Saturday, September 22, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G152 - Astros v. Pirates

Kevin Correia (11-9, 4.09) vs Dallas Keuchel (2-7, 4.97)

It's college football season. I live in Arkansas, so that means that virtually everyone around me is obsessed with the Razorbacks. If you pay attention to college football at all (I don't), then you know the Hogs, who started the season ranked #10, aren't doing very well this year. But if they were paying attention (they're not), Arkansas fans could take some solace in the performance of Diamond Hogs alum Dallas Keuchel tonight. Kid Keuchy and the Astros triumph 4-1 over the Pirates, moving back to .500 since September 1 (10-10), and to 50-102 overall.

*Keuchel was on point all night, delivering his second-best start of the season and earning his second straight win. The only run he allowed was on a solo HR to Gaby Sanchez in the 2nd, so his winning line was this: 7 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K. The bullpen was equally impressive tonight, with Hector Ambriz contributing a scoreless 8th, and Wilton Lopez adding a perfect 9th for his seventh save.


*Jason Castro wielded the big stick for Houston tonight, launching a three-run homer off Carlos Kevin Correia in the 7th that was the deciding blow. He finished 2 for 3 with a K.

*Brett Wallace got the Astros on the board early with a RBI single in the 1st. He ended up 1 for 4 with a K.

*Scott Moore doubled in advance of Wallace and scored the run, finishing 1 for 3 with 2 K.

*Matt Dominguez (1 for 4, K) and Tyler Greene (1 for 1, SB) also scored on Castro's big blow, though neither actually got their hits in the 7th. Dominguez reached on an error and Greene pinch-ran for Jed Lowrie...

*...after Lowrie singled, going 1 for 3 with a K.

Turning Point:

Houston scored in the 1st and Pittsburgh scored in the 2nd, and that's how the game stayed until the bottom of the 7th. Jed Lowrie led off the inning with a single, followed by a textbook double-play ball from Matt Dominguez to the slick fielding Clint Barmes. But Barmes booted it, so everyone was safe, putting two on with no out for Jason Castro. Castro the Astro made ex-Astro Barmes pay for his mistake, as he blasted Carlos Kevin Correia's 2-1 pitch into the right field well for a 4-1 Houston lead. That chased Correia from the game and tagged him with the loss.

Man of the Match:

Dallas Keuchel. Mad props to Jason Castro as well, but Kid Keuchy was brilliant tonight.

Goat of the Game:

With tonight's win, the Astros in September tied their win total from all of June (10), beat their win total from April (9), and trail only their 13 wins in May for their best month all season. With 7 games left in the month and 10 in the season, that's a very reachable goal.

Friday, September 21, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G151 - Astros v. Pirates

Jeff Locke (0-1, 5.49) vs Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 4.40)

If it hadn't been such an awful season for the Astros, almost I would feel bad for the Pirates. They were in first place in the NL Central as late as July 18, and stayed in second through August 21, but they came to town a game under .500 and in very real danger of making this their 20th consecutive losing season. However, I'd still rather see the Astros win, no matter the opponent. It's a happy night for Houston fans, as they down Pittsburgh 7-1 and move to 49-102 overall.

*Edgar Gonzalez had a short night, but not due to ineffectiveness; he left in the 2nd with a right hamstring strain. Before that point, he put up a 1.2 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 1 K line. Fernando Rodriguez came in and came up big, adding a 3.1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 4 K line, which would earn him the win. Jose Valdez (0.1 IP) and Xavier Cedeno (0.2 IP) combined on a scoreless 6th, Mickey Storey struck out the side in order in the 7th, and Wilton Lopez closed it out with a scoreless 9th. Only Rhiner Cruz let the Pirates to get on the board, surrendering a solo homer to Garrett Jones in the 8th.


*After an afternoon of missed opportunities yesterday, Houston did a much better job of capitalizing on their chances tonight. They scored 7 runs on just 6 hits, aided by 7 walks and a trio of homers. It was Houston's first 3 HR game since August 14 at Wrigley.

