Saturday, September 15, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G146 - Astros v. Phillies


Kyle Kendrick (9-10, 3.83) vs Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.35)

At the end of the 2011 season, the Astros had the chance to play spoiler against the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. That didn't work out so well, but it seems these 2012 Astros are determined to make the most of their spoiler opportunities this year. Tonight they win 5-0 against the Phillies, moving back to .500 in September at 7-7; six of those wins have come against teams in the playoff hunt. For at least one more day, they also stave off 100 losses, now at 47-99.

*Dallas Keuchel hadn't won a game since going the distance in his second big league start back on June 23. He wasn't quite that sharp tonight, but he was still more than good enough to earn his second big league win. Kid Keuchy's line: 5.1 IP / 5 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 4 BB / 0 K. Mickey Storey struck out both batters he faced in returning from his scary line-drive-to-the-face incident on Wednesday. Xavier Cedeno, Hector Ambriz, and Wesley Wright then contributed a scoreless inning each to close out the victory for Houston.

Observations:

*Justin Maxwell kept his hitting streak alive - now 9 games - and got the Astros on the board early again with a two-run homer in the 1st. He finished 1 for 4 with a K, and the HR was his team-leading 16th.

*Jose Altuve led off the game with a single and scored on Maxwell's blast, finishing 1 for 3 with a RBI of his own on a ground out in the 2nd.

*Jason Castro went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs scored.

*J.D. Martinez also had a multi-hit night, going 2 for 4 with a RBI.

*Brett Wallace doubled to go 1 for 4 with a RBI and 3 K.

*Dallas Keuchel also logged his second big league hit, going 1 for 2 with a run scored.

*Jed Lowrie (1 for 4) and Matt Dominguez (1 for 4, K) had the Astros' other hits.

Turning Point:

Like last night, the winning team took control in the first, but this time, it was the Astros. The Phillies loaded the bases in the top of the 1st but failed to score, then Jose Altuve led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Fernando Martinez grounded out and Brett Wallace struck out against Houston native Kyle Kendrick, but then Justin Maxwell sent a full-count changeup to the Crawford Boxes for the only runs that Houston would need.

Man of the Match:

Dallas Keuchel. The Kid did great against a Phillies offense that scored 16 runs in the first two games of this series.

Goat of the Game:

We like winning. Let's do more of it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G145 - Astros v. Phillies


Cole Hamels (14-6, 3.03) vs Edgar Gonzalez (2-0, 1.74)

Some nights you've got it, and some nights you don't. For the second game in a row, Philadelphia jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Last night, the Astros turned that around, but tonight, the Phillies were far from done. Houston never got closer than 5-3 and ultimately fell to the Phillies by an ugly 12-6 score. The Astros now sit one defeat away from consecutive 100-loss seasons, at 46-99.

*Whatever magic Edgar Gonzalez may have harnessed in his first two starts back in the Bigs was not with him at all tonight. He was down 3-0 before recording an out, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 4th, ending his night with this line: 4 IP / 6 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. The shutdown bullpen from last night was nowhere to be found tonight, as Chuckie Fick (0.1 IP, 2 ER), Fernando Rodriguez (0.2 IP, allow two inherited runners to score), Jose Valdez (1.2 IP, 2 ER), and Enerio Del Rosario (0.1 IP, 3 ER) all dug the hole even deeper for Houston. Rhiner Cruz finally ended the night with two scoreless frames, but the cows had long since left the barn.

Observations:

*It's a shame Houston's pitching staff was so awful tonight, because their offense actually did relatively well against Cole Hamels and the Phillies. The four runs Hamels surrendered were the most he's allowed since July 27 against Atlanta.

*Matt Downs came into tonight 2 for 4 with a walk and a double in his career against Hamels, so he got the start in RF and justified Tony D's decision. He launched a two-run homer into the Crawford Boxes in the 4th, finishing 1 for 3.

*Jose Altuve had his second straight multi-hit game, going 3 for 5 with a double, a K, and two runs scored.

*Justin Maxwell's hitting streak is now at 8 games, as he launched his team-leading 15th home run onto the train tracks in the 5th. He finished 1 for 4 with a K and two runs scored.

*Matt Dominguez added his own multi-hit attack, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.

