Saturday, July 28, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G102 - Astros v. Pirates

Wandy Rodriguez (7-9, 3.79) vs Armando Galarraga (0-0, 0.00)

Et tu, Wandy? Armando "Almost Perfect" Galarraga pitched well in his first Astros start, and Wandy did likewise in his debut on the other side of the line. But Houston's bullpen did them in once more, sending the Astros to a franchise record 12th consecutive loss. 4-3 final, dropping Houston to 34-68 on the year.

*Galarraga gave up a tape-measure home run to the game's second batter (Alex Presley), and a triple to Garrett Jones later in the inning, but he settled in well after that, finishing with this line: 5 IP / 5 H / 3 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K. Wesley Wright took over for Galarraga in the 6th after a single and a Matt Downs error allowed the first two Pirates to reach. Wright then hit a batter to load the bases, got a double play to nearly escape, but a passed ball by Carlos Corporan let the tying run score. New Astro Chuckie Fick pitched a scoreless 7th, but he left with runners on the corners and no outs in the 8th, in favor of Fernando Rodriguez. F-Rod likewise almost escaped, getting the first two outs, before allowing the RBI single to Rod Barajas that would be the final blow. Wilton Lopez pitched a perfect 9th.


*Jose Altuve had his 36th multi-hit game of 2012, going 2 for 5 with a run scored from the leadoff spot. El Escorpion is 13 for 33 (.394) in the last 8 games.

*Carlos Corporan also continues to swing surprisingly well since getting the call from OKC. He was 2 for 4 with a RBI tonight, raising his batting average to .409 (9 for 22) in 9 games so far.

*Justin Maxwell had a clutch two-out triple in the bottom of the 5th that drove in two runs and gave Houston a 3-2 lead at the time. He'd go 1 for 3 with a run scored and a walk.

*Matt Downs (1 for 4) and Scott Moore (1 for 2) also had hits, while Chris Johnson, J.D. Martinez, Ben Francisco, and Brian Bixler all went hitless but reached on walks.

Turning Point:

The above-mentioned 8th inning. The justification given for Fernando Rodriguez's continued presence on this team is his success in keeping inherited runners from scoring, but for the second night in a row, he was brought in in just such a situation and allowed a run to score both times. As both games were 1-run affairs, that has cost Houston dearly.

Man of the Match:

Justin Maxwell. His clutch hit today, as well as his obvious enthusiasm after reaching third, are both things that this team sorely needs more of right now.

Goat of the Game:

We'll go with the bullpen collectively, excepting Wilton Lopez. Wright, Fick, and Rodriguez all played parts in letting the tying and winning runs score. Toss in Downs and Corporan for their error and passed ball contributions, as well. The Astros could have easily won 4 of their last 5, but the bullpen has made sure that the now-record losing streak continued instead.

Astros claim Steve Pearce

According to MASN's Roch Kubatko, the Astros have claimed Steve Pearce off waivers from the Orioles.

Pearce is a 29-year old OF/1B, and was the 8th Round pick by the Pirates in 2005. In parts of six seasons (career-high 60 games in 2009), Pearce is a .235/.304/.375 hitter. In 83 PAs for Baltimore in 2012, Pearce is hitting. 254/.321/.437, with 17K:8BB.

Also, the Astros optioned Enerio Del Rosario and Aneury Rodriguez to Oklahoma City, and then sent Fernando Abad with them to act as a chaperone, in order to allow Armando Galarraga to make the start tonight against Wandy's Pittsburgh Pirates. Rhiner Cruz has to stay on the roster, or get offered back to the Mets, who might actually take him back.

PreStros Farm Report: July 27

PreStros: July 27

Oklahoma City (61-45) 

The RedHawks were shutout by Iowa (CHC) 5-0.

Jarred Cosart left after 3.2 innings, allowing 3 R on 4 H and 1 BB with 5 K. Jake Buchanan threw 3.1 innings and gave up 1 unearned run on 5 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Aneury Rodriguez pitched 2 innings and allowed 1 R on 1 H and 1 BB with 3 K.

LF-Fernando Martinez was 2x3 with 1 BB and 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Fernando Martinez

*Notes: Jarred Cosart left the game with what early indications are saying was a blister issue.

Corpus Christi (60-44) 

The Hooks scored four in the bottom of the ninth to beat Midland (OAK) 6-5.

Paul Clemens threw 6.2 innings and gave up 4 R on 7 H and 1 BB with 7 K. Alex Sogard pitched 2.1 innings, allowing 1 R on 1 H with 1 K.

RF-Drew Locke was 1x3 with 1 BB and 2 R. DH-Adam Bailey went 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Adam Bailey

*Notes: The Hooks are 34-17 at home this season.

Lancaster (55-49) 

Newly acquired Blair Walters received a rude introduction to the California League as the JetHawks lost to Inland Empire (LAA) 15-1.

Walters went 2.1 innings and gave up 9 R on 10 H and 2 BB. Jorge De Leon threw 2.2 innings and allowed 5 R on 4 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Chia-Jen Lo pitched 2 scoreless innings with 1 K. Jose Trinidad threw 2 innings, allowing 1 R on 1 H with 1 K.