*Jed Lowrie had the biggest blow, launching a 3-run HR to the Crawford Boxes in the 1st - his 15th of the year and his first since June 26, before his injury. He finished 1 for 3 with 3 RBI, 2 R, a HBP, and a K.

*Not to be outdone, Justin Maxwell stroked a solo shot of his own into the Crawford Boxes in the 6th, extending his team-leading total to 17. He ended up 1 for 2 with 2 R and 2 BB on the night.

*Brett Wallace struck twice, with a RBI triple in the 6th and a solo blast in the 7th, to go 2 for 4 with two runs scored.

*Jose Altuve doubled and went 1 for 4 with a HBP, a RBI, a SB (32), and a K, to go with a great diving stop in Pittsburgh's half of the 6th that likely saved at least one run.

*Brandon Barnes had the other hit and went 1 for 3 with a run scored, two walks, and two strikeouts.

Turning Point:

Jed Lowrie gave Houston all the runs they would need in the 1st, but before they broke it open, Pittsburgh threatened in the 6th. Jose Valdez started the inning with a single to Starling Marte. Clint Barmes was next and grounded hard up the middle, but Jose Altuve made a highlight-reel diving stop, then flipped the ball over his back to Lowrie for the force at second. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single that moved Barmes to second and brought Xavier Cedeno into the game. Cedeno got Garrett Jones to fly to center for the second out, then walked Gaby Sanchez to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez - he of 29 HR - was up next, but Cedeno got the huge strikeout to keep the game in Houston's favor.

Man of the Match:

Jed Lowrie! Great to see his power stroke on display again. Honorable mentions to Brett Wallace and Fernando Rodriguez.

Goat of the Game:

A win tomorrow will get the Astros back to .500 in September. Let's finish strong.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G150 - Astros @ Cardinals

Bud Norris (5-12, 4.93) vs Jaime Garcia (4-7, 4.24)

Sayonara, St. Louis. Maybe the Astros could tip their caps to the Cardinals for well-pitched games the last two nights, but today, they have only themselves to blame. On three separate occasions, the Astros loaded the bases with only one out, but in the subsequent at bats, they never got a hit and only managed to score once, on a bases-loaded walk. It was an afternoon full of missed opportunities, and the result is that Houston bids farewell to the site of their only National League championship with a frustrating 5-4 loss. They're swept for the season in St. Louis and are now 48-102 in 2012.

*For 5.1 innings, the only runs that Cardinal killer BudChuck Norris had allowed came on one big swing by Allen Craig with two on in the 1st. But he walked the final two batters he faced, then Wesley Wright let them score on a Carlos Beltran double, leaving Bud with this line: 5.1 IP / 6 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 5 BB / 7 K. After the double, Wright got the next two hitters, then Hector Ambriz (1 IP), Jose Valdez (0.2 IP), and Xavier Cedeno (0.1 IP) combined for two scoreless innings to keep the Astros in the game.


*Collectively, the Astros were 3 for 14 with RISP and left 11 LOBsters stranded. That number would have been even higher were it not for grounding into two key double plays.

*Brandon Laird only had two official ABs, but he led the offense anyway in odd fashion. He went 1 for 2 with a walk and two RBIs - one on the bases-loaded walk referenced above, and the other on a single up the middle that was headed into a glove before it hit the second base bag and took a sharp left into left field.

*Brandon Barnes did well, as well, going 2 for 4 with a K, a double, a run scored, a RBI, and a spectacular diving catch in center field that ought to end up on SportsCenter.

*Justin Maxwell had a RBI double in the 3rd and finished 1 for 3 with a run scored, two walks, and two strikeouts.

*Matt Dominguez went 3 for 5 and is now on a six-game hitting streak.

*Jose Altuve went 2 for 5 with a run scored, a strikeout, and a caught stealing.

*Scott Moore had Houston's 10th hit in his only at bat and scored a run.

*Every Astro hitting 1-7 left at least one runner on, except for Laird, but J.D. Martinez was worst of all. He went 0 for 4 with 2 K and 7 LOB.