*Brett Wallace (1 for 5, 2 K) and Jed Lowrie (1 for 4, K) had Houston's other two hits.

Turning Point:

There was still plenty of scoring to come from both sides after the 1st, but Philadelphia took control of this one early and never looked back. Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a solo homer, followed by a walk and a steal from Juan Pierre. Chase Utley singled to make it 2-0, then stole second himself, before Ryan Howard drove him home on a ground-rule double. Edgar Gonzalez got "Chooch" Ruiz to fly to right for the first out, and Domonic Brown grounded out for the second, but then John Mayberry singled to score Howard and to give Cole Hamels a 4-0 lead before he ever took the mound.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. He's now hit safely in all three of his starts since returning from an abdominal strain.

Goat of the Game:

Every Astros pitcher save for Rhiner Cruz. No one had an answer for the Phillies tonight.

Astros extend with Lancaster

Brian McTaggart says the Astros have extended their PDC with the California League's Lancaster JetHawks for two years through the 2014 season.

That leaves Lexington as the only affiliate not yet to re-up. And, I'm afraid, the longer this goes, the worse of a chance there is of the Astros re-upping with the Legends.

Tony DeFrancesco interviews

Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco interviewed for the manager position today, according to the Chronicle's David Barron.

DeFrancesco:
“I know the players, I know the organization, and I left there with some confidence. I’m happy to even have an opportunity to be chosen.”

Hard to argue with that.

Astros Interview Rays bench coach

The Astros have interviewed Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for the manager position.

Martinez has been the Rays bench coach since 2008.

Click here for a sourced Manager Search timeline.

Larry Bowa was in town, but for baseball-related matters

Brian McTaggart is reporting that he picked up Larry Bowa from the airport today, but is only in town for "baseball-related matters," not necessarily regarding the open managerial position.

Luhnow, who picked up Bowa at the airport on Friday morning, wouldn’t confirm whether Bowa was a candidate for the full-time managerial position. Bowa, before leaving the airport, said he was meeting to “exchange baseball ideas.”

This will be good, because I've been thinking of a "Bowa Constrictor" meme for quite some time.

Three PreStros to play in WBC Qualifying

Via What the Heck, Bobby we learn that three PreStros will be playing in the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds starting next week.

Ben Orloff and Josh Zeid will suit up for team Israel (under manager Brad Ausmus), and Alex Sogard will represent the Czech Republic.

Baseball America's 2012 Minor-League All-Star Team

Baseball America posted their (see above) today. Why do we care? Because, for once, the Astros are getting some minor-league love...

Click the link for the write-ups, but it includes Jon Singleton and Delino DeShields on the First Team at 1B and 2B, respectively.

UPDATE: Now, with link.

UPDATED UPDATE: Now with this link, we find that DeShields was the Low-A Player of the Year.

Friday Morning Link Dump

Here's your Friday morning link dump...

*In the story about the Astros interviewing Bo Porter, Luhnow explains what he's looking for in a manager. (Chronicle)

*J.D. Martinez will likely be playing winter ball. Luhnow wants him to play in Venezuela, but the volatile elections are making that difficult. (Chronicle)

*Bud Norris is having his next start skipped, due to a blister issue. (Astros.com)

*CSN Houston hired its first on-air talent from Washington. (Washington Post)

*No, Milo Hamilton did not pass away last night. (Lance Zierlein)

From the Office of the County Clerk: G144 - Astros v. Phillies


Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 4.24) vs Lucas Harrell (10-9, 3.83)

When the Astros were nearly at .500 late in May, optimism was running high. The calendar turned to June, and that optimism was tempered, as they lost two out of every three games. Then July and August happened, and the 2012 Astros were historically bad. But the Astros of September are not playing like the Astros of the preceding two months. Down 4-0 against a hot team after three innings? No problem! The July/August Astros might have rolled over at that, but your current Astros stormed back for a 6-4 victory. They're now 6-6 in September and 46-98 overall.

