Saturday, August 4, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G108 - Astros @ Braves

Lucas Harrell (8-7, 4.03) vs Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.74)

Victory! It took the Astros seven games to record their first win in July; they joined the August win column in only three. Justin Maxwell and Lucas Harrell both came up big in Atlanta tonight, propelling Houston to a 3-2 win. The win is Houston's 11th on the road, and they improve to 36-72 overall.

*Lucas Harrell did what we're starting to expect Lucas Harrell to do, keeping his opponent under control all night. His control started slipping in the 6th, as he walked the bases loaded and allowed two runs on a Dan Uggla single, but he still finished with a solid 6 IP / 4 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 5 BB / 5 K line. Giving credit where credit is due, the bullpen was great for the second night in a row, as Fernando Rodriguez, Wesley Wright, and Wilton Lopez combined for three scoreless, hitless, walkless innings. Only a HBP by Lopez in the 9th kept the bullpen from being perfect, but he still recorded his first save since 2010.


*Justin Maxwell single-handedly spoiled Paul Maholm's Braves debut, going 4 for 4 with 2 HR (both off Maholm), driving in all three of Houston's runs. The home runs were Maxwell's 11th and 12th of the season, and this was his second career two-HR game (9/12/09 vs. Florida).

*Ben Francisco struck out three times in four at bats, but he singled and scored in front of Maxwell's first homer in the 4th.

*Jose Altuve's hitting streak was broken, and his batting average dropped to .299, but he also walked three times in four plate appearances.

*Matt Downs had a multi-hit day himself, singling twice to go 2 for 4.

*J.D. Martinez had a double and went 1 for 4.

Turning Point:

Harrell left the game after six strong innings with the scored tied 2-2, but J-Max didn't leave it tied for long. He launched the second pitch of the 7th inning deep into Turner Field's left field seats, giving Harrell - and Houston - the win.

Man of the Match:

Justin Maxwell! HUGE game tonight from Houston's center fielder.

Goat of the Game:

Do we have to? Brett Wallace, I suppose, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts from the cleanup spot, and leaving three runners on base.

Friday, August 3, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G107 - Astros @ Braves

Armando Galarraga (0-0, 3.60) vs Tim Hudson (10-4, 3.68)

It was nice while it lasted - 48 hours without an Astros loss. Unfortunately they didn't play any games during that time, either. There's no shame in losing a game like this against Tim Hudson, but it's still another loss, and Houston's latest losing streak is now at four games. 4-1 final tonight, and the Astros drop to 35-72 in 2012.

*Armando Galarraga gave up five hits in his 5.1 IP, but four of those were doubles. Paired with 7 walks and a hit by pitch, he's lucky that the damage wasn't any worse. Galarraga's line: 5.1 IP / 5 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 7 BB / 4 K. Kudos to the bullpen tonight, as Wesley Wright, Mickey Storey (in his ML debut), and Rhiner Cruz combined for 2.2 innings scoreless, allowing only a walk by Wright and a double against Cruz.


*Only four singles tonight for Houston against Hudson, along with a pair of walks and one hit batter (Brett Wallace).

*Jose Altuve led off the game with a single, going 1 for 4 and keeping his average at .300. El Escorpion is now on a 7-game hitting streak, and has hit safely in 12 of his last 13.

*Ben Francisco was 1 for 3 with a walk, and he scored the Astros' only run.

*J.D. Martinez was 1 for 4 and drove in Francisco on a fielder's choice in the 6th.

*Jordan Schafer (1 for 4) had the other hit, and Wallace (0 for 2) had the other walk to go with his HBP.

Turning Point:

Galarraga pulled off a high-wire act in the 1st, walking the bases loaded but escaping without allowing a run. He couldn't keep it up forever, though, as a Michael Bourn fly out was followed by a Martin Prado double and a walk to Jason Heyward in the 3rd. That brought up career Astros killer Chipper Jones, who doubled to drive in both runners, giving Atlanta all the runs they would need. Marwin Gonzalez missed a popup by Dan Uggla later in the inning that was ruled a double and drove in Jones to make it 3-0 Atlanta.