Turning Point:

After St. Louis took a 5-3 lead in the 6th, Houston answered with a run in the top of the 7th, so they went to the 8th down 5-4. Brian Bogusevic led off with a walk, followed by a sac bunt from Carlos Corporan, then walks to Jed Lowrie and Matt Downs loaded the bases. Jose Altuve and Brett Wallace came next, but both struck out against Fernando Salas to let St. Louis escape with the win.

Man of the Match:

Brandon Laird again, for his bizarro two-RBI day.

Goat of the Game:

Every Astro hitter who didn't hit with runners on. Which was pretty much everyone except for Laird.

From the Office of the County Clerk: G149 - Astros @ Cardinals

Lucas Harrell (10-9, 3.86) vs Lance Lynn (15-7, 3.95)

In their just-completed four game series against Philadelphia, the Astros averaged six runs and nine hits per game against a still-impressive Phillies pitching staff. That backdrop only serves to underscore how well the Cardinals have pitched this series. After Kyle Lohse held Houston to no runs and four hits over seven innings last night, Lance Lynn said, "Me too!" The Astros managed only three hits before the 9th inning tonight, and they fall to St. Louis, 5-0. The team is now 48-101 on the season.

*Lucas Harrell was one out away from a quality start for the second start in a row, but his overall numbers were better tonight than his last time out. Unfortunately two of the five hits he surrendered were home runs, so he finished with this line: 5.2 IP / 5 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 7 K. Hector Ambriz retired all four batters he faced, striking out three, but Mickey Storey allowed singles to all three of his hitters, leaving with none out, one in, and two on in the 8th for Chuckie Fick. Fick got Houston out of the inning, but not before a second of Storey's runners scored on a sac fly.


*Only three hits for Houston tonight against Lance Lynn, in 6.2 IP. They added two more in the 9th off Joe Kelly, but Jason Motte came in and shut down the rally threat.

*Brandon Laird got the start at third and had his best game as an Astro so far, going 2 for 4 with a double and a K.

*Jose Altuve also doubled, in the game's first at bat, and finished 1 for 4 with a K.

*Brett Wallace hit safely for the fourth straight game, going 1 for 4 with a K.

*Jed Lowrie did Wallace one better and has now hit safely in five straight, ending up 1 for 4.

*Justin Maxwell was the most offensive of the non-contributors on offense, going 0 for 4 with 3 Ks, but he did have another great diving catch in center to rob Skip Schumaker in the 8th.

Turning Point:

The Astros never even got a runner as far as third base until the 9th inning, by which time they were already down 5-0, so this one was over early. After striking out the side in the 1st, Lucas Harrell allowed a leadoff single to Allen Craig in the 2nd. Yadier Molina flew out to left, but David Freese then followed with a two-run shot to center field, which put the Cardinals in front for good.

Man of the Match:

Brandon Laird, for his first multi-hit performance with Houston.

Goat of the Game:

Mickey Storey probably had the worst night of any Astro individually, but the offense was collectively woebegone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quickest to 100 losses?

So the Astros lost their 100th game last night, which was not surprising. They lost said game in the 148th game of the season. How does that stack up to when other teams of the 21st century lost their 100th game?

2003 Tigers (119 losses): Game 134
2004 D'Backs (111 losses): Game 143
2012 Astros (TBD): Game 148
2002 Rays (106 losses): Game 148

2011 Astros (106 losses): Game 151
2005 Royals (106 losses): Game 152
2009 Nationals (103 losses): Game 152
2010 Pirates (105 losses): Game 153
2002 Tigers (106 losses): Game 154
2002 Brewers (106 losses): Game 154
2004 Royals (104 losses): Game 157
2008 Mariners (101 losses): Game 158
2008 Nationals (102 losses): Game 159
2006 Royals (100 losses): Game 159
2006 Rays (101 losses): Game 161
2010 Mariners (101 losses): Game 161
2001 Pirates (101 losses): Game 161
2002 Royals (100 losses): Game 162
2001 Rays (100 losses): Game 162 

So only three other teams in the last 12 seasons have lost 100 games quicker than the Astros. That said, it's not mathematically possible for the 2012 Astros to catch the 2003 Tigers; they'd have to go 3-11 to finish worse than the 2004 D'Backs, and 6-8 to finish with the same record as the 2002 Rays.