*Lucas Harrell started out shaky again with Jason Castro starting in place of his usual caddy, Chris Snyder. But this time, Lucas settled down after the early trouble and very nearly turned in another quality start, with this line: 5.2 IP / 7 H / 4 R / 3 ER / 5 BB / 4 K. He had already been lifted in favor of Xavier Cedeno after a single and two walks loaded the bases in the 6th, but then home plate umpire Bill Miller ejected Harrell anyway for barking at him as he walked off the field. Cedeno (1 IP), Hector Ambriz (0.2 IP), Wesley Wright (0.2 IP), and Wilton Lopez (1.0 IP) combined thereafter to keep the Phillies off the board over the final 3.1 frames. Wright was credited with his first win of the season, and Lopez earned his fifth save.

Observations:

*Matt Dominguez is doing all he can to help get the Astros ready for the American League: Land of the Three-Run Homer. Matty D launched his third three-run blast in a week, finishing 1 for 3 with a walk, a strikeout, and two runs scored.

*Jose Altuve was back to form tonight with a multi-hit game, going 2 for 5 with a team-leading 30th stolen base.

*Jason Castro did his part in Synder's place, going 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored.

*Justin Maxwell kept his now-seven-game hitting streak alive, going 1 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout.

*Tyler Greene added a double to go 1 for 3 with a K, before giving way to Jed Lowrie...

*...then Lowrie came up huge in the clutch, doubling home two runs in a pinch-hit appearance in the 8th.

*Brandon Barnes came in on defense in the 7th, but he had himself a nice night at the plate nonetheless, going 2 for 2 with a RBI and his first career big league SB.

*Jimmy Paredes had Houston's 10th hit, finishing 1 for 3 with 2 Ks.

*Jordan Lyles had the odd distinction of scoring a run in a game he didn't start, as he pinch ran for Scott Moore after Moore was hit by a pitch in the 8th.

*Fernando Martinez went 0 for 2, but he still managed to reach base again, getting HBP himself in the 3rd.

Turning Point:

The 4-3 Phillies' lead remained unchanged from the bottom of the 4th until the bottom of the 8th, but that's when Houston started cooking again. After Justin Maxwell flied out to start the inning, Jason Castro walked. Jordan Schafer pinch ran for him, but was caught stealing for the second out, before Matt Dominguez also walked. Scott Moore pinch hit next and was hit by the first pitch he saw, leading to a Philadelphia pitching change and Jordan Lyles' pinch-running appearance. Jed Lowrie pinch hit then, and he took Jake Diekman's second pitch deep to the gap in right center, doubling home both runners to put Houston ahead for the first time all evening. Brandon Barnes singled thereafter to drive home Lowrie for an insurance run.

Man of the Match:

Jed Lowrie. Huge in the clutch! Hopefully Houston will have a happy problem with both him and Tyler Greene next season.

Goat of the Game:

Take that, Ed Wade.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bo Porter to interview for managerial position

Oh hey! Nationals 3B coach Bo Porter is interviewing for the Astros' managerial position.

Why, it's almost like we asked for this to happen two days ago.

Furthermore, Jim Crane even picked him up from the airport.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G143 - Astros v. Cubs


Travis Wood (5-11, 4.42) vs Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30)

No matter how good your pitching staff, it's very hard to win ballgames when you only score one run. For three straight games, against the 14th-best pitching staff in the league, only one Astro crossed home plate each night. That they managed to scratch out a win in one of those games is impressive, but tonight, it was all Cubs. Astros lose 5-1, for their 98th defeat of the season.

*None of Houston's pitchers tonight were completely awful, but most of them were not particularly effective either. Fernando Abad started and didn't make it through the fourth, leaving with two runners on and a 3.1 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 2 K line. Chuckie Fick kept those two from scoring, but allowed a run of his own in the 5th. A scoreless 6th from Enerio Del Rosario was followed by Fernando Rodriguez giving up a run in the 7th. The 8th was scary for Mickey Storey, as after recording the first out, Dave Sappelt hit a liner back to the mound that glanced off Storey's shoulder before catching him hard in the face. He walked off on his own, but Jose Valdez came on and allowed the run to score. Rhiner Cruz then allowed one more run in the 9th.

Observations:

*Very little on offense for the Astros once again - six hits and three walks, but most of that didn't come until the 8th or 9th inning.

*Brandon Barnes had Houston's only extra-base hit, and their only multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored, and a strikeout.

