation in connection with the case, where he’s suspected of being a straw-buyer for Ayala Vazquez.

Know Your Enemy: April 17

In Game 2 of the Nationals series, the Astros will face...

*6'0" 200lb, 26-year old LHP Gio Gonzalez.
*Gonzalez played for Hialeah (FL) High School, winning two state championships in his first three seasons.
*Gonzalez was the 38th overall pick by the White Sox in 2004, and was the PTBNL in the 2005 trade between Chicago and Philadelphia that send Jim Thome to the White Sox for Aaron Rowand.
*He was traded by Ed Wade back to the White Sox almost exactly one year later, with Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia. Which is typical, because Gonzalez led the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2007.
*As the White Sox' #1 prospect heading into 2008, Gonzalez was traded once again in January 2008 to Oakland with Ryan Seeney and Fautino De Los Santos for Nick Swisher.
*And of course Gonzalez was traded by Oakland to Washington this past off-season for four prospects, and signed a 5-year extension for $42m through 2016, with club options for 2017 and 2018.
*In two starts for the Nationals, Gonzalez has thrown 10.2IP, 9H4ER, with 13K:3BB. However, in his last start, on April 12, Gonzalez went 7IP, 2H/0ER, 7K:0BB, with 33 of his 64 strikes coming as non-contact strikes.
*Of current Astros, Gonzalez has only faced Jed Lowrie (3x8, HR, 2K:1BB) and Matt Downs(1x5) in his career.

*Wandy Rodriguez takes the hill to complete the battle of left-handed dominance. He's 0-1 in two starts, with 11.1IP, 12H/3ER, 7K:3BB. Still, five of the 54 batters Wandy has faced in 2012 have reached by error.
*Over the past three seasons, Wandy is 2-0 against Washington with 17.1IP, 18H/7ER, 21K:5BB.
*Among Nationals with 10+ PA, Mark DeRosa has a 1.120 OPS (9x28, 2HR, 4K:5BB) against Wandy, and Ryan Zimmerman has a 1.086 OPS. Rick Ankiel is 0x11, while Jayson Werth is 3x10 with 3Ks.

Trio of PreStros honored

Three of our minor leaguers received player of the week honors from their respective leagues for the week ending April 15th.

Dallas Keuchel was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week. For the week, Keuchel was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 0.46 WHIP. He threw 13 innings and allowed just six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.

Keuchel currently has the most innings pitched without allowing a run in the PCL and the lowest WHIP among starters.

Brandon Barnes and Jake Goebbert shared the title of offensive player of the week for the Texas League. Barnes hit .432 for the week with one homerun, nine RBIs, 10 runs and two steals. Goebbert hit .429 with a .500 OBP, two homeruns, 10 RBIs, and 10 runs.

Barnes is currently leading the Texas League with 17 hits, nine doubles, and a .415 batting average.

PreStros Farm Report: April 16

PreStros: April 16

Oklahoma City (8-4) 

The RedHawks were shutout in Memphis (STL) as they fell 2-0.

Aneury Rodriguez went 5 innings and allowed 1 R on 5 H and 3 BB with 5 K. Rodriguez is now tied for the PCL lead in strikeouts with 21, though he’s reached that total in 6.1 fewer innings than the other guy.

2B-Jimmy Paredes was 2x3. LF-Fernando Martinez went 1x4 with 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Aneury Rodriguez

Dallas Keuchel was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week.

Corpus Christi (5-5) 

Corpus dropped their third straight, falling to Tulsa (COL) 7-1.

Henry Villar, having been pressed into relief services just three days prior, left after 3 innings in which he allowed 3 R on 3 H and 1 BB with 1 K and 1 HBP. Erick Abreu went 3 innings, allowing 3 R on 5 H with 2 K. Adalberto Flores pitched a scoreless inning with 2 K in his first outing for Corpus since being sent down from OKC. Jason Stoffel gave up his first run of the year in 1 IP.

SS-Jonathan Villar was 1x5 with 1 2B. CF-Brandon Barnes was 1x4 with 1 2B. 2B-Jose Martinez was 1x4 with a solo HR. C-Jair Fernandez was 0x1 with 3 BB, and had 1 PO and 1 CS behind the plate.