Man of the Match:

Mickey Storey. He retired both Braves he faced - Dan Uggla on a ground out, Paul Janish on a popup - in his first ever big league game.

Goat of the Game:

Armando Galarraga. It could indeed have been much worse, but it was still bad enough for the loss.

Cordero to DL, Storey up

Moar tranzactionz! Francisco Cordero has been placed on the 15-day DL with a chronic case of suck right foot sesamoiditis ("toe inflammation," says Zach Levine). To take his spot in the bullpen, the Astros have purchased the contract of RHP Mickey Storey from Oklahoma City.

Storey, 26, will be making his major league debut after five seasons in the minors. Acquired by trade from Oakland last season, he's put up a 7-4 record with a 3.05 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 in 65 innings primarily of relief work (2 starts in 38 games).

If my count is correct, this move puts Houston's 40-man roster back at a full 40.

Chris Devenski is PTBNL in Myers deal

The Brett Myers trade is now complete, and RHP Chris Devenski is the PTBNL. He was Chicago's 25th round selection last year out of Cal State Fullerton and didn't sign until August, hence his PTBNL status in this deal, as it hadn't yet been a year since his signing until now.

Devenski, 21, is a 6'3", 195 lb. starter/reliever who has spent the season with the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators. He's 6-5 with a 4.23 ERA, 7.9 K/9 in 61.2 IP over 19 games (8 starts) this year, but looking at his stats page, it appears he was moved from the bullpen to the rotation on June 25. He has a 3.92 ERA as a starter since then, including a 7 IP / 3 H / 1 R performance in his most recent start on July 31.

He will report to Class A Lexington.

Astros acquire Garrett Mock from Red Sox

Zachary Levine of the Chronicle just posted that Houston has traded for RHP Garrett Mock from the Boston Red Sox organization in return for "future considerations." He'll join Oklahoma City.

Mock, 29, is a Houston native and a UH alum. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010 with Washington; he went 4-13 with a 5.17 ERA over 135.2 IP (55 games, 19 starts) from 2008-2010 with the Nats. He's generally been more effective as a reliever, however, with a 5.68 ERA and .310 BAA in those 19 starts, but a 3.92 ERA and .226 BAA in 36 appearances out of the bullpen. This season with AAA Pawtucket, he's pitched to a 3.33 ERA with 5 saves and 53 K in 48.2 IP (35 games).

Both Mock and yesterday's signing, Brian Sanches, will hopefully provide some relief to OKC and their 5.32 team ERA, as well as being potential big league options should any of Houston's current relievers get hurt or shipped out.

Courtesy of Our Fearless Leader: "The future considerations to Boston include a written thank-you card for Jed Lowrie, and a Queso Flameado from Taqueria Del Sol"

Dallas Keuchel and Adjustments

It's not been pretty for Dallas Keuchel lately. In his seven starts for the Astros this season, he's sporting a 5.77 ERA/1.67 WHIP, with 14K:25BB and 8HR in 39IP. It started out well enough, though. In his first three starts (20IP), he allowed 14H/3ER, albeit with 8K:9BB, for a 1.35 ERA/1.10 WHIP - including a complete game against the Indians on June 23rd, his 2nd Major League start.

In the four starts since then, though...dadgum. His BABIP rose from .194 in the first three starts to a far more normal/brutal .313. In his last four starts, he's thrown 19IP, allowing 26H/22ER, 6K:16BB, 6HR, and a 1.119 OPS-against, for a 10.42 ERA/2.21 WHIP.

Should we be worried? Well, yeah. There's no way to spin the last four starts to say anything otherwise. If you allow as many homers as you get strikeouts (six), there's some cause for alarm. But let's take a look at Keuchel's history in advancing levels to see if there's something at the end of the rainbow besides a knife-wielding leprechaun, who is also a card-carrying member of the IRA.

2009: Tri-City

Hard to gauge anything here, because Keuchel made 10 starts (11 appearances), throwing 56.2IP, and posting a 2.70 ERA/1.08 WHIP overall. In those ten starts, he threw 52IP, allowing 43H/13ER. The one relief appearance was a disaster, in which he gave up 9H/4ER in 4.2IP. He was fresh off a College World Series appearance, so he ostensibly was better than most of his competition.