DH-Erik Castro was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Erik Castro

*Notes: The JetHawks are in line to take the South Division Wild Card spot.

Lexington (56-47) 


*Notes: Luis Cruz is 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA at home. Delino DeShields has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games, including a current nine game hitting streak.

Tri-City (28-11) 

The ValleyCats took both games of a double header against Hudson Valley (TB), winning the first 4-2 and the second 7-0.

Game 1
Aaron West went 6.1 innings, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB with 8 K. 1B-Jesse Wierzbicki was 2x4 with 2 R. C-Jobduan Morales went 3x3 with 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Jobduan Morales

Game 2
Brian Holmes threw 7 innings, allowing just 1 H with 6 K. SS-Joe Sclafani was 2x3 with 1 BB, 2 R, and 2 RBI. CF-Andrew Aplin was 2x4 with 2 R and 1 RBI. 1B-Jesse Wierzbicki went 2x4 with 1 3B and 2 RBI. 3B-Ryan Dineen was 2x4 with 1 RBI. LF-Jarrod McKinney was 2x2 with 1 BB, 1 3B, and 2 R. RF-Emilio King was 2x3 with 1 3B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brian Holmes


Greeneville (21-15) 

The G-Stros won a wild, offense driven game against Elizabethton (MIN) 12-9.

Frederick Tiburcio threw 5 innings and gave up 4 R (3 earned) on 4 H and 4 BB with 6 K. Zach Dando pitched 2 innings with 1 H and 1 K. Michael Dimock got .1 innings, giving up 5 R on 3 H and 2 BB with 1 K. Scott Zuloaga threw .1 innings with 1 H and 1 BB. Jordan Jankowski went 1.1 innings with 2 K.

CF-D’Andre Toney was 2x6 with 1 R and 1 RBI. 2B-Brian Blasik was 2x5 with 1 BB, 1 2B, 2 R, and 1 RBI. 1B-Jean Batista was 2x5 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. RF-Ariel Ovando was 2x5 with 1 HR. 3B-Angel Ibanez went 3x5 with 2 R. SS-James Howick was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 2B, and 3 R. DH-Ricky Gingras was 3x5 with 1 R and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Jean Batista

*Notes: The G-Stros are now 3.5 games back in the Appy League West Division.

GCL Astros (18-17) 

The Astros beat the Nationals 8-3

Reymin Guduan threw 3 scoreless innings, allowing 2 H and 2 BB with 4 K. Rodney Quintero pitched 1 inning with 1 H. Jandel Gustave went 4 innings, giving up 3 R on 3 H and 3 BB. Gera Sanchez pitched the final inning with 1 H and 1 K.

DH-Yonathan Mejia was 2x5 with 2 RBI. 2B-Juan Santana was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. C-Jon Carnahan was 2x4 with 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Reymin Guduan


DSL Astros (16-31) 

The Astros won a come from behind victory over the Royals 6-5.

Francisco Baso threw 1 inning with 2 H and 1 K. Rayderson Chevalier pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 5 R (3 earned) on 4 H and 4 BB with 4 K. Yonquelys Martinez had 2 BB. Juan Delis threw 2.2 innings, allowing 1 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Rauldison Rodriguez pitched the final inning with 1 BB and 1 K.

LF-Cristian Murillo was 2x4 with 1 2B and 2 R. 1B-Hector Roa was 2x3 with 1 SB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. DH-Brauly Mejia was 2x4 with 2 R. C-Pedro Coa went 2x3 with 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Pedro Coa


Friday, July 27, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G101 - Astros v. Pirates

Jeff Karstens (3-2, 3.52) vs Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.50)

I... I feel sick. The Astros had leads of 3-0, 4-1, and 5-4. But, not content to let just one pitcher blow another 9th inning lead, Brad Mills used three pitchers in the 9th this time. The result was the same. 6-5 Pirates final - for the 3rd time in 4 games, Houston loses by blown save, and they tie a franchise record with their 11th consecutive loss overall. Now 34-67 in 2012.

*Jordan Lyles retired the first 10 Pittsburgh batters in order, before an Alex Presley homer in the 4th, and he pitched well overall until he was chased by a leadoff double in the 7th. Fernando Rodriguez came on and allowed the inherited runner to score, so Jordan's line finished at 6 IP / 7 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 0 BB / 8 K. Mills got creative in the 8th, bringing in Wesley Wright to start the inning, moving him to RF  while Wilton Lopez pitched to the second batter, then Wright came back to the mound to finish the 8th and get the first out in the 9th. That's when the trouble started, as Rhiner Cruz couldn't get an out and loaded the bases on a single and two walks. Xavier Cedeno came on last, allowing the tying run on a sac fly and the winning run on a wild pitch, so he earned the distinction of a blown save while - officially - not allowing a run or a hit.


*Missed opportunities ultimately bit the Astros again, as the team was 2 for 14 with RISP and left 11 runners on base. They also struck out 12 times.

*Chris Johnson was a single short of the cycle, going 3 for 4 with a double, a triple, a homer, and a walk. He's now hitting .484 (15 for 31) over the last 8 games.

*J.D. Martinez also had 3 hits, going 3 for 5 with a run scored and a RBI.

*Ben Francisco was 2 for 4 with two RBIs, including a solo homer that was upheld after umpire review.