Man of the Match: Jose Martinez.

Brandon Barnes and Jake Goebbert were named co-offensive players of the week for the Texas league.

Lancaster (3-8) 

The High Desert Mavericks (SEA) unloaded in a 4 run 13th inning to beat the JetHawks 7-3.

David Martinez turned in a quality start, lasting 6 innings and giving up 3 R on 7 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Alex Sogard went 3 scoreless innings with 2 H and 5 K. Pat Urckitz held down the next 3 innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Brian Streilein got hung with the loss after allowing 4 R on 2 H and 2 BB while getting just 1 out in the 13th.

LF-Telvin Nash was 2x5 with 1 BB and 1 R. DH-Erik Castro went 2x6 with 1 HR, 1 R, and 2 RBI. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 3x5 with 1 3B, 1 BB, and 1 R. C-Rene Garcia was 2x4. RF-Domingo Santana was 0x5 with 1 BB and 3 K in his return from a hamstring injury.

Man of the Match: Erik Castro

Lexington (4-8) 

Lexington won this one going away as they beat the Greenville Drive (BOS) 6-2.

Mike Foltynewicz continued his strong start this season with 7 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 H and 2 BB with 6 K. Folty had 13 groundouts in the game with zero flyouts. Scott Zuloaga finished the game with 2 scoreless innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB with 4 K.

1B-Zach Johnson was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 2 RBI. 3B-Matt Duffy was 2x4 with 1 RBI. SS-James Howick went 1x3 with 1 BB, 2 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Mike Foltynewicz

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

What The Mills, Episode 2

It's time for another episode of What the Mills? where we examine decisions made by Brad Mills (full disclaimer: We haven't examined any that worked out. We'll get better about that.)

The Situation: Two outs, bottom of the 6th, 2-2 game.

The Set-Up: Houston tied up the game on Chris Johnson's single to right in the top half of the inning, also with two outs. Kyle Weiland comes in for the bottom half of the 6th inning having thrown 72 pitches. He strikes out Xavier Nady (76 pitches) and allows a first-pitch single to Rick Ankiel (77 pitches). Wilson Ramos flies out to center (80 pitches), and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina walks (85 pitches). Ian Desmond comes up with two outs, runners on 1st and 2nd, and he draws a walk, as well (91 pitches). Brad Mills leaves Weiland in to face Steve Lombardozzi, who doubles, scoring two runs, and Ryan Zimmerman, as well, who singles, scdoring two more - giving the Nationals all they need to close out the game.

The Question: Why leave Weiland in?

Rationale #1: In a situation similar to Josh Bard in Boston, Mills wanted to see him work out of his own jam.

Rationale #2: Weiland was due to hit 2nd in the top of the 7th, so if he can just get that last out, they can pinch-hit him with Justin Maxwell and hope for the best.

Rationale #3: There is no rationale. Lombardozzi was 3x3 (all singles) off Weiland. Zimmerman walked, grounded into a double play, and struck out in his three PAs - but it was 4-2 at that point. Lombardozzi had only ever faced Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, and Fernando Rodriguez before, and was 0x5. We can't look at Weiland's splits for guidance, because they're pretty much all ugly. Even if you're okay with Weiland pitching to Lombardozzi, there's really no good answer for who pitches to Zimmerman. He was 25x98 against ten Astros pitchers, with an OPS over 1.000 against five of them. Zimmerman was 0x2 against against Fernando Rodriguez (so maybe Rodriguez could have come in against both Rodriguez and Zimmerman?)

The Verdict: It's hard to say. But Weiland was clearly sputtering, having allowed four straight Nationals to reach base and break the game open. Whether it's in the name of development, or just a bad thought process, Weiland was out there at least one batter too long.

Monday, April 16, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G10 @ Nationals

Hey, at least the Astros got two earned runs off Strasburg. Astros fall to Washington, 6-3, for their 2nd straight loss, and fifth in their last six games.