*Jose Altuve returned to the starting lineup and went 1 for 4 with a K.

*Jed Lowrie likewise returned to the lineup and went 0 for 3 with a walk and a K.

*Justin Maxwell extended his hitting streak to six games, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a K.

*J.D. Martinez went 1 for 4 with a particularly frustrating strikeout (more on that in a minute), though he did also have a nice outfield assist, gunning down Alfonso Soriano trying to stretch a single into a double.

*Fernando Martinez had the other hit, and the only RBI, with a single in a pinch-hit appearance. He's now reached base in 9 straight games when getting at least one plate appearance.

Turning Point:

Until Brandon Barnes' two-out double in the 8th, the Astros had only managed three singles and a walk against Travis Wood all game, never getting two runners on in the same inning or getting any runner past first base. Barnes' double was followed by a RBI pinch-hit single from Fernando Martinez, then Altuve singled and Lowrie walked to load the bases. Down 4-1, J.D. Martinez came to the plate representing the go-ahead run, but he struck out to end Houston's only significant scoring threat.

Man of the Match:

Brandon Barnes. He'd be getting a nice set of headphones if the Astros had somehow won.

Goat of the Game:

Plenty of scapegoats both at the plate and on the mound, but J.D. Martinez had the most notable failure. He was in line for Man of the Match until Barnyard started the rally that J.D. killed.

Ticket Sales had the idea to open the season against the Rangers

Apparently the idea to open the season against the Rangers came from Ticket Sales.

George Postolos, noting that Sales had concerns about moving to the Americal League:
“One of our ticket sales people raised his hand and had an idea that we would start off the season by playing the Rangers at home and that that would be a good way to celebrate the move to the American League West and them becoming an intrastate and intradivision rival.”

So there you have it.

Deadspin takes Tony DeFrancesco/Astros organization to the woodshed

Deadspin has a post up about the "news" that Tony DeFrancesco is handing out Dr. Dre's headphones to players who perform well during the last three weeks of the season. Brace yourself, because it's brutal.

The real problem here is that the Astros have a roster full of players so bad and poorly paid that they might actually play harder for fancy headphones. That's how the manager's logic works, anyway. It's much more bush league than big league.

I thought about trying to respond in a contrary manner. But I can't. It's dead on. The Headphone Incentive is something you try to keep In Tha Clubhouse - because there's no way to defend it. The Astros - no matter how bad they are - get paid at the very least hundreds of thousands of dollars to play a game. If they play harder because there's a set of $200 headphones on the line, isn't that a little insulting?

Ultimately, we all perform better when there's an extra reward on the line. Whether that's meeting a sales goal, or eating ten hot wings that make your tailpipe burn with the fire of a thousand suns under six minutes in order to get a polaroid of our broken-out face on a wall, we're - as a society - perfectly happy to go an extra twenty feet for a stupid reward.

But not if you're making over $400,000/year. The fact that five Astros got a pair of headphones for winning a 1-0 game on an unearned run deserves all the scorn that Deadspin is willing to hand out.

Knee-jerk reaction to 2013 schedule release

Brian McTaggart has a link to the 2013 Astros schedule, just released at noon.

1) The Astros do, in fact, open the season at home against Texas.
2) The Astros play their first 15 games - and 18 of 21 - against AL West opponents, so we should have a pretty good idea how the year is going to go by mid-April.
3) The other April series against non-AL West teams are at home to Cleveland, at Boston and at New York.
4) The Astros play the entire NL Central during 2013, including home-and-home series against the Rockies and Cardinals. So I guess that makes the Cardinals the Astros "rivals." Interesting.
5) The Astros have home games during Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.
6) There's absolutely no way Minute Maid Park gets the All-Star Game while Selig is commissioner - the Boos would be deafening.

Early 2013 schedule to be released today, maybe

Zachary Levine tweeted a link to the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin's post on the Rays' schedule for 2013.

While we, of course, don't know the Astros' schedule, we do know that the Astros will play the Rays at home in a four-game series from July 1-4 (as Levine notes, this will be the first time the Astros have played at home on July 4 since 2007), and in Tampa from July 12-14.