2010: Lancaster / Corpus

Aha. Here's our first good example of Keuchel's level adjustments. Keuchel started the 2010 season at High-A Lancaster. In 19 appearances (18 starts), Keuchel threw 120.2IP, allowing 129H/45ER, with 97K:25BB, for a 3.36 ERA/1.28 WHIP. Not bad, huh? Well, the beginning was rough. In his first three games for the JetHawks, Keuchel allowed 28H/15ER, with 13K:2BB, in 13.1IP. That's a 10.15 ERA/2.25 WHIP. There were some hiccups the rest of the way, to be sure, but after those three appearances? 107.1IP, 101H/33ER, 84K:23BB, or a 2.77 ERA/1.16 WHIP.

So he got promoted to Corpus. And got roughed up. In nine starts for the Hooks towards the end of the 2010 season, Keuchel posted an overall 4.70 ERA/1.30 WHIP. But in his first five starts at Double-A (26.1IP), Keuchel allowed 33H/17ER, with 20K:4BB, which translates into a 5.82 ERA/1.41 WHIP. In his last five starts of the 2010 Corpus season, he turned it around for 26H/11ER, 16K:7BB in 27.1IP (3.63 ERA/1.21 WHIP).

2011: Corpus / Oklahoma City

Another year, another promotion. Keuchel started the season at Corpus, and picked up where he left off with those last four starts. In 20 starts for the Hooks in 2011, Keuchel posted a 3.17 ERA/1.12 WHIP, which earned him an August promotion to Oklahoma City, which did not go well, at least initially.

In his first two starts for the RedHawks (who were miserable in 2011), he threw 5.1IP, allowing 18H/18ER, 1K:4BB. That's "good enough" for a 30.57 ERA and a 4.13 WHIP in those two starts. Bad, right? Well, in his final four starts for OKC in 2011, Keuchel threw 30.2IP, allowing 27H/11ER, with 10K:7BB - a 3.23 ERA/1.11 WHIP.

This brings us to 2012. Clearly throughout his career, Keuchel has had a rough start to a new level, and made adjustments. Save your jokes about the 2012 Astros, but they're obviously not in the minors anymore. Look, yeah, Keuchel's career minor-league walk rate was 1.9 BB/9 innings. In the majors, it's 5.8 BB/9. He's not going to strike a bunch of people out (5.9 K/9 in the minors), and major-league hitters aren't going to swing at his pancakes. But, for now, anyway, I do think Keuchel will be able to make the adjustments he needs to make to be a serviceable starting pitcher. And to be perfectly honest, would you rather let a 24-year old Dallas Keuchel see if he can figure it out, or let Nelson Figueroa pitch? Give the guy time, he's proven that he at least deserves a chance to right the ship.

Keuchel started his Major-League career out strong, and hitters made adjustments. The question is whether Keuchel will be able to adjust to the adjustments.

Good or bad representative?

If you're going to smile for the camera after getting bloodied up and allegedly throwing drugs out of a pick-up near 225 and Richey, is this how you'd want to look?

(Photo by KTRK)

Hey, if you're going to jail for (probably) a long time, you might as well go with blood all over your Beat the Cardinals shirt.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Astros sign Brian Sanches

Christopher Dabe of the Beaumont Enterprise reports tonight that the Astros have signed Beaumont native and Lamar alum Brian Sanches. Sanches, 33, is a righty reliever who was just released from AAA Lehigh Valley in the Phillies organization. He will report to Oklahoma City.

Sanches was 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA in 6.1 IP for the Phillies this season, and 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 IP for Lehigh Valley. He posted a 2.92 ERA In 181.2 IP (147 G) over three seasons with the Marlins before that.

PreStros Farm Report: August 1

PreStros: August 1

Oklahoma City (62-49) 

The RedHawks lost their fourth straight as they fell to Tacoma (SEA) 7-4.