Luhnow eyeing Midwest League

With the Astros needing a Low-A affiliate after Lexington wanted to go in a different direction (thanks for nothing, Yoko), Jeff Luhnow is eyeing the Midwest League as a destination.

Quad Cities (based in Davenport, Iowa) are a possibility, as the Cardinals were affiliated with Quad Cities during Luhnow's time there.

Cedar Rapids (also Iowa, not Michigan, as we ignorantly said last week) was a possibility, but the Twins just signed a PDC with the franchise.

Quad Cities set a franchise attendance record in 2012, with 240,008 fans coming to Modern Woodmen Park. And there's the added historical footnote of Quad Cities' affiliation with the Astros from 1993-1998. The 1994 River Bandits featured Richard Hidalgo, Chris Truby, Billy Wagner, Chris Holt, John Halama, and Scott Elarton. They were 57-81.

Bogar's interview to take place in Tampa

So Tim Bogar will interview to become the next Astros manager today, and the Providence Journal says it will be in the Tampa area, where the Red Sox are playing the Rays.

Bobby Valentine:
“That’s what he wanted during the winter; that’s what his dream was, to get the exposure with us so he could get noticed by other teams. I hope it works well for him.”

In other managerial news, the timing of the decision has been cleared up. While the Astros are hoping to pick a manager by the end of next week, Jim Crane says they won't announce the decision until after the season is over.

Crane also said that there have been six interviews (Porter, DeFrancesco, Martinez, Bowa, Bogar, and one Unknown candidate) with two more scheduled.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G148 - Astros @ Cardinals

Fernando Abad (0-4, 5.08) vs Kyle Lohse (14-3, 2.81)

You can only avoid the inevitable for so long. The Astros entered September with 92 losses, and based on the preceding two months, it seemed likely they would hit the century mark about 10 days later. Turns out it took until September 18, but 100 losses finally happened. Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals win 4-1, putting Houston back at .500 in September (8-8) and now 48-100 on the season.

*Of Fernando Abad's five starts so far, this one was better than most, but still not good enough to avoid his fifth straight loss. Abad's line: 5 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 6 K. Fernando Rodriguez pitched a scoreless 6th, then left for Xavier Cedeno with a runner on first and one out in the 7th, but Cedeno let the run score before finishing out the inning. Jose Valdez allowed a walk and a single in a scoreless 8th.


*The Astros offense mustered very little against Kyle Lohse over his seven innings - no runs on four hits - and the team was a collective 1 for 11 with RISP for the game.

*Brett Wallace had the lone run-scoring hit (after Lohse left), going 1 for 4 with a RBI single.

*Scott Moore was the only Astro to reach base more than once tonight, going 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

*Matt Dominguez had the only other extra-base hit, finishing 1 for 4 with a double.

*Jimmy Paredes pinch hit, singled, and scored in the 8th.

*Justin Maxwell's 10-game hitting streak came to an end, as he finished tonight 0 for 3 with a walk, two strikeouts, and a caught stealing.

*Jose Altuve (1 for 4), Jed Lowrie (1 for 4), and J.D. Martinez (1 for 4, 2 K) had the other three Houston hits.

Turning Point:

The Astros were down 4-0 and had hardly even threatened when Kyle Lohse finally left the game at the start of the 8th, but they immediately began to take advantage of the pitching change. Jimmy Paredes and Jose Altuve started the inning with back-to-back singles; Scott Moore flew out to center, but Brett Wallace followed next with a RBI single to left. Justin Maxwell came up representing the tying run with one out, but Mitchell Boggs got him to strike out swinging on a full count. Jed Lowrie then flied to right to end Houston's final threat.

Man of the Match:

Brett Wallace, for at least breaking up the shutout.

Goat of the Game:

Fernando Abad. But it was going to take an All-Star effort to beat Lohse tonight.