Stephen Strasburg got six of the first seven batters he faced, allowing a Chris Johnson single in the first two innings, while Kyle Weiland allowed two hits in the first two innings. Altuve singled to open the 3rd inning and Weiland sacrificed him over, but Jordan Schafer struck out looking and Jed Lowrie fouled out to third to strand Altuve in scoring position.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the 3rd, Ian Desmond doubled to left, and scored when Lombardozzi bunted Weiland into committing a throwing error. Ryan Zimmerman then drew a walk, but Jayson Werth (the $126m man) flied out to center with two men on to end the inning.

Strasburg got another stretch of six out of seven batters through the 4th and 5th, while Weiland gave up a Wilson Ramos homer in the 4th with two outs to make it a 2-0 game. In the top of the 6th, Strasburg allowed the Schafer and Lowrie singles and walked Martinez to load the bases (uh-oh). Carlos Lee flied out to center, but not deep enough to score Jordan Schafer. Travis Buck struck out swinging to bring the Astros' 0-fer stretch with the bases loaded to 0x13 until Chris Johnson knocked in two runs with a two-out single. Jason Castro lined out to shortstop with runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the inning.

Then the bottom of the 6th happened. Kyle Weiland got two outs (bookended by a Rick Ankiel single, then walked Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond to load the bases (again, with two outs). Steve Lombardozzi doubled in two runs, and Ryan Zimmerman singled in two more. Four Nationals runs with two outs. Wesley Wright came in to relieve Weiland (and Astros fans), and got One of The LaRoche brothers to strike out looking.

Jose Altuve doubled to lead off the 7th, and then two Nats relievers struck out the side to strand him at 2nd. Brandon Lyon came in for the bottom of the 7th, and managed to allow four baserunners - but prevented them from scoring with the help of a Jordan Schafer outfield assist at home, nailing Ryan Zimmerman to end the 8th inning.

Between his two innings, an error by Rick Ankiel allowed Travis Buck to score after Buck doubled with one out to cut the Nationals lead to 6-3, but in the bottom of the 9th, the Astros got a walk from Jed Lowrie, but left him right there.

*The Nationals rapped out 13 hits, including four extra-base hits (three doubles, and a homer). The 13 hits allowed were a season-high for Astros pitchers, and it's the 5th time in the last six games they've allowed double-digit hits.

*After starting the season with nine earned runs in the first four games, they've now allowed 30 earned runs in their last six.

*Kyle Weiland, what the heck? After a ridiculous Spring Training, Weiland has allowed 18H/10ER in 10.2IP with 9K:4BB. And after an 0-3 season in 2011 with a 7.66 ERA, Weiland is now 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA.

*Meanwhile, the Astros were 2x14 w/RISP, bringing them to 29x101 on the season. But hey, Chris Johnson got that first hit with the bases loaded to bring that up to 1x14.

*J.D. Martinez snapped his 9-game hitting streak with an 0x4, 4K performance, which is of course a career-high. That's bad, but Preston Wilson struck out five times on April 17, 2006, and four times on April 19, 2006, with two Ks in the April 18 game - for 11K in 14PAs, all against Milwaukee. And the Astros went 2-1.

*Chris Johnson was 3x4 (when, an hour after the game was over, the official scorer gave Johnson an RBI triple, instead of an error on Ankiel) to extend his hitting streak to nine games, with multi-hit games in four of his last six. He (43PAs) and Chris Snyder (14PAs) are the only Astros with 10+PAs to not draw a walk.

*Jose Altuve was 2x4 with a double to bring his slash line to .351/.390/.486. So the first four batters in the lineup were 2x17, with 8K:2BB. The next four batters (Buck-Johnson-Castro-Altuve) were 7x16.

*Speaking of Jason Castro, his 0x4 puts him at .125/.222/.167.

*Man of the Match: Chris Johnson.

*Goat of the Game: Kyle Weiland.

*Tipping Point: It's an easy one, but the bottom of the 6th, when Weiland couldn't put the inning away with two outs. He walked two batters with two outs, and then allowed two hits for four runs. After scratching two runs back to tie the game, Weiland let it slip away.