Jake Buchanan threw 4 innings and gave up 5 R on 7 H and 4 BB with 1 K. Fernando Abad threw 2 scoreless innings with 1 H and 4 K. Hector Ambriz went 1 scoreless inning with 2 K. Jose Valdez pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 R on 4 H with 1 K.

DH-Travis Buck was 2x4 with 1 2B and 2 R. RF-Brad Snyder was 3x4 with 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Brad Snyder

*Notes: Despite a team ERA in July of 6.45, the RedHawks finished the month 16-12.

Corpus Christi (64-45) 

The Hooks won their third straight one-run game, beating San Antonio (SD) 10-9.

Paul Clemens threw 5 innings and gave up 6 R on 7 H and 2 BB with 10 K. Adalberto Flores pitched 1.2 innings, allowing 2 R on 4 H with 2 K. Alex Sogard went 1.1 innings with 1 H. Jason Stoffel pitched 1 inning and gave up 1 R on 2 H and 1 BB with 1 K.

LF-Marc Krauss was 1x3 with 2 BB, 1 HR, 3 R, and 3 RBI. 1B-Jonathan Singleton was 2x4 with 1 BB and 2 R. 3B-Bobby Borchering was 1x4 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. SS-Ben Orloff went 3x4 with 1 2B and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Marc Krauss

*Notes: Jay Fernandez was sent to Corpus from OKC. Ryan McCurdy went from Corpus to Lexington. Corpus was 20-10 in July.

Lancaster (57-52) 

The JetHawks bombed Stockton (OAK), winning 15-2

David Martinez threw 6 innings, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Pat Urckfitz pitched 3 scoreless innings with 3 H, 1 BB, and 1 K.

SS-Alex Todd was 2x6 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI. 1B-Erik Castro was 2x4 with 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, and 5 RBI. RF-Domingo Santana went 2x3 with 2 BB, 1 2B, 2 R, and 1 RBI. C-Carlos Perez was 4x6 with 1 2B, 3 R, and 3 RBI. 2B-Enrique Hernandez went 2x5 with 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Erik Castro

*Notes: The JetHawks are one game behind Lake Elsinore (SD) for the South Division Wild Card spot.

Lexington (60-49) 

Legends pitchers out dueled their counterparts to beat Asheville (COL) 3-2.

Luis Cruz lasted 6 innings and gave up 2 R on 6 H and 1 BB with 8 K. Murilo Gouvea threw 2 scoreless innings with 1 H and 1 K. Dayan Diaz pitched 1 inning with 2 K.

3B-Matt Duffy was 2x3 with 1 BB and 1 R. LF-Brandon Meredith was 2x4 with 1 R.

Man of the Match: Luis Cruz

*Notes: Matt Duffy has been hit by pitch 29 times this season. The entire West Virginia team has been hit 30 times.

Tri-City (30-13) 

Despite out hitting their opponent, the ValleyCats lost 1-0 to Batavia (STL).

Vincent Velasquez turned in 6 strong, scoreless innings, allowing just 2 H and 3 BB with 8 K. Jamaine Cotton threw 2 scoreless innings with 1 H and 2 K. Blake Ford pitched 1 inning and gave up 1 R on 2 H with 1 K.
C-Tyler Heineman was 2x4. RF-Preston Tucker was 2x4.

Man of the Match: Vincent Velasquez

*Notes: With only about a month left in the season, the ValleyCats have a 10 game lead in their division. They have the best pitching and second best offense in the league.

Greeneville (23-18) 

The G-Stros scored four in the seventh the beat Kingsport (NYM) 7-4.

Frederick Tiburcio threw 4 innings, allowing 3 R on 3 H and 3 BB with 1 K. Mike Hauschild went 2 innings and gave up 1 R on 1 H with 2 K. Euris Quezada threw 2 scoreless innings with 2 K. Jordan Jankowski pitched 1 inning with 2 K.

3B-Angel Ibanez was 3x5 with 2 R. 1B-Jean Batista was 2x4 with 1 SB, 1 2B, and 2 R.

Man of the Match: Angel Ibanez

*Notes: The G-Stros have a 1.5 game lead for the second playoff spot in the West Division.