I've been curious as to whether The Schedulemaker will throw the Astros some holiday home game bones to boost attendance. Looks like the Astros do get at least one holiday at home.

UPDATE: The schedule will be released at 12pm Central.

Playoff Report: Sept 11

Two good nights for the Astros affiliates...

Lancaster

Heading into Game 4 against High Desert, up 2-1, the JetHawks didn't get off to a great start, allowing three first inning runs. The JetHawks got one back in the bottom of the inning, but it was 3-1 High Desert going into the 4th. The teams traded runs, with the JetHawks scoring one in the bottom of the 5th and two in the bottom of the 6th inning to take a 5-4 lead. High Desert answered with two runs in the top of the 7th for a 6-5 lead. Then the 8th inning happened, and Lancaster scored four runs to provide the final margin - 9-6 - and clinch the South Division Championship.

Nick Tropeano allowed 9H/4R (3ER), 6K:1BB; Carlos Quevedo allowed 1H/2ER, 2K:2BB in 0.2IP (both runs allowed by Pat Urckfitz). Jorge De Leon got the win with 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB.

Rafy Valenzuela was 3x4 with a double and 2RBI, Delino DeShields (BB, 3R) and Erik Castro (2B, BB, 3R) had two hits each. Jio Mier had 2RBI.

Man of the Match: Rafael Valenzuela.

The Cal League Championship Series begins Saturday against an opponent to be determined.

Tri-City

Hudson Valley's Luke Maile hit a two-run homer in the top of the 1st, and the Hudson Valley ValleyGirls (I'm 99% sure that's not what they're called) added another on to give them a 3-0 lead after the 1st. Tri-City roared back (get it?) with two runs in the 2nd and 3rd for a 4-3 lead that held up until the 9th, when Hudson Valley tied it up at 4-4. The ValleyCats got three straight singles to lead off the bottom of the 10th and Preston Tucker hit a deep fly ball to right, scoring Ryan Dineen from 3rd, and putting them one win away from their 2nd NYPL title in three years.

Juri Perez allowed 3H/3ER, 4K:3BB; Vincent Velasquez allowed just 2H/1ER (the game-tying homer in the top of the 9th), 2K:1BB in 3.1IP of relief, and John Neely got the final five outs for the win.

Austin Elkins (HR, 2RBI) and Ryan Dineen (2B) had two hits each; Joe Sclafani was 1x3 with 2BB. Dan Gulbransen hit a two-run homer in the 2nd inning.

Man of the Match: Everyone gets the MotM.

30-year mark falls in win vs. Cubs

It took far too long to find this, so we're making a separate post out of it.

Last night the Astros beat the Cubs, 1-0, on an unearned run. When was the last time the Astros won a 1-0 game on an unearned run?

How about April 8, 1982. The Astros - at home - beat the Cardinals and Joaquin Andujar, who threw 7.2IP, 6H/1R (0ER), 7K:1BB, took the loss.

Bob Knepper got the win, allowing just 4H/0ER, 5K:0BB in 8IP. Dave Smith got his first save of the season.

So how did the Astros score the run? Art Howe doubled to lead-off the inning and Dickie Thon, the Patron Saint of Astros County, came in to pinch run. Craig Reynolds sac bunted him over the 3B. Denny Walling hit a ball to Cards' 2B Tom Herr, who committed an error allowing Thon to score, so it was ruled an error and an unearned run.

Tony D knows he's right for the job

Tony DeFrancesco says that he fits in with the direction of the club, given his past experience with the A's.

"My background is the A's, and the 'Moneyball' area," he said. "I grew up with that system. I believe in it 100 percent, and it's something I hope we can teach to these young players."

That's a valid point, but DeFrancesco is operating under the assumption that the Astros are actually going to follow Billy Beane's A's as an example. It certainly looks like they're drafting and targeting high-OBP guys, but this season has been about stripping the Astros down to the bare minimum. Luhnow has had - by early returns - a solid start to his tenure through trades and the draft. But we don't know exactly how he's going to rebuild the team. Who knows, the Astros may turn into drunken sailors and sign all the players (doubtful). It's clear that the Astros are rebuilding from the ground up, but whether they're following another blueprint (A's, Rays), or designing it on their own, is still unknown - to us, anyway.