Bogusevic, So Far

Let's take a look at Brian Bogusevic's PAs (all 35 of them so far):

Right Side
Groundout: 5
Hit: 2
Pop-Up: 1
Reach on Error: 1

Groundout: 5
Lineout: 2

Left Side
Groundout: 2
Hit: 1
Home Run: 1
Flyout: 1
Reach on Error: 1

Walk: 4
Strikeout Swinging: 3
Strikeout Looking: 2
HBP: 1

Draw from this whatever you will; That's 25 plate appearances - by no means enough to make a serious judgment, but enough to judge what's happened so far - that ended in contact. 19 of those PAs ended on the right side or the middle, and ten of those on the ground. Two of his hits (and his HR), however, came on the left side of the field. Fact is, Bogusevic has been on base eleven times in his 35PAs - four through hits, four through walks, one through HBP, and one through HBP.

Jeff Luhnow denies he's shopping Myers

Yesterday, USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Astros were shopping closer Brett Myers. Jeff Luhnow denied that report today.

Lineup for G10 @ Nationals

Zachary Levine has your lineup for tonight's game at Washington, which sees Brian Bogusevic getting a seat on the bench in favor of Travis Buck:

1. Jordan Schafer - CF
2. Jed Lowrie - SS
3. J.D. Martinez - LF
4. Carlos Lee - 1B
5. Travis Buck - RF
6. Chris Johnson - 3B
7. Jason Castro - C
8. Jose Altuve - 2B
9. Kyle Weiland - P

Know Your Enemy: April 16

The Astros continue their 10-game stretch against the NL East with a three-game series against the Nationals, who are 7-3 and leading the NL East. They had won five straight games before losing 8-5 against Cincinnati in 11 innings yesterday.

The Nationals were 3-3 against the Astros in 2011, and were 2-1 at home. The two teams have split the series 10-10 since 2009. In Game 1 of the series, they will face...

*6'4" 220lb 23-year old RHP Stephen Strasburg.
*Strasburg was the #1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, signing a four-year $15.1m contract on August 17, 2009 - the contract getting sent in 77 seconds before the 2009 deadline to sign draft picks.
*Strasburg made his MLB debut on June 8, 2010 against Pittsburgh, striking out 14 batters (a team record) in 7IP, one short of the MLB record for strikeouts in a debut game, held by Karl Spooner and our very own J.R. Richard.
*In two starts in 2012, his fastball has averaged 95mph, with his changeup coming in at 88.2mph, and his curveball at 79.8mph.
*9% of his pitches result in a swinging strike, and he's throwing a first-pitch strike 56% of the time. Only 20.2% of his pitches outside the zone are getting flailed at, (small sample size, I know), down from 33.6% in 2011.
*This will be his first home start of the season, having thrown at Wrigley and at CitiField, going 1-0 with 13IP, 7H/1ER, 14K:4BB. He threw a career-high 108 pitches on April 11 against the Mets, with 39 non-contact swings.
*In seven PAs with runners in scoring position, Strasburg was allowed only a single , for a .286 OPS.
*He was teammates at San Diego State with Lancaster's Erik Castro, who was also drafted in 2009, in the 10th Round.
*Strasburg has only faced Houston once, in 2011 (his second game back from Tommy John surgery - yet allowed 3H/1ER, 4K:0BB in 3IP), but current Astros only have seven combined plate appearances against him - with Matt Downs and Carlos Lee getting the only hits.

*Kyle Weiland takes on the Nationals, and is coming off a disappointing debut against Atlanta, throwing 5IP, 8H/4ER, 5K:2BB, and 2HR allowed.
*He has never faced any National before.

PreStros Farm Report: April 15

PreStros: April 15

Oklahoma City (8-3) 

Memphis (StL) won for the first time since opening day as they beat OKC 4-3 on a run scoring error by Angel Sanchez in the 8th.

Paul Clemens knocked a little louder on Houston’s door with a 6 inning 1 R effort. He allowed just 3 H and 2 BB with 5 K. Juan Abreu had a rough outing in relief as he allowed 2 R on 2 BB with 1 WP in just .1 IP. Enerio Rosario took the loss by allowing 1 R on 2 H with 1 K in the 8th.