GCL Astros (19-20) 

The Astros lost to the Cardinals 5-1 in a rain shortened game.

Raul Rivera threw 4 innings and gave up 2 R on 4 H and 1 BB with 4 K. Edison Frias pitched 2 innings, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB with 2 K.

CF-Brett Phillips was 2x3 with 1 3B and 1 R.

Man of the Match: Brett Phillips

*Notes: Through 17 innings, Raul Rivera is sporting a strong 8.0 K/BB ratio.

DSL Astros (16-35) 

The Astros lost their fourth straight, getting beat by the Rays 8-4.

Harold Arauz threw 3 scoreless innings with 1 H and 2 K. Erick Hurtado pitched 2 innings and gave up 3 R on 4 H. Jesus Castillo went 3 innings, allowing 2 R on 2 H and 2 BB with 3 K. Angel Heredia threw 1 inning, giving up 3 R on 3 H.

LF-Hector Roa was 2x4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

Man of the Match: Hector Roa

*Notes: Writing recaps for a team that loses this much isn’t fun. I guess this is how the County Clerk must feel. (Hiyo!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G106 - Astros @ Brewers

Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.54) vs Mike Fiers (4-4, 1.77)

So... Brett Wallace had himself a pretty nice day. Jose Altuve is still hitting .300, and Xavier Cedeno pitched a perfect 8th. Pretty much everything else was completely disastrous for the Astros, and Milwaukee completes the sweep with a 13-4 score. At 35-71, Houston is tied with themselves at this point one year ago.

*Jordan Lyles was a victim of some bad defense early on, but he quickly became a victim of himself after that. His line today: 5 IP / 9 H / 9 R / 7 ER / 2 BB / 3 K. Fernando Rodriguez gave up a Ryan Braun solo shot in the 6th. Francisco Cordero is really and truly awful (but we knew that already), as he gave up another three runs in one inning of work, raising his 18.00 ERA with Houston to a shiny 19.80. Only Xavier Cedeno had a decent turn atop the mound today.


*Brett Wallace did indeed have himself a pretty nice day, launching two home runs good for three RBI, finishing 3 for 4. It was his first career 2 HR game.

*Jose Altuve went 1 for 5 with a 3rd-inning single that drove in Houston's other run.

*Marwin Gonzalez did also go 2 for 3, and Ben Francisco went 1 for 4 with a double.

*No Astro drew a walk in today's game.

*The defense was just as awful as the pitching, committing four errors. That included two by 3B Scott Moore in the first inning alone, one by Brian Bogusevic in the 2nd, and one by Jose Altuve in the 4th.

Turning Point:

The score was a reasonable 3-2 Milwaukee midway through the 5th, in spite of all the early errors, but that's when things completely fell apart for Jordan Lyles and the Astros. Two singles were followed by what appeared to be a blown safe call on a steal at third base by Nyjer Morgan, then another single by Braun made it 5-2. A wild pitch, a double, and a pair of homers would up the score to 9-2 before the inning was over.

Man of the Match:

Brett Wallace. Proving why he belongs in Houston, rather than OKC.

Goat of the Game:

Jordan Lyles. Sorry, son, but you're gonna lose if you give up 9 runs.

Jason Castro to begin rehab assignment Friday

Brad Mills says that Jason Castro - who hasn't played since July 7 - will begin a rehab assignment with Corpus on Friday.

Kevin Goldstein's traded-prospect rankings

Kevin Goldstein ranked all (Insider-Only) 43 minor-league players traded in July. What does it mean for Houston?

The Pirates haul was the best trade (which makes sense, since it was for Wandy), with Robbie Grossman coming in as the highest-ranked new Astros prospect, at #5 and Rudy Owens at #9.

Click the link for more info...

Wilton Lopez has some elbow tightness

Brian McTaggart tweeted (yesterday afternoon) that Wilton Lopez experienced some tightness and was "unavailable tonight."

To over-examine a tweet, "tonight" means that they're being precautionary with it, which is good. But it's obviously a troubling sign for the Closer-Who-Has-Not-Yet-Closed (a new category in ESPN Fantasy Leagues).