Front Office continues to shake

It was announced last night that the Astros will not be renewing the contract of Assistant GM David Gottfried.

Gottfried had been with the Astros - in a variety of capacities - for 14 years, and was the interim GM for the transition from Ed Wade to Jeff Luhnow.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G142 - Astros v. Cubs


Justin Germano (2-6, 6.16) vs Jordan Lyles (3-11, 5.55)

Back to .500 in September! Houston's offense tonight scratched out even less than last night, but this time, their pitching and defense were up to the task. Jordan Lyles and a cavalcade of relievers held the Cubs in check all night long, Justin Maxwell starred on both sides of the ball, and the Astros came away triumphant with a 1-0 win. It was their fifth win in September (tying their total for all of August), putting them at 5-5 this month and 45-97 on the season.

*Jordan's 94 pitches ended his night after five innings, but he turned in a sterling performance for the time that he was on the mound. Lyles' line: 5 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K. Xavier Cedeno was shaky, giving up two hits while recording only one out, but Mickey Storey (and Justin Maxwell) bailed him out of the inning. Wesley Wright, Jose Valdez, and Wilton Lopez turned in a scoreless inning each thereafter, and Lopez earned his fourth save.

Observations:

*Not much to report offensively for Houston - three singles and a double, plus three walks and a sac fly. Contrasted against 12 strikeouts, it could have looked a lot uglier if the pitching staff hadn't picked them up.

*Justin Maxwell was the star again, going 1 for 2 with a walk, a stolen base, and a RBI on a sac fly. He also contributed a huge outfield assist in the 6th to keep Chicago off the board.

*Jimmy Paredes scored the run after singling and advancing to third on a later throwing error. He finished 1 for 4 with a stolen base and two strikeouts.

*Fernando Martinez had the only Astro extra-base hit, doubling to go 1 for 3.

*Scott Moore had the only other Houston hit, singling as a pinch hitter for Lyles in the 5th.

*Carlos Corporan had the least impressive of many unspectacular nights at the plate, going 0 for 4 with three Ks and leaving seven runners on base in his ABs.

Turning Point:

Lyles handed off the 1-0 lead to Xavier Cedeno in the 6th, but Starlin Castro greeted him with a single. After a strikeout of Steve Clevenger, Dave Sappelt added a double to give the Cubs two runners in scoring position with only one out. Mickey Storey took over for Cedeno and got Darwin Barney to fly out to center on his second pitch, but the ball was plenty deep enough to score Castro from third. Justin Maxwell made a very heads up play, however, and fired to third to catch Sappelt trying to move up. The out was recorded at third before Castro crossed the plate, so the shutout (and the win) were preserved.

Man of the Match:

Huge honorable mention to Jordan Lyles, but I've gotta go with Justin Maxwell. Subtract either his RBI or his run-saving throw and all the great pitching is wasted.

Goat of the Game:

Good guys win!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jon Heyman's managerial shortlist

Take this for what it's worth, but CBS Sports has a link to this possible managerial list, by Troller-in-Chief Jon Heyman.

Here's the list which, the post is quick to point out, Jeff Luhnow "didn't deride" (part of me loves this because it sounds like Luhnow has derided Heyman before):

Jim Riggleman, Sandy Alomar Jr., Joey Cora, Chris Maloney, Jose Oquendo, Mike Maddux, Tim Bogar, Joe McEwing and Joe Pettini.

Pettini is, of course, with the Astros now; Bogar interviewed last time around; Oquendo is with the Cardinals.

Since this is our blog, we humbly submit two other possibilities: Brad Ausmus, and Houston resident Bo Porter - whom we championed back in 2009. Smilin' Ken Rosenthal mentioned Porter as a possibility at the end of 2011 when it wasn't clear if the Astros would bring back Mills for 2012. We haven't seen Porter's name floating around anywhere, but he's been the 3B coach for the Nationals, after coaching with the Marlins.

Astros release Francisco Cordero

Perhaps you already saw this, but the Astros released "closer" (snicker) Francisco Cordero.

The 37-year old pitcher was 0-3 for Houston, with a 19.80 ERA - having allowed 13H/11ER, 5K:4BB, 2HR, HBP in 5IP. In his mercifully brief stint with Houston, Cordero faced 32 batters, and got 15 of them out.