*Justin Maxwell was likewise 2 for 4, with a walk and a run scored.

*Houston's other hit belonged to Jose Altuve, who went 1 for 5 with a stolen base.

Turning Point:

The above-mentioned 9th inning. Blown save, Astros lose. Again. Enough said.

Man of the Match:

Chris Johnson. He got the hardest 3/4 of the cycle and struck out in his last shot at the necessary single, but he's still swinging a red hot bat for Houston lately.

Goat of the Game:

Rhiner Cruz. Even though Cedeno officially got the blown save, he at least retired both batters he faced. If he had come on and done that after Wesley Wright left, without Cruz in between, then I would be writing about an Astros win.

Astros claim Chuckie Fick from Cards

Jeff Luhnow just re-acquired another of his former Cardinals prospects. Zachary Levine tweets that the Astros have claimed RHP Chuckie Fick off waivers from St. Louis.

Fick is 6'5", 185, and 26 years old. He's 1-1 with a 4.68 ERA and 4.3 K/9 in 42.1 innings of relief for AAA Memphis this season; he had a 5.40 ERA in 1.2 IP split between two games with the Cardinals this year. But he posted considerably better numbers a year ago - 2.30 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.152 WHIP over 70.1 relief innings for Memphis in 2011.

Over here is an interview that Chuckie did with Future Redbirds back in 2008. And here is a pre-2012 profile by The Cardinal Nation that highlights Fick's extreme GB/FB ratio (greater than 3-to-1).

As Levine notes, this claim puts Houston's 40-man roster at 40, so the Astros will have to remove someone from the roster before Saturday's game to make room for Armando Galarraga.

UPDATE: Fick has joined the Astros in Houston, so Enerio Del Rosario has been sent to OKC to make room on the 25-man roster. But someone still has to come off the 40-man before tomorrow's game if Galarraga is coming up.

Trade Chatter: Friday

A few trade-related links, with the deadline still 4.5 days away:

*Jeff Luhnow told Brian McTaggart on Wednesday that the Astros are done "stimulating any dialogues" on further trades, but they are still listening if other teams call.

*On that point, ESPN's Jayson Stark says that he hears everyone on Houston's roster except Jose Altuve is "up for grabs."

*Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a not-entirely-flattering look at Luhnow's recent moves, though he concludes "there wasn't much more the Astros could have done."

Castro may return next week

In the latest edition of Brian McTaggart's Notebook, Jason Castro says that his troublesome right knee is feeling better, with the possibility that he'll be back on the field for Houston in about a week.

Also in Tag's notes:

*Wilton Lopez was on call as Houston's closer last night. Whether CoCo gets another shot remains to be seen...

*Wesley Wright (2008) and Bud Norris (2009) are now your Astros' senior statesmen.

*Pittsburgh's starter on Saturday will look awfully familiar, as Magic Wandy ups his street cred with a new fight song.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G100 - Astros v. Pirates

A.J. Burnett (11-3, 3.59) vs Dallas Keuchel (1-2, 4.03)

If you're gonna lose your 10th straight game, I guess it hurts less to lose the game early on, rather than saving the heartbreak and heartache all for the end again. Dallas Keuchel threw BP to the first 8 Pirate hitters, then he pitched a great game after that. But BP pitching in an official game still officially counts, so Houston's 100th game ended the way 65 others had before. Astros lose 5-3, they're 2-23 in their last 25, and 34-66 overall.

*Kid Keuchy couldn't keep the ball in the park early on, surrendering a single, a walk, and three home runs over the first inning plus. He then retired the next 10 straight, ultimately making through the 6th without allowing any more damage, but you knew that Houston's anemic offense would have difficulty overcoming a 5-run deficit. Keuchel's line: 6 IP / 5 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 2 BB / 2 K. EDR, Xavier Cedeno, and Rhiner Cruz held the Pirates to just three singles over the final three shutout innings.


*Houston mustered only two singles and a walk off of A.J. Burnett through the first 7 innings, but Burnett evidently began to tire in the 8th.

*Chris Johnson broke up the shutout with a leadoff homer in the 8th against Burnett, and he'd add a RBI single with two outs in the 9th off of Joel Hanrahan. C.J. finished 2 for 3 with a walk and a K.

*Carlos Corporan had Houston's first hit of the night - a 3rd inning single - then had their second HR in the 8th against Burnett. He ended up 2 for 3 with a K.

*Scott Moore had a 7th inning single and a 9th inning walk, the latter of which led to the Astros' final run. He went 1 for 3 with a K.

*No other Houston hitter ever reached base.

Turning Point:

After giving up three runs to the first four batters of the game, Kid Keuchy got the next two hitters to escape the 1st. But then a walk to Rod Barajas and a homer by Clint Barmes starting the 2nd dug the 5-run hole that the Astros would never climb out of.

Man of the Match:

Chris Johnson. Directly responsible for two-thirds of the Astros offense, with a nice clutch hit in the 9th, even if it ultimately was for naught.