UPDATE: Zachary Levine updates this story, saying that he's available to pitch today, and that he just had a hard time getting loose before last night's game.

Also in the 2nd link, we find that there's no timetable for Jed Lowrie's return, and J.D. Martinez has been out with an elbow issue after he slipped in the dugout. If that's not the most Astros thing you've heard today, I can't help you.

Jobduan Morales seeing time at 1B

Catcher Jobduan Morales - acquired from Miami in the Justin Ruggiano trade - has been spending some time at 1B for Tri-City.

The Troy Record's Ed Weaver:
He could be in a higher league but the Astros wanted him to work on his throwing and play a little first base.

He started at first base for the first time this season two weeks ago and made two leaping catches of line drives.

“That felt good,” he said.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G105 - Astros @ Brewers

Dallas Keuchel (1-3, 4.63) vs Yovani Gallardo (8-8, 4.07)

That did not go well. That did not go well at all. Dallas Keuchel was wild, which is bad news for a control pitcher, and Yovani Gallardo was as dominant as Houston has come to expect (11-2, 2.72 career vs. Astros). It added up to a 10-1 loss, dropping the Astros to 35-70 overall. Houston finishes the worst month in franchise history with a 3-24 record.

*Kid Keuchy ran into trouble from the outset today, and it never got much better. He made it into the 5th, but didn't record an out then before leaving, so he finished with this line: 4 IP / 7 H / 7 R / 7 ER / 6 BB / 1 K. Chuckie Fick inherited two runners from Keuchel, and immediately let both score on a three-run HR to Corey Hart, but he allowed no further runs in three innings of work after that. Rhiner Cruz allowed the final two Brewer runs in his one inning of work.


*Uuuuuuuuuugly. Gallardo has a history of dominating Houston, but the Astros didn't make it hard on him tonight either.

*Chris Snyder had Houston's first hit, and their only extra-base hit, with a solo home run leading off the 3rd. Jordan Schafer followed with a walk, which was the Astros' last base runner until the 6th.

*Jose Altuve had two of Houston's five hits, singling twice to go 2 for 4. That brought his average back over .300, to .302, for the first time since the All-Star Break.

*Brett Wallace (1 for 4) and Brian Bogusevic (1 for 1) had a single each for Houston's other two hits.

*Steve Pearce was the Astros' only other base runner, when he was hit by a Jim Henderson pitch in the 8th.

Turning Point:

Milwaukee took the lead in the 1st and never gave it back, but Snyder's homer at least cut the lead to 2-1 in the middle of the 3rd. But then the first three Brewers went double (Carlos Gomez), walk (Ryan Braun), 3-run HR (Aramis Ramirez) off Keuchel to begin the bottom of the 3rd.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. He's 18 for 43 (.419) with 7 multi-hit games in his last 11.

Goat of the Game:

Dallas Keuchel. Unlike the rough beginning to his last start, after which he settled in, he never found that groove tonight.

Norris surfacing in rumors

The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connelly tweeted (and I don't have the link for it) that he's heard Bud Norris' name surface as a possible target for Baltimore's rotation.

Revisiting the Pence trade

Dash Treyhorn takes a look back 365 days ago, when the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence. Definitely worth a read.

(Link hopefully fixed)

Monday, July 30, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G104 - Astros @ Brewers

Bud Norris (5-8, 5.05) vs Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.52)

Don't call it a comeback... but it almost was. Bud Norris was brilliant early on, the bullpen was predictably awful, but this time, Houston kept fighting back. The comeback fell short by the slimmest of margins, as J.D. Martinez was called out at first by a fraction of a second to end the game, on a play that would have scored the tying run. But replays showed the call was correct, and Houston loses 8-7, falling to 35-69 in 2012.

*Bud Norris was nigh unhittable for the first six innings, allowing only a pair of infield singles up to that point. A walk-homer-double combo chased him from the game in the 7th, then Francisco Cordero came on and allowed the inherited runner to score, so Bud finished with this line: 6 IP / 4 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 3 BB / 3 K. Cordero allowed two runs of his own in an inning of work, and Xavier Cedeno allowed three more on a three-run homer to Cody Ransom that ended up as the winning blow... barely.