That said, if Musgrove and Wojciechowski pan out, it will have been totally worth it.

OKC, Houston extend PDC

The Astros and the Oklahoma City RedHawks have extended their PDC through the 2014 season, MiLB announced today.

This leaves Lancaster and Lexington as the two teams with contracts up at the end of the season. The parent club and affiliate have two weeks from the end of the MiLB season to determine whether or not they will renew.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G141 - Astros v. Cubs


Chris Volstad (2-10, 6.23) vs Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.54)

In a battle of sub-.400 win percentage titans, someone had to come out on bottom. After a weekend in which they beat two pitchers (Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto) with a combined 9.1 WAR, the Astros fell to a pitcher (Chris Volstad) with a -1.2 WAR, who didn't win a game all season until August 26. It took nearly four hours, but eventually Houston finished losing the game by a 4-1 score. The Astros drop to 44-97 on the season.

*Dallas Keuchel returned from a brief vacation in OKC and didn't do poorly, but he ran up his pitch count to 82 after only four innings, so Tony DeFrancesco pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the 4th. Kid Keuchy exited with this line: 4 IP / 6 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 1 K. Chuckie Fick escaped trouble for a scoreless 5th, but Fernando Rodriguez was less lucky (read: he was bad) in giving up a run in 0.2. Xavier Cedeno struck out the only batter he faced, but then Hector Ambriz gave up two more runs in the 7th before notching a scoreless 8th. Rhiner Cruz struck out two and surrendered only a single in the 9th.

Observations:

*The Astros couldn't capitalize on seven walks from the Chicago pitching staff, including five from Volstad in five innings. As a team, Houston left 11 runners on base and managed only a meager 1 for 12 with RISP.

*All of Houston's six hits came from the first five spots in the order, but Brett Wallace went 0 for 4 with a walk and two strikeouts batting third, leaving four LOBsters stranded.

*Justin Maxwell tripled and scored the Astros' only run, finishing 2 for 4 with two strikeouts.

*Jason Castro had the RBI single, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a K.

*Fernando Martinez stayed hot, going 2 for 4 with a walk.

*Jimmy Paredes also tripled, and finished 1 for 5 with a K.

Turning Point:

The score was deadlocked 1-1 after five, when Tony D turned to Fernando Rodriguez. The inning immediately began to go poorly, as F-Rod hit Josh Vitters with his third pitch. A fielder's choice swapped Dave Sappelt for Josh Vitters at first, then Brian LaHair went down swinging for out #2, but a Joe Mather single moved Sappelt over to third. F-Rod's third pitch to Darwin Barney went wild then, allowing Sappelt to score with the go-ahead and ultimate winning run.

Man of the Match:

Justin Maxwell. He's now got himself a four-game hitting streak, going 5 for 13 (.385) over that span.

Goat of the Game:

Fernando Rodriguez scored his 10th loss (as a reliever), but this one was really on the offense. We'll go with Brett Wallace, because everyone around him hit, but last night, he didn't.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Luhnow: Clemens doesn't figure in rotation plans in 2012

Jeff Luhnow told Brian McTaggart that the Astros rotation is planned out through the end of 2012, and does not include Roger Clemens. So everyone can come back in off the ledge...

Astros Season-Ticket Holders get first crack at McCartney tickets

So Paul McCartney is coming to Minute Maid Park on November 14. Astros Season-Ticket Holders get first crack at tickets with a pre-sale from noon Tuesday until 2am Thursday.

But you Season Ticket Holders already know that.

What may be the quote of the year is in the linked article, and comes from Ken Hoffman:
"When McCartney appears at Minute Maid Park, he'll have more career hits than anybody on the Astros."

Astros set roster for Instructional League

Brian McTaggart has your list of prospects invited to the Instructional League (or, "Instructs" as people seem to enjoy shortening it).

Report date is September 18, with the first workout the following day, and games running from September 24 to October 10.

Prospect ages run from 17 (Correa) to 23 (Dayan Diaz and Drew Muren).

Interviews ramping up for manager

The Astros have a short list of 6-8 candidates that they are going to be interviewing for the managerial position, and those interviews will take place this week.