RF-Collin DeLome was 2x4 with 2 R and 1 SB. CF-JB Shuck was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI. C-Landon Powell went 2x3 with 1 BB and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Paul Clemens

Corpus Christi (5-5) 

Corpus lost a pitcher’s duel Sunday to fall back to .500.

Jake Buchanan had a fine outing, lasting 6 innings and giving up just 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Kevin Chapman took the loss with 2 IP and 1 R on 2 H with 3 K.

LF-Austin Wates went 2x4. RF-Jake Goebbert provided the only run as he went 2x4 with a solo HR.

Man of the Match: Jake Buchanan

Lancaster (3-7) 

Lancaster jumped to an early lead but ultimately fell to Lake Elsinore (SD) 7-5.

Wes Musick threw 5 innings and allowed 5 R (4 ER) on 6 H and 1 BB with 7 K. By Lancaster standards that was a good outing. Jose Trinidad had 2 scoreless innings in relief with 1 BB and 1 K.

LF-Telvin Nash regained the California League HR lead with his 6th as he went 2x4 with 2 R and 1 BB. DH-Erik Castro was 2x3 with 1 R and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Telvin Nash

Lexington (2-6) 

In an effort to emulate the big league club, the Legends lost in 11 innings Sunday. An error allowed Kannapolis to score the winning run as Lexington fell 5-4.

Kyle Hallock went 5 innings and allowed 3 R on 7 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Carlos Quevedo turned in a solid 4 IP and allowed 1 R on just 2 H with 4 K. Jason Chowning was the pitcher of record and gave up 1 H and 3 BB with 1 K in 2 IP.

2B-Delino DeShields was 1x3 with 2 BB and a 2 run HR. CF-Justin Gominsky went 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Delino DeShields

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (0-0) 

Season schedule not yet posted.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try Roger Clemens again

Remember when the prosecution of Roger Clemens got thrown in the toilet in the 2nd day of the trial? Special Legal Correspondent John Royal summed up the mistrial as such:
I'll never be as big an idiot as the prosecution was today, because as I learned in law school, when a judge tells you not to do something, you don't do it.

So anyway, the government decided that the best use of time and resources in this day and age is to go ahead and see if they can figure out whether or not a baseball player lied about how he played baseball. Jury selection begins today in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A bird dies in Miami, and a legend is born

In the young days of our fine nation, we had no icons. Thus, George Washington and the Cherry Tree story (which is patently false) was born.

So it is with the Rally Bird:

In the top of the eighth inning, with the bases loaded for the Astros and Miami reliever Mike Dunn struggling mightily to keep the game from getting away, a bird of unknown species, but most likely a pigeon, fluttered its last beneath the stadium's retractable roof and plummeted to its death in right field.

Center fielder Emilio Bonifacio saw it dive. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton motioned for someone to remove the animal between pitches. Two stadium workers, with shovel in hand and no particular sense of ceremony, scooped up the bird and scooted off.

And that, friends, begins the legend of the Rally Bird, the most poignant and mysterious story ever told in the four-game history of this ballpark.

Tongue in cheek? Absolutely. Fitting for that thing in the outfield? Absolutely.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G9: Astros (4-4) @ Marlins (3-6)

JA Happ (1-0, 4.50) v.s. Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 2.84)

Heartbreaker. Absolute heartbreaker. The Astros carried a 3-2 lead from the 4th to the 8th inning, increased it to 4-2....and then gave it all away on a 2 run homerun by Hanley Ramirez in the bottom of the 8th to tie up the game. The game remained tied until the bottom of the 11th when the Marlins loaded the bases with 1 out, and Hanley Ramirez hit one off the wall in right center for the walk off win. The Astros fall to 4-5 while the Marlins improve to 4-6.

*JA Happ was very good today and deserved the win - however Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez couldn't hang onto the lead they were handed (Lopez took the Blown Save) and David Carpenter took the loss in extra innings. Happ's line: 6.0 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 2 BB / 8 K.