*Give the kids credit - they didn't play today like a team that has only won three games all month. When they got knocked down, they got right back up again.

*Steve Pearce led the way, going 2 for 3 with a double, 3 RBI, and 2 sac flies. He also had a spectacular running catch in right field on Corey Hart in the 6th.

*Jose Altuve was a multi-hit man again, going 2 for 3 with a walk, a RBI, a stolen base, and 3 runs scored.

*Scott Moore also had a multi-hit performance, going 2 for 4 with a mammoth solo blast to right field in the 7th. It was his 5th HR of the season, in 89 AB.

*Brian Bogusevic (single) and Justin Maxwell (double) both had RBI pinch-hits in the 9th.

*Brett Wallace went 0 for 4 with a HBP in his return to the big leagues.

Turning Point:

After Cody Ransom's three-run blast made it 8-4 in the 8th, it looked like the Astros were done, but they had one last push left in them. The 9th went like this: Corporan pop out, Schafer walk, Schafer to 2nd on fielder's indifference, RBI single Bogusevic. Pitching change, Altuve walk, RBI double Maxwell. Pitching change, RBI sac fly Pearce, Wallace HBP. J.D. Martinez came up then with the tying run on 3rd and the go-ahead run on 1st; he grounded to short and only just got thrown out at first to end the game.

Man of the Match:

Steve Pearce. Great game all-around by Houston's newest right fielder tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Co-goat award goes to Francisco Cordero and Xavier Cedeno. A combined 2 IP / 6 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 1 BB / 1 K line cost the Astros a win in a game they controlled most of the way.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brett Wallace freed!

The Brett Wallace Liberation Front can finally lay their hashtags to rest. Following today's game and the Chris Johnson trade, Brett Wallace has been recalled from Oklahoma City. To make room on the active roster (and to give OKC a replacement shortstop), Brian Bixler has been sent down. Wallace will play first and third base in Houston, as well as backup short.

Also, both players acquired in the Johnson deal - Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss - have been sent to AA Corpus Christi. Borchering will be moved back to 3B.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G103 - Astros v. Pirates

James McDonald (10-4, 3.15) vs Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.07)

AT LONG LAST. If you could get past the bullpen's brutality, you may have felt this coming this week. Even as the losing streak stretched out to 12 games, Houston kept getting close - the streak started with blowouts, but not so the last 5 days. Sooner or later, they had to put it all together. Today, they finally did. Astros win, 9-5, ending their freefall and improving to 35-68 overall.

*Lucas Harrell may be Houston's ace now, and he certainly pitched like it today. The only runs he gave up came on a Garrett Jones moon launch to the upper reaches of right field in the 4th, but he kept Pittsburgh overmatched besides that. Lucas' line: 5.2 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 5 K. He came out after loading the bases with two outs in the 6th, but Fernando Rodriguez came in and did his job today, safely recording the third out. That began a parade of six relievers who mostly pitched well, save for the run that F-Rod gave up in the 7th and the two runs that Chuckie Fick surrendered without logging an out in the 9th. Wright, Cordero, Cedeno, and Lopez all had scoreless fractions of innings.


*Big game today by the Astros offense, even after trading away one of their hottest hitters in Chris Johnson. 9 runs were their most in a game since scoring 9 against KC back on June 18.

*Houston scored at least once in every inning from the 3rd through the 7th. That marked the first game in which they scored in four or more consecutive innings since the second half of the May 28 doubleheader in Colorado.

*Marwin Gonzalez led the offense with 3 H, and 3 RBI on a bases-loaded, two-out double in the 7th. He was 3 for 5 including another double and a run scored.

*Scott Moore, taking over 3B for CJ at least today, also had a pair of RBI singles. He went 2 for 4 with a walk.

*Jordan Schafer capitalized on his first start since Tuesday, launching a 2-run homer in the 4th off of James McDonald. It was Schafer's fourth of the season, and his first since June 23 against Cleveland. He added another RBI on a fielder's choice in the 5th, finishing 1 for 3 with a walk.