Goat of the Game:

It's tough to give it to him, but - Dallas Keuchel. He pitched very well after he settled down, but his rough beginning spelled the Astros' end.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G99 - Astros v. Reds

Homer Bailey (9-6, 3.74) vs Bud Norris (5-8, 5.33)

Every Astros fan who ever complained about Brett Myers this season needs to sit down and write him a letter of apology. At least it took Myers 19 tries and almost three months to earn his second blown save; Francisco Cordero clearly works more quickly than that. CoCo blew his second save in as many tries, in less than a week with the Astros, and for the second straight night, Houston loses in crushing fashion. 5-3 final, the losing streak is at 9, and the overall record sits now at 34-65.

*Bud Norris still hasn't won a game since May 21, but tonight he hurled his third quality start in his last four games, so hopefully he's turning it around. He was great by every measure tonight, with a 7 IP / 5 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 7 K line. EDR walked his only hitter in the 8th, then Xavier Cedeno (called up to take Wandy's spot for now) and Fernando Rodriguez allowed the run to score, but a bizarro Houston rally in the bottom of the inning turned the score in their favor. Then Cordero came on, and once again gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning to gift wrap the game and the sweep for his former team. Fernando Abad let in one of those runs on an inherited runner before getting the final out.


*We can and should all be pissed at CoCo tonight, but the Astros actually had plenty of opportunities to win the game even in spite of his awfulness - 8 runners LOB, and 2 for 15 as a team with RISP.

*Jose Altuve is officially on fire again, going 3 for 4 with a double tonight for his fourth multi-hit game in his now five-game hitting streak. He also had a run scored and a walk.

*J.D. Martinez was almost Houston's hero, with a game-tying RBI double in the 8th, then he made it all the way home for the go-ahead run when Cincinnati made two separate throwing errors on the play. J.D. was 2 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout.

*Scott Moore also had an RBI double in the 8th, preceding J.D.'s, to go 1 for 3 with a run scored, a walk, and 2 K.

*Chris Snyder had a double as a pinch hitter in the 9th against monster closer Aroldis Chapman, which brought the tying run to the plate. But as was the story for most of the night, Houston just couldn't get it done.

Turning Point:

Drew Friggin' Stubbs. AGAIN. After Cordero gave up a leadoff double to Xavier Paul in the 9th, he sandwiched two strikeouts around a walk. That brought up Stubbs, who doubled to center on a 1-0 pitch, driving in both Reds runners.

Man of the Match:

Bud Norris. It was already tough that he left the game in line for the loss. The Astros' 8th inning saved him from that, but it was even tougher how the loss actually occurred.

Goat of the Game:

Francisco Cordero. AGAIN. Do you realize that he now has a 23.14 ERA as an Astro? TWENTY THREE POINT ONE FOUR. Small sample size, I know, but his stats in Toronto (5.77 ERA, 3 BS in 5 chances) weren't exactly great either. As Greg Lucas pointed out, we've seen nothing to indicate that Cordero isn't just done for good.


Courtesy of Greg Rajan, we find that:

Jake Buchanan, Jose Cisnero and Jarred Cosart have been promoted from Corpus to OKC.
Paul Clemens has been reassigned to Corpus from OKC.

Astros go Down Under for big 1B

As the Astros bid farewell to Wandy yesterday, they said hello to a new scouting frontier. Australian International Scout Greg Morriss signed 6'4" 16-year-old first baseman Connor MacDonald.

Of course Houston signed MLB veteran Ryan Rowland-Smith of Sydney before last season, and Craig Shipley of Parramatta, New South Wales, played for the Astros in 1995. But this is Houston's first amateur signing out of Australia.

PreStros Farm Report: July 24

PreStros: July 24

Oklahoma City (59-44) 

OKC absorbed a six run inning by Iowa (CHC) like it was nothing as the RedHawks went on to win 15-9.

Armando Galarraga threw 3 scoreless innings, allowing 1 H and 5 BB with 5 K. Aneury Rodriguez pitched 1 inning and gave up 6 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Sergio Perez went 2 innings, giving up 2 R on 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Mark Hamburger and Jose Valdez each threw 1 scoreless inning. Adalberto Flores pitched the final inning and gave up 1 R on 2 H with 1 K.

2B-Jimmy Paredes was 2x6 with 1 SB, 1 HR, and 2 R. CF-Brad Snyder was 2x4 with 2 BB, 1 HR, and 3 R. SS-Brett Wallace went 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 R, and 4 RBI. 3B-Matt Dominguez was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 HR, and 6 RBI. 1B-Mike Hessman was 1x2 with 3 BB, 1 2B, 3 R, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Matt Dominguez

*Notes: Armando Galarraga was pulled after three innings and called up to Houston to start Saturday against the Pirates. Fernando Martinez has a 12 game hitting streak.

Corpus Christi (58-43) 

Newly acquired Asher Wojciechowski pitched a gem in his debut as the Hooks beat San Antonio (SDP) 4-1.

Wojciechowski went 7 innings and allowed 1 R on 3 H and 3 BB with 6 K. Kevin Chapman threw 1 scoreless inning with 1 BB. Jason Stoffel took the final inning with 1 H and 2 K.

RF-Drew Locke was 1x2 with 2 BB and 1 R. LF-Jake Goebbert was 0x2 with 2 BB.

Man of the Match: Asher Wojciechowski

*Notes: Since June, the Hooks are 32-16.