*What a series. All 3 games were decided in the last at-bat, and two games went 11 innings. This Astros could have easily went 3-0, but could have just as easily went 0-3. It would have been nice to have won the series, but the young Astros team did battle and it was a very entertaining series.

*We finally got the see the infamous homerun contraption do its thing today (twice). It is as ugly as it is memorizing. This was the Astros only trip to Miami this year, and with the move to the AL next year, it could be the last time we see said contraption in quite some time.

*What is with strikezones this series. Kerwin Danley was behind the plate today and had a couple of calls that made everyone wonder if he was even awake back there. Both teams were affected again, but JA Happ was really getting squeezed. One particular pitch in the 4th, the 2-1 pitch to Logan Morrison, was clearly right down the pipe according to Fox Track. While the base umpiring has been very good so far this year, the strikezones seem to perhaps have more variance from umpire to umpire than i've ever seen in the past.

*JD Martinez stayed hot with an RBI double in the 3rd to extend his hitting streak to start the season to 9 games. He ended up 2 for 6 on the day.

*Jed Lowrie went 1 for 4 with 2 walks but absolutely crushed one to the warning track in right field again today. In any other park Lowrie might have had 2 homeruns in 2 days this weekend. As it is, I love his approach and think he was an absolute steal from the Red Sox in the Melancon deal.

*JA Happ was very good today. Not only did he strikeout 8 in only 6 innings, but he got himself out of a couple of huge jams with great pitches. In the 5th he gave up a 1 out triple to pitcher Anibal Sanchez and was able to get 2 outs to strand him. Then in the 6th, he had runners on 1st & 2nd with none out and managed to get out of that, thanks to a great double play, without giving up a single run.

*The Astros were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Ouch.

*Bogey's bat finally woke up! He went 2 for 5 with 2 runs from the #5 spot, and made me look like a real jerk for being so hard on him all season. I still think him and CJ need to flip spots in the order though.

*According to, the Astros had an 89% chance of winning the game at one point (in the bottom of the 8th). It's unfortunate that 11% chance of a Marlins victory ended up at 100% for them.

Turning Point:

The Astros were up 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th and looked to be on cruise control headed to sure victory. Then Hanley Ramirez came up to bat. He hit an absolute bomb off Wilton Lopez to straightaway center with 1 on to tie the game.

Man of the Match:

JA Happ was spectacular tonight. He missed a lot of bats (8 K's) and made some spectacular pitches when needed to get himself out of some jams.

Goat of the Game:

Wilton Lopez gave up a homerun to Hanley Ramirez that might finally be landing by the time I write this recap up. The Astros hadn't given up a run since the bottom of the 4th and appeared headed to sure victory, but Wesley Wright walked the only batter he faced and Lopez gave up the bomb that tied the game and swung the momentum 360 degrees.

Special mention to Jordan Schafer and Carlos Lee who both went 0 for 5. Schafer struck out 3 times, narrowly missing out on the Golden Sombrero.

Know Your Enemy: April 15

*5'11" RHP Anibal Sanchez, 5'11" 205lb
*Signed by the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 2001.
*Traded to Marlins in 2005 off-season as part of the Beckett/Hanley deal.

*Threw a no-hitter on September 6, 2006 in his 13th career MLB start. There were six rookies in the lineup for the Marlins that day, marking the most rookies to start in a no-hitter.
*Sanchez took two no-hitters beyond the 7th inning in 2011: the Rockies broke up an April 22 no-no in the 9th, and the Nationals broke one up in the 7th on May 8.
*Sanchez started 2011 6-2, but finished 2-7.
*His first start of the 2012 season came as a 6-2 win at Philadelphia, where he allowed 6H/2ER in 6.1IP, generating just three swinging strikes in 95 pitches.

*Sanchez faced Houston once in 2011, going 4.2IP, 13H/6ER, 2K:0BB (J.A. Happ was 2x3 with 2RBI) for the 2nd win of the Astros' season.
*In five starts against the Astros, Sanchez is 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA/1.29 WHIP.
*Current Astros, pitchers included, have only faced Sanchez 38 times total. Carlos Lee is 1x11 with a walk.
*Justin Maxwell is the only current Astro to hit a homer off Sanchez.