Craig Biggio is helping the Astros in the interview process, according to Brian McTaggart.

While you were drinking

Here's what you may have missed while you cheated on the Astros with your slutty mistress, "Football."

*Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. hosted an invitation-only event for Cardinals bloggers yesterday, and some Astros-related topics were brought up:
DeWitt said the Cardinals, unlike the Astros, likely would have rejected $50 million to $60 million to move to the American League in 2013, partly because “I hate the designated hitter rule. My dad does, too.”

*Astros SP/Revelation Edgar Gonzalez left yesterday's start early - for precautionary reasons - with a blister on his right foot. In two starts for the Astros, the 29-year old Gonzalez has allowed 7H/2ER, 11K:2BB, with a 1.74 ERA/0.87 WHIP. Even more impressive is his 11K (in 10.1IP) and only 2BB. We'll have more this week about where the heck this guy came from.

*Jed Lowrie is getting more rehab time in Lancaster. Also, there are no changes on the status of Jose Altuve (ab strain), Scott Moore (groin) or Brandon Laird (flu).

*Roger Clemens isn't ruling out a return in 2013.

*The JetHawks got the crap kicked out of them, 16-3, in Game 2 of the South Division Finals at High Desert. That series is tied 1-1. Brad Dydalewicz allowed 6ER in 2.2IP.

*Tri-City lost Game 2 of their playoff series against Auburn 5-2. The deciding Game 3 will be at Tri-City tonight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G140 - Astros @ Reds


Edgar Gonzalez (1-0, 1.69) vs Johnny Cueto (17-7, 2.58)

Doth mine eyes deceive me? For the first time since June, the Astros won a road series. For the first time all season, they finished .500 on a road trip. Matt Dominguez hit his second three-run homer of the series, Edgar Gonzalez turned in his second solid start in as many tries, and Houston reversed last night's 5-1 score to take two of three from the first-place Reds. The Astros pull back to .500 in September (4-4), and are now 44-96 overall.

*Edgar Gonzalez was even better this afternoon than in his first start, allowing only two hits over five innings before he left the game as a precaution due to a foot issue. His line: 5 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 6 K. The bullpen did a fine job thereafter as well, with Wesley Wright (1 IP), Mickey Storey (2 IP), and Wilton Lopez (1 IP) combining for 8 K across four scoreless frames.

Observations:

*Today's 12 hits were Houston's most since they had 14 in beating the Cubs 10-1 at Wrigley back on August 14. Every Astro starter except Jordan Schafer and the pitcher reached base at least once.

*Matt Dominguez led the way, as noted, with his second three-run blast in three games, finishing 1 for 4. Brett Dolan noted that this was Matty D's third HR in 38 AB with Houston since the Carlos Lee trade. Ol' El Caballo has three HR in 208 AB with Miami over the same stretch.

*Tyler Greene also launched another big fly, going 2 for 4 with a solo home run in the 6th. He's now got six homers in 93 AB with Houston.

*Jimmy Paredes had much better results in his second start at second base, going 2 for 5 with a run scored and a strikeout today.

*Brett Wallace likewise went 2 for 5 with a run and a K.

*Fernando Martinez went 0 for 2, but he also had a walk and a sac fly to add a run scored and a RBI.

*Carlos Corporan went 2 for 4 with a strikeout.

*Justin Maxwell and Brandon Barnes both had pinch-hits for Houston.

*Jordan Schafer got his first start since August 6, and he Schafered it, going 0 for 3 with 3 K.

*Brian Bogusevic (1 for 5) also struck out three times, but he added a single for the Astros' 12th hit.

Turning Point:

Houston scored in the first inning in all three games this series, but they took control of this one with two outs in the third. NL pitching WAR leader Johnny Cueto got Jimmy Paredes to ground out and Brian Bogusevic to strikeout starting the inning, but Brett Wallace singled and Fernando Martinez walked to put two runners on. Matt Dominguez then took Cueto's 1-0 changeup way deep to left field to give the Astros all the runs they would need.

Man of the Match:

Edgar Gonzalez. Hopefully his foot issue isn't serious, because he's been superb for Houston so far - now 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA.

Goat of the Game:

Astros win! No goat.