Lancaster (56-46) 

In a rare, low-scoring California League game, the JetHawks lost to Lake Elsinore (SDP) 3-1.

Nic Tropeano threw 5 innings, giving up 3 R (2 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB with 8 K. Jorge De Leon pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing 1 H and 1 BB with 3 K. Chia-Jen Lo threw 1 scoreless inning with 2 K.

CF-George Springer was 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: George Springer

*Notes: The JetHawks are second in the league in runs per game, second to worst in runs allowed per game, and first in fewest errors.

Lexington (55-46) 

Lexington won on a walk-off single by Luis Alvarez, beating Augusta (SFG) 4-3.

Jonas Dufek threw 7.1 innings, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 8 H and 1 BB with 8 K. Mitchell Lambson pitched 1.2 innings with 1 H.

1B-Zach Johnson was 2x4 with 1 RBI. DH-Brandon Meredith was 2x4 with 1 2B and 1 RBI. C-Luis Alvarez was 1x1 with 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Luis Alvarez

*Notes: Newly acquired David Rollins has been placed on the 7-day DL, though this wasn’t unexpected at the time of the trade.

Tri-City (26-10) 

The ValleyCats won again (yawn), this time beating Connecticut (DET) 7-3.

Brady Rodgers went 7 innings, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H with 5 K. Jeremiah Meiners threw 2 scorless innings with 1 BB and 2 K.

SS-Joe Sclafani was 3x5 with 1 SB and 1 RBI. 3B-Jess Wierzbicki was 2x4 with 1 SB, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, and 2 errors. 1B-Jobduan Morales was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI. C-Tyler Heineman went 1x2 with 2 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI. RF-Preston Tucker was 2x4 with 1 R and 2 RBI. 2B-Austin Elkins was 1x3 with 2 BB, 1 SB, and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Preston Tucker

*Notes: Raul Rivera was assigned to the GCL.

Greeneville (20-14) 

The G-Stros lost in to Burlington (KC) 4-3 in 10 innings.

Daniel Minor went 6 innings, giving up 3 R on 9 H with 4 K. Mike Hauschild threw 3.2 innings and allowed 1 R on 3 H and 2 BB with 4 K.

CF-Jose Monzon was 2x5 with 1 R. SS-Jean Batista was 2x5 with 1 SB. 2B-Marc Wik went 2x5 with 2 R. 1B-Michael Martinez was 3x5 with 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Marc Wik

*Notes: The G-Stros are now 3.5 games back in the Appy League West Division.

GCL Astros (16-16) 

The Astros climbed back to .500 with a double header sweep over the Cardinals, winning the first game 3-2 and the second game 5-0.

Game 1
Michael Feliz threw 5 innings and gave up 2 R on 5 H and 2 BB with 7 K. Erick Gonzalez got the save with 1.2 innings with 1 H and 3 K. SS-Carlos Correa was 2x3 with 1 HR. DH-Rio Ruiz was 2x3 with 1 R. RF-Teoscar Hernandez went 2x3 with 1 2B and 1 RBI

Man of the Match: Carlos Correa

Game 2
Enderson Franco threw 7 shutout innings with 6 H and 2 K. 2B-Brett Phillips was 2x4 with 1 SB, 1 2B, and 2 R. SS-Carlos Correa was 2x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 2 R.

Man of the Match: Enderson Franco

*Notes: Carlos Correa is hitting .289/.325/.474 over his last 10 games, with four doubles, two steals, and 8 runs scored.

DSL Astros (13-30) 

The Astros lost to the Mariners 7-5.

Harold Arauz threw 1 inning with 1 H and 1 K. Samil De Los Santos pitched 5 innings and gave up 3 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB with 6 K. Javier Saucedo went just .2 innings, giving up 4 R (3 earned) on 1 H and 3 BB. Victor Mesa pitched 1.1 innings with 1 H, 1 BB, and 1 K.

LF-Mesac Laguna was 2x5 with 1 RBI. SS-Jean Carlos Cortorreal was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI. CF-Jarico Reynoso was 2x4 with 1 2B.

Man of the Match: Jean Carlos Cortorreal


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G98 - Astros v. Reds

Mike Leake (3-6, 4.25) vs Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.24)

There are no happy endings in Astroland these days. Tonight's game was pushed to the back burner when news broke that the last 2005 Astro is now a Pirate, but it looked like the night would be at least bittersweet as Houston was headed to victory. Shame on us for hoping. Astros lose, 4-2, and fall within a game of their 2011 pace at 34-64.

*Speaking of 2005 - remember Roger Clemens that season? How he often couldn't buy a win, no matter how well he pitched? Well, Lucas Harrell is your new Roger Clemens (and in Wandy's departure, your staff ace). Lucas' line tonight: 7 IP / 7 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 6 K. Wilton Lopez did his job with a scoreless 8th, but then Francisco Cordero blew it all to hell with a 0.2 IP / 3 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 2 BB / 0 K line. Houston's only remaining Rodriguez then did what "CoCo" couldn't and got the 27th out.


*Justin Maxwell provided all of Houston's scoring against Mike Leake with a 2-run HR in the 4th, his 10th of the season. J-Max went 1 for 4 with a K.