*J.D. Martinez opened the Astros' scoring with a sac fly driving in Jose Altuve in the 3rd. J.D. went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a walk.

*Speaking of Altuve, he doubled and walked twice to go 1 for 3 with two runs scored.

*Steve Pearce made his Astros debut as their starting first baseman, doubling in the 5th to go 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Turning Point:

Houston was up 5-2 in the 6th, but it looked like Harrell then began to tire. After recording the first two outs, Lucas loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks. Brad Mills then brought in Fernando Rodriguez to face world-beater Andrew McCutchen in a pinch-hitting role. McCutchen has been on fire and may be the best player in the National League this season, so he's the last man you want to see up there with the bases loaded. But Rodriguez got him to pop to second on a 2-1 count, preserving the Astros' lead.

Man of the Match:

Plenty of heroes today, but we'll give it to Lucas Harrell, who finally got some run support and earned his 8th win.

Goat of the Game:

Good feelings all around, but if there must be a goat, I'll pick Chuckie Fick (whose name we must be careful about typing). It never got uncomfortably close, but Fick was handed a 9-3 lead to start the 9th, and gave up three singles and a wild pitch without recording an out to make it 9-5. Given the context of the last five games, it just made the 9th inning a little more interesting than we all would have liked.

Chris Johnson traded to Diamondbacks

The overhaul continues - Houston has announced today that they've traded third baseman Chris Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for AA outfielders Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss.

Borchering, 21, is a 6'3", 200 lb. switch-hitting corner outfielder converted from a 1B/3B earlier in his pro career. He's struggled to a .130/.183/.208 line in 77 AB since getting promoted to AA Mobile, but he put up a .277/.340/.534 line with 18 HR and 60 RBI in 307 AB at High A Visalia before that. He was Arizona's 1st round pick (16th overall) in the 2009 draft out of Bishop Verot HS in Fort Myers, FL.

Krauss, 24, is a 6'2", 235 lb. left-handed corner outfielder who has also seen a bit of time at 1B. Krauss has a .283/.416/.509 line with with 15 HR and 61 RBI in 346 AB for AA Mobile this year. He was a 2nd-round pick (64th overall) in Arizona's 2009 draft out of Ohio University in Athens, OH.

Yesterday's waiver claim Steve Pearce will take CJ's spot on the 25-man roster today.

The Agony of Waiting

If you were like me, December was the worst month. Not only was there no baseball, but it was cold. Sure, there was no school, and Christmas was coming, but that made it worse. The calendar ground to a halt, and everywhere you turned you were reminded that there were only X shopping days until Christmas. It was torture.

This is what I've been thinking about for the last month while I've waited for the Astros to win more than two games.

We can spit statistics st you about how bad this team is. Truth is, you already know. This is an incredibly frustrating time for the Astros (hopefully) and their fans. Every loss chips away at our goodwill towards mankind, our patience, and our ability to hide how much the losing affects us to our family and friends. Chances are you are more on edge, snappier, angrier, more liable to take your dog for an aggressive walk, or change a diaper like a roided-out ball of rage.

The 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134, generally considered to be the worst team in baseball history. They played the last half of the season on the road, afraid to play in front of their own fans. Baltimore's Hall of Fame manager John McGraw fined and suspended a hungover pitcher who lost to the Spiders.

We may be at the point where teams play the Astros harder, so they don't become the team that lost to Houston. This is the dark part. It can't get much worse. The 2012 team may be worse than, or at least as bad as, the 2011 team. But it doesn't mean that it won't get better. These days have been a long time in coming, and to echo what numerous people have said, it's going to take some time to get out of it. Help is, presumably, on the way. It might not be next season, it might not be 2014. But it will get better. The Cleveland Spiders ceased to exist after that 1899 season. At least we know the Astros will play next year.

Commenter Jeff somewhat condescendingly told us to remove our heads from our rectums and trust in Luhnow's plan. He's right, of course. To think that the Astros won't get better is not feasible, if only from an emotional standpoint. It doesn't mean that this season is not borderline ridiculous. The Astros are finding new and exciting ways to lose games every day. But you have to admit, it's easier to be freezing cold if you know Christmas is coming.