"Unknown candidate" interviewed

In David Barron's good piece for the Chronicle, we learn the following things:

*Larry Bowa thinks the Astros are 3-4 years away from being good. ("All their young players, I mean, real good players are 2-3 years away," he said.)
*An unknown candidate interviewed Monday (yesterday).
*The Astros haven't asked to interview anyone on the Cardinals' staff.

Manager to be decided by next week

So it's being reported that Jim Crane would like to have a manager in place by the end of next week.

This is odd, mainly because, you know, the season is still going on at the end of next week. So the Astros are either going to:

1) Hire Tony DeFrancesco, Joe Pettini, or someone within the organization
2) Hire someone who is currently not with a team (Ausmus?), or at least not with a contender (ruling out Porter, Martinez, Bogar, Hale)
3) Hire someone who is with a contender, but who won't take over until after their season is over.

#3 isn't an unreasonable option, but the timing is certainly strange.

The beginning of the end with the Cardinals

To commemorate the final stretch of games with the St. Louis Cardinals, we asked long-time friend of Astros County C70 At the Bat some questions (The Constable answered C70's questions over here):

AC: As you likely know, the Astros took three of four from the Phillies (!) over the weekend. Let's let that sink in for a second... Okay, does that change your outlook on this series?

C70: I don't know that it does, but my outlook on this series might not be what you expect it to be.  Obviously, I'm more comfortable with the Cards spending the next 10 days playing the Astros and the Cubs than the Dodgers or Reds, but this has been such an inconsistent team that it's hard to get too high on a series that, on paper, should be a huge mismatch.  Because if this season had been played out on paper, the Cards would have won a whole lot more games.

Having Houston playing well does temper some expectations, of course.  I'd rather be facing the team that lost 34 of 38 than the team that has more September wins that St. Louis does.

AC: What the heck is it with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's obsession with Jeff Luhnow (and what seems like a party line of "He wasn't that great")?

C70: You have to know that Jeff Luhnow was a very polarizing figure.  When he was brought on board, he brought the sabermetric mentality with him, as you are seeing in Houston now.  The problem was, not everyone in the front office was ready for that.  There was a pretty obvious rift that developed between the "new school" set and the "old school" set.  This culminated back in 2007 when Walt Jocketty was let go and John Mozeliak was hired to be the general manager.  Mozeliak's mission was to reconcile the stats and the scouting side of things (and, from all appearances, has done a good job).

Anytime that you are such a visible part in a change to a civic institution, you are going to get a lot of focus on you.  I expect that there will be some monitoring of Luhnow for a while, just like there has been of Pujols this season.  It'll lessen as time goes on, but it'll never quite go away.  When you "discover" someone that has success elsewhere, it's natural to keep an eye out.

Now, as for the latter part of your question, I don't know much about that unless it plays back into that rift he was part of.  Most internet observers seem to be fairly fond of him.  Could be some "cushioning the blow," could be some acknowledgement that no man is an island--but I know Luhnow took a few important palm trees (or rocks or whatever works to extend the analogy) with him to Houston also.
AC: Piggy-backing on that, how do you feel about Luhnow?

C70: I think he turned things around in regards to the minor leagues and helped bring a new mindset to the drafting process.  His support may have unintentionally poisoned the well for Colby Rasmus (who was often termed "Luhnow's boy" within the organization, if reports are right) but there's no denying that the Cards have more high-talent prospects in their system than ever before.  I think he'll do a fine job in Houston and wish him well.
AC: Y'all have almost $90m in payroll already committed to 2013. What does the future of the Cardinals look like for the next five years?

C70: The future is, at least to these biased eyes, very bright.  There is a lot of payroll committed, but it's not to dead weight (or at least, not much).  You have Chris Carpenter, who hopefully will be at least close to his ace-like self after a year off next year, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Beltran (that one may hurt, but it's just one more year) make up the bulk of the big money going forward and all should be good for 2013 (again, save possibly Beltran).  The expectation is Wainwright will sign an extension this season and be here for the long haul.