*Jose Altuve had this third multi-hit game in four tries, and now has hits in four straight, going 2 for 4 again tonight.

*Chris Johnson also had his third multi-hit game in the last four, and he's now hit in five straight. CJ was 2 for 4 with a run scored.

*Marwin Gonzalez (1 for 3, BB, K), Ben Francisco (1 for 4, K), and Harrell (1 for 2) had Houston's remaining hits.

Turning Point:

Drew Friggin' Stubbs. New closer Cordero came on to lock down the save, and he recorded the first out in short order, but then Zack Cozart singled, bringing Stubbs to the plate. Cordero's 2-0 pitched landed in the Crawford Boxes, and no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

Man of the Match:

Lucas Harrell. At least he got a no decision this time, I guess...

Goat of the Game:

Francisco Cordero. Thanks for helping us miss Brett Myers.

Who's in, who's out

Here are the players the Astros have traded since Jeff Luhnow took over in December 2011:

Mark Melancon (BOS)
Jason Bourgeois (KC)
Humberto Quintero (KC)
Justin Ruggiano (MIA)
Carlos Lee (MIA)
Brandon Lyon (TOR)
J.A. Happ (TOR)
David Carpenter (TOR)
Brett Myers (CHW)
Wandy Rodriguez (PIT)

Players received:
SS Jed Lowrie (BOS)
RHP Kyle Weiland (BOS)
LHP Kevin Chapman (KC)
OF D'Andre Toney (KC)
C Jobduan Morales (MIA)
3B Matt Dominguez (MIA)
LHP Rob Rasmussen (MIA)
RHP Francisco Cordero (TOR)
OF Ben Francisco (TOR)
RHP Joseph Musgrove (TOR)
RHP Asher Wojciechowski (TOR)
LHP David Rollins (TOR)
C Carlos Perez (TOR)
Player to be Named Later (TOR)
RHP Matt Heidenreich (CHW)
LHP Blair Walters (CHW)
Player to be Named Later (CHW)
LHP Rudy Owens (PIT)
LHP Colton Cain (PIT)
OF Robbie Grossman (PIT)

Pirates trade three prospects for Wandy

Keep it posted here, because reports say that the Pirates are close to trading for Wandy Rodriguez.

If the Astros don't get the Clemente Bridge in the package, I'm gonna be pissed.

8:09pm: Jon Heyman is reporting the deal is done.

8:11pm: Money is apparently changing hands. Keep checking back for the return.

In return for Wandy, the Astros receive LHPs Colton Cain, Rudy Owens, and OF Robbie Grossman.

Alright, let's do this.

Colton Cain is a 6'3" 225lb 21-year old LHP out of Waxahachie High School, and was the 8th Round pick of the 2009 draft by the Pirates. In three seasons (55 appearances, 48 starts) he has a 10-15 record, with a 4.04 ERA/1.18 WHIP. In 229.2IP, he has allowed 195H/103ER, 179K:75BB. Pirates Prospects has a run-down here.
So far in 2012 for High-A Bradenton, Cain is 3-5 in 16 starts, with a 4.20 ERA/1.24 WHIP, allowing 10HR in 75IP.

Rudy Owens is a 6'3" 230lb 24-year old LHP, and was the 28th Round pick of the Pirates in 2006. For Triple-A Indianapolis in 2012 (a repeat year from 2011), Owens is 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA/1.17 WHIP, with 85K:25BB in 117.1IP. Owens dealt with left shoulder soreness and fatigue in 2011. Here's a pre-2011 article on Owens' plans to get to the Majors.

Robbie Grossman is a 6'0" 205lb 22-year old switch-hitting OF out of Cy-Fair High School, and was the Pirates' 6th Round pick in the 2008 draft. For Double-A Altoona in 2012, Grossman is hitting .262/.374/.403, with 77K:58BB in 413PAs. He had a breakout year in 2011 for High-A Bradenton, hitting .294/.418/.451, with 49 extra-base hits in 616 PAs, with 111K:104BB.

Trades are a nice start, but what about the offense?

When Matt Cain happened back on June 13 (sorry), a lot of national media had a lot of fun at the Astros' expense - "it deserves an asterisk, it's ONLY the LASTros" kind of junk. But reality was that the Astros, while slumping, still had a middle-of-the-road offense at the time. In 61 games leading up to June 13, Houston as a team posted a .253/.318/.389 line, which would place them around 8th or 9th in the 16-team National League today. Here's the lineup that Brad Mills trotted out that night, with their 2012 stats through June 12:

CF Jordan Schafer (.246/.319/.328)
2B Jose Altuve (.325/.365/.477)
SS Jed Lowrie (.284/.358/.522)
LF J.D. Martinez (.230/.324/.362)
1B Brett Wallace (.385/.484/.731)
3B Chris Johnson (.284/.327/.433)
RF Brian Bogusevic (.228/.305/.345)
C Chris Snyder (.194/.292/.333)
P J.A. Happ (.091/.167/.091)

The Astros played 30 more games after that night before last Thursday, when Edinson Volquez came within three walks and an excuse-me infield squibbler of matching Matt Cain's feat. These Astros, however, were not the ones that Cain faced. Over the intermining 30-game stretch, Houston put up a .219/.292/.350 collective line, which would deservedly be last in the majors. By a lot. Their lineup vs. Volquez, with stats through July 18:

2B Jose Altuve (.290/.333/.419)
SS Marwin Gonzalez (.294/.326/.388)
3B Scott Moore (.235/.268/.451)
LF J.D. Martinez (.243/.316/.393)
1B Matt Downs (.191/.238/.409)
RF Justin Maxwell (.225/.312/.442)
CF Jordan Schafer (.230/.311/.312)
C Chris Snyder (.182/.300/.307)
P Lucas Harrell (.212/.212/.212)

Of the players involved in both games, only Martinez took a step forward. Maxwell exceeds Bogusevic in power, Harrell is a better hitter than Happ, but every other position featured a significant drop-off at the plate. Houston is now 15th of 16 in NL team batting average and falling fast, ahead of only the San Diego team that just outscored them 17-8 in a four-game set.

The Astros are 8-27 since June 14. Of course the pitching hasn't been great either, but in that stretch, they've lost 10 games they would have won if they had scored just a league-average 4.22 runs per game. Instead, they've scored 3.1. With those 10 games, they could be above .500 over the last month plus.

Now, we know that Jeff Luhnow is working on it. He has a plan in place, and he's executing it. In the last three weeks, he's unloaded three of Houston's Big Four Contracts (Lee/Lyon/Myers), and it seems likely that the fourth - Wandy Rodriguez - is soon to follow. But with our limited view of that plan, the work-in-progress we can see is frustrating to watch every night.

Of the 10 names we know that Houston has received this month, 7 are pitchers. One is a defense-first 3B prospect, one is a single-A catcher, and only one - Ben Francisco - could be any help to the immediate offensive woes. Where is Brett Wallace? Where is Jimmy Paredes? What about Brandon Barnes, or giving Fernando Martinez more than a 4-game concussion-addled chance? J.B. Shuck lacks power, but he's a OBP machine. Is career .259 hitter Francisco really supposed to be our offensive savior?

Mostly those are intended as rhetorical questions - Luhnow has promised us at least Wallace soon, and I'd wager there's more on the way than that. This is a team building for the long-term, to get good and stay good, and trades are a big part of that building process. Luhnow's focus this month, then, is rightly on maximizing those trade possibilities until the July 31 deadline. After that, he's hinted at a flurry of moves throughout the farm system, and it's fair to believe that those moves will also affect the big club. Why not promote some kids now? We don't know why, but kudos at least to Luhnow for sticking to his plan. It's a better plan than this Houston franchise has seen in a great many years.

Patience, patience, Astros fans. The team you see now is not the team you'll see soon, and the end of the dark days is in sight.

Tuesday Morning Link Dump

Plenty of stuff from the Astros beat writers for your reading pleasure this morning.

*From the Chronicle's Zachary LevineJeff Luhnow says the salary savings from this month's trades mean the Astros "will be active" in this winter's free agent market, though not "bidding on the big-name" guys.

*From's Brian McTaggart: Jed Lowrie is still booted, but Jason Castro is feeling better and hoping to return... soonish.

*From FS Houston's MoiseKapenda Bower: "It's nice to have some sizzle, but we're looking for the steak." Great read on the philosophy going into Luhnow's recent (and possible upcoming) moves.

*Lost under the trade avalanche over the weekend, Levine reported that Luhnow said the White Sox PTBNL will be a significant part of the Myers deal.

*Not from an Astros writer, but also from the weekend, Ken Rosenthal was told that it "will be a while" before Wandy gets dealt.

Monday, July 23, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G97 - Astros v. Reds

Mat Latos (7-3, 4.33) vs Wandy Rodriguez (7-8, 3.75)

The Astros' road woes are beginning to leak into their homestands. There wasn't any single huge inning that doomed Houston's hopes tonight, but the Reds still put up 8 runs, the Astros' offense couldn't pass muster, falling 8-3. It's the sixth time in their now 7-game losing streak that Houston has surrendered at least 8 runs to their opponent, and they're now 34-63 on the year.

*Wandy didn't start strong, giving up three runs in the first three innings, but he settled down and only gave up a single in three more innings after that. Wandy's line: 6 IP / 7 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 3 BB / 6 K. The normally trusty Wilton Lopez wasn't, allowing two runs in two thirds of an inning. Wesley Wright gave up a single to the only batter he faced, then EDR coughed up three hits and three runs in one inning of work. Abad allowed one of Del Rosario's runners to score, then he and Rhiner Cruz finished out the night with 1.1 scoreless.


*It was a night of missed opportunities at the plate, as the Astros left 13 runners on base.

*Houston's 11 hits were only the second time they've reached double digits in that column since the All-Star Break.

*Chris Johnson led the way, going 4 for 5 with a double and a RBI.

*Ben Francisco singled twice and went 2 for 4.

*Hopefully this means that Altuve is back, but he was 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored, and he now has a three-game mini-streak.

*Marwin Gonzalez continues to acquit himself nicely since stepping in for Jed Lowrie, going 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, a run scored, and a RBI.