*J.A. Happ is 2-2 in eight games (five starts) against Miami, with a 4.79 ERA/1.40 WHIP.
*Current Marlins are hitting .200/.345/.311 off Happ, with 18 hits and 19 walks.
*Giancarlo Stanton is the only current Marlin to hit a homer off Happ.
*Of Marlins with 10+ PAs against Happ, Emilio Bonifacio has had the most success, hitting .364/.429/.545 in 14 PAs. Jose Reyes has a .497 OPS; Omar Infante has a .451 OPS against Happ.

PreStros Farm Report: April 14

Oklahoma City (8-2)

Memphis scored the first three runs of the game, but OKC got the last four for a 4-3 win at Memphis, with five of their eight wins coming against the Cardinals affiliate. Henry Sosa threw 5IP, 6H/3R (2ER), 5K:1BB; and then the bullpen retired 12 of the last 13 Redbirds they faced, with Jose Valdez walking a batter in the 9th to break up the Perfecto Bullpeno. Sergio Perez threw two perfect innings, and Xavier Cedeno got the win.

The offense pulled it out despite going 1x13 w/RISP. Brian Bixler was 2x3 with 2BB, 2SB, and a solo homer. Carlos Corporan had your other multi-hit game, while Angel Sanchez was 0x1, but with 3BBs. Something to keep an eye on: Brett Wallace was removed from the game with a left oblique strain in the 3rd inning, and was replaced by Diory Hernandez.

Man of the Match: Brian Bixler.

Corpus (5-4)

Despite scoring seven runs, the Hooks fell at NW Arkansas 9-7 in a back-and-forth game that saw the Hooks take a 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st, and give it back in the bottom half. NW Arkansas took a 6-3 lead after three, then traded runs in the 4th. The Hooks got three in the top-half of the 5th inning to tie it up at 7-7, and then NW Arkansas got runs in the 6th and 8th. Brett Oberholtzer got roughed up, allowing 9H/7R (6ER), 2K:0BB, 2HR in 4.1IP; Jonnathan Aristil got the loss with 3H/1ER, 3K:0BB in 2.2IP, and Arcenio Leon gave up 2H/1ER in 1IP.

Jake Goebbert was 2x5 with an RBI and an outfield assist; Brandon Barnes was 2x4 with two doubles and 2RBI, and Kody Hinze was 2x4. Jonathan Villar was 1x4 with a walk, but committed three errors at SS. Austin Wates was 0x5, making him 1x10 since inexplicably being held out of the lineup on April 11, when he was 13x26.

Man of the Match: Brandon Barnes.

Lancaster (3-6)

Lancaster jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and cruised to a 4-1 win over Lake Elsinore. Bobby Doran threw 7IP, 7H/0ER, 7K:0BB, getting nine groundouts to two flyouts for his 1st win of the season. Kirk Clark walked one in 1IP, and Jorge De Leon allowed an unearned run to lower his ERA to 13.50.

Jio Mier hit his first homer of the season to lead off the game, and George Springer hit his 2nd of the season, as did Erik Castro.

Man of the Match: Bobby Doran.

Lexington (3-7)

No scoring in this one until the 7th inning, and it was mostly Kannapolis doing the scoring after that, in a 3-1 win over the Legends. Nick Tropeano threw 6IP, allowing just 4H/0ER, 8K:2BB, with six groundouts to one fly out. In the 23 batters Tropeano faced, he either got a groundout or a strikeout on 14 of them. Nathan Pettus took the loss with 4H/3R (2ER), 2K:1BB in 3IP.

Delino DeShields was 1x3 with a walk and his 5th SB of the season; Zach Johnson drew two walks, and Roberto Pena had the only XBH of the game, with a double.

Man of the Match: Nick Tropeano

Brett Wallace leaves game with oblique strain

Brett Wallace was removed in the 3rd inning of tonight's win over Memphis with a left oblique strain, according to The Oklahoman. More on this tomorrow, I'm sure...