After 2013, the holes that get created are likely to be filled from within.  Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn--all of these could be in the rotation by 2014.  Second base has a Kolten Wong-sized hole waiting to be filled.  Oscar Tavares is going to be ranked in the top 10 of most every prospect list this offseason and should see St. Louis by next September.  There is going to be a lot of cheap young talent coming through to help offset the expensive contracts elsewhere.  Right now, the window for championship runs seems as wide open as it's ever been.
AC: Can the Cardinals (a) make the playoffs and then (b) beat the Braves in a one-game playoff?

C70: This Cardinal team can win the World Series.  This Cardinal team can also completely miss the playoffs.  As frustrating as they've been, they've got the pieces to beat just about anyone when they come together.  The problem is, especially with the one-game playoff, they don't always show up.  I could easily see the Cards losing a 1-0, 2-1 game to Atlanta after leaving 10 men on and having at least two ill-conceived bunts.  If Carpenter gives them some focus and everything finally comes together, though, 12 in '12 is not out of the question.  
AC: Speaking of, since StL is in the mix, how do you feel about the 1-game playoff?

C70: If you are going to do a second wild-card, this may be the best way to do it.  I'm not a fan of the second wild card--I am not really a fan of the regular wild card either--but hindering them somewhat going into a playoff series should help the "best team" win more than just the hot pitcher.  I think it'd be better just to make four divisions and let the winners get into October.  Plenty of pennant races and you'd actually have to win something.

AC: What was your favorite Astros/Cards game?

C70: So many good ones to choose from, but I think it has to be Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS.  The catch by Edmonds, the home run by Rolen, beating Roger Clemens....those are things that are hard to top.  
AC: As a team lucky enough to stay in the National League, what are your thoughts on what happened to the Astros, in regards to the move to the AL?

C70: I think it was an incredibly stupid thing to have even considered, much less gone through with.  The idea of interleague play, which was never one of my favorite ideas, going on every single day is a terrible one in my book.  Plus the whole idea of a deal being held up so that a perfectly legitimate owner could be blackmailed into moving a team with 50 years of history?  Move the Brewers back if you have to move someone--they've played both sides of the fence.  It was a shameful episode in a history of baseball rife with shameful episodes. 
We'll be back in touch with C70 for a last hurrah next week.

Astros and Bowa both agree to not be involved with each other

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Astros and Bowa have agreed that he will not be the next manager of the Astros.

Bowa said that the rebuild will take some time, and someone younger is needed, adding later in Rosenthal's piece that the search is going to take some time.

Astros interested in DeMarlo Hale

Via the Boston Globe, the Astros are interested in Orioles' 3B coach (and former Red Sox bench coach) DeMarlo Hale.

Baseball America on the Astros' dramatic minor-league turnaround

Baseball America has a nice chart up showing just what a dramatic turnaround the Astros' farm system undertook this season.

In short, among teams based in the United States, the PreStros were a cumulative 70 games over .500, 13 better than the 2nd-place Rockies. This is nuts, because in 2011, the Astros were a cumulative 138 games under .500 - a turnaround of 208 games.

Future divisional opponents finished 2012 as such:
Mariners: +43 (4th)
Rangers: +24 (9th)
Athletics: -5 (21st)
Angels: -71 (30th)

Larry Bowa is fluent in gibberish

If the Astros are looking for a manager who puts a lot of words together without saying anything (which is what Derek Jeter has done for years), they might have found their guy in Larry Bowa:

"You know, we are very flexible. We watch a lot of stuff.' And, like I said, I take all those numbers and look at them, and there's some that you just, you know, you use, and it's very beneficial to you. And there's others ... You can't measure a guy's heart...

When you go out to the mound to make a pitching change and you look into a guy's eyes, that tells you a lot, as opposed to, sometimes, numbers. But they have a very good front office in line right now. I do think that team's going to be pretty good in about three or four years."

Tim Bogar to interview Wednesday

So it's been confirmed that Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar will interview for Astros manager tomorrow (again - he interviewed for the position before Mills was hired), which is interesting since the Red Sox are in Tampa playing the Rays.

He joins a list of Bo Porter, Larry Bowa, Dave Martinez, and Tony DeFrancesco to officially interview for the position.