Turning Point:

The way the Astro offense has scuffled lately, you didn't like their chances when they got down 3-0 early. In the bottom of the 5th, however, it looked like their luck might be changing. Four hits sandwiched around a RBI groundout cut Cincinnati's lead to 3-2, and Houston still had two on with only one out. But Mat Latos struck out Francisco, intentionally walked Schafer, then popped up Chris Snyder to end the Astros inning, and you felt their chances at a win slipping away.

Man of the Match:

Chris Johnson. A non-critical error notwithstanding, four hits and a great diving catch made CJ the star tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Wilton Lopez. At 3-2 Cincinnati, the game was still within striking distance, but instead of holding the line, Lopie let the Reds extend their lead by two more with nine outs to go - not enough time for Houston's anemic offense to recover.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G96 - Astros @ Diamondbacks

Jordan Lyles (2-6, 5.29) vs Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.90)

Big innings keep killing the Astros. Yesterday it was a five-run 4th; Friday it was a five-run 5th. Today it was a seven-run 6th, and Houston gets swept by the D-backs with an 8-2 defeat. The Astros limp home on a six-game losing streak, after a 1-9 road trip, now 34-62 overall.

*Jordan Lyles' middle name is Horton, but perhaps it should be Hyde - he has been two different men in 2012. In six of twelve starts before today, he's posted a 2.52 ERA and averaged 6.2 IP per game (Dr. Jekyll). In his other six starts, he's put up a 9.29 ERA and averaged only 4.2 IP per start (Mr. Hyde). Or maybe you prefer the more modern Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk analogy, but Lyles made it through 5.1 brilliant today before the gamma rays got to him. His line: 5.2 IP / 10 H / 8 R / 5 ER / 0 BB / 2 K, but six of those hits and seven of those runs came after the first 5.1 IP. Wesley Wright inherited two runners from Lyles and allowed both to score, then pitched a scoreless 7th. Fernando Abad added a perfect 8th.


*Jose Altuve had his second straight multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk from the leadoff spot.

*Scott Moore also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with two doubles and a run scored.

*Justin Maxwell launched a monster shot to center in the 2nd, for his 9th HR of the year. He'd finish 1 for 3.

*Carlos Corporan went 1 for 3 and now has a four-game hitting streak (!), tying the longest of his career.

*Marwin Gonzalez (1 for 4), Chris Johnson (1 for 4, 2B, RBI), and Brian Bogusevic (1 for 4, K) had Houston's other hits.

Turning Point:

The fateful bottom of the 6th. Moore and CJ had back-to-back doubles in the top of the inning to give Houston a 2-1 lead, and the way that Jordan Lyles had been pitching, it seemed like that might have been enough. But a leadoff fly out in the Arizona half of the 6th was followed by five singles, a homer, a fielding error by Gonzalez, then a passed ball and another single after Wright took over.

Man of the Match:

Scott Moore. His second double led to Houston's second run, and an all-too-brief Astros lead.

Goat of the Game:

Jordan Lyles. He's the youngest starting pitcher in the National League, and he's shown plenty this season to indicate that his future may yet be bright. But he's the epitome of youthful inconsistency, and alas, today was a mini-capsule of his 2012 season.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G95 - Astros @ Diamondbacks

Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 2.45) vs Wade Miley (10-5, 3.13)

Even with a good offense, it's tough to win when your pitching staff gives up 25 runs in two days, and 42 runs in five (and that includes Lucas Harrell's 1-run gem). Jason Kubel clubbed three homers for Arizona, Dallas Keuchel's return to the bigs was a rough one, and the Astros got their butts whupped 12-3. The new road losing streak is now at 5 games, and Houston falls to 34-61 overall. 

*Dallas Keuchel got the call from OKC to replace the only Astros starter who had won a road game since June 14 (Happ). Unfortunately it didn't go much better for Kid Keuchy last night than it did for Bud the night before. His line: 3.1 IP / 7 H / 7 R / 6 ER / 4 BB / 1 K. Fernando Rodriguez returned to form, giving up 2 runs in 1.2 IP. EDR gave up a run in his inning, Rhiner Cruz gave up two in his, and only Wilton Lopez escaped the night with a scoreless line.


*Jose Altuve came back from a day off by going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. This was his first multi-hit game since the All-Star Break.

*Justin Maxwell and Chris Johnson were also each 2 for 4, with a run scored and a RBI a piece.

*Ben Francisco is Houston's new RF against lefties, so he got the start against Wade Miley but went 0 for 4.

*Matt Downs had another hit, going 1 for 4. He's on a personal 5-game hitting streak, batting .471/.471/.882 over that stretch.

Turning Point:

After Kubel's first homer gave Arizona a 2-0 lead in the first, Houston cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the 4th. Any potential momentum died in the bottom half of the inning, however, when Keuchel loaded the bases with no out on a double, a walk, and his own fielding error on a sac bunt attempt. A sac fly and a single made it 4-1 Arizona, then Kubel launched his second HR of the game, this time for 3 runs, and the rout was on.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. With Lowrie hurt, Lee traded, and virtually everyone else in a slump, Houston badly needs Jose to be the kind of offensive catalyst that he was for most of the first half.

Goat of the Game:

Dallas Keuchel. Young pitchers, even the best, are gonna take their lumps every now and then. Let's hope this is the exception, not the rule, for Dallas.