In this WEEI piece, Joe Maddon talked about Tim Bogar (who was on the Rays' staff prior to joining the Red Sox):
"He communicates well. Primarily, with me, the job requires the ability to unify a group or communicate, or develop trust, or however you want to put it. Those are the key ingredients as far as coming on as a first-time manager in a situation like that in Houston, which is very similar to what we went through here in Tampa Bay several years ago." 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Astros apologize for inviting you to have lunch with a deceased baseball player

Hey - so the Astros have apologized for inviting you to lunch with Joe Niekro, who passed away in 2006.

2012 Houston Astros Concession Speech

The Constable wrote the 2012 Astros Concession Speech for Yahoo's Big League Stew. Take yourself five minutes and give it a read.

At the beginning of the season, he wrote the Ten Best Things About Being an Astros Fan. Read that too.

Monday Morning Link Dump

Here's your link dump from the weekend:

*Tony DeFrancesco doesn't respect Ryan Howard, this is Charlie Manuel's complete lack of surprise.

*Fernando Martinez is dealing with right knee inflammation.

*The Astros invited Facebook fans to lunch with Joe Niekro, who died in 2006.

*Marwin Gonzalez just might return from his ankle injury this season.

*Joe Maddon thinks Dave Martinez is a worthy candidate for the Astros.

*Here are the Chronicle's Top 50 Astros of all time.

Tim Bogar on Astros' radar

With a captip to the Crawfish Boxes, we find this story about Tim Bogar's potential candidacy for the Astros' manager.

Also, Larry Bowa confirmed that he interviewed for the position.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G147 - Astros v. Phillies

Roy Halladay (10-7, 4.01) vs Jordan Lyles (4-11, 5.33)

Derrick Goold can officially stop losing sleep over the Astros compromising the integrity of the pennant race. Instead, he can wring his hands over his Cardinals being 2-8 in their last 10 and on the brink of falling out of a playoff spot, and now they have to face the Astros next. Houston rallied late today for a 7-6 victory, taking 3 of 4 from a Phillies team that came into town on a 7-game winning streak and 18-6 since August 18. The Astros are 7-5 against contenders this month, 8-7 overall in September, and if they're gonna lose 100 games, they at least made sure today that #100 didn't come at home - they hit the road to St. Louis at 48-99 in 2012. 

*Jordan Lyles and the 5th inning don't mix well this season. After a three-run 5th today, Clark Goble noted that Lyles' 5th-inning ERA this year is a ghastly 15.83. Jordan did well enough over the preceding four innings, however, to at least keep his team in the game against Roy Halladay, ending his afternoon with a 5 IP / 5 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 4 BB / 6 K line. Hector Ambriz and Wesley Wright pitched a scoreless inning each to get the Astros through the 7th, then Xavier Cedeno struck out Ryan Howard leading off the 8th, but Mickey Storey came on next and immediately ran into trouble. He retired none of the three batters he faced, allowing two runs in the process, but Wilton Lopez came to the rescue for the final 1.2. Wright recorded his second win of the series and the season, and Lopez logged his sixth save.


*Scott Moore was the first of three Astros with a pair of RBIs apiece today, getting his on a two-run homer off Halladay in the 3rd. He finished the day 2 for 3.

*Carlos Corporan also took Halladay way downtown, blasting a solo shot off the facade of the second deck in RF in the 6th, and he finished 1 for 4 with 2 K. This was Carlos' fourth home run in 67 ABs this season, after he had none in 154 ABs last year.

*Justin Maxwell picked a huge spot to push his hitting streak to 10 games, doubling home the tying and go-ahead runs with one out in the 7th. He ended his day 1 for 4 with 2 Ks and a run scored.

*Matt Dominguez also came up big in the 7th with a two-run single, which ultimately resulted in the winning runs. He finished 1 for 4.

*J.D. Martinez didn't factor in the scoring, but he did have himself a nice day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a double, a triple and a K.

*Jimmy Paredes had a nice day as well, going 1 for 3 with two walks, two runs scored, and a spectacular leaping catch to rob Chase Utley of at least a double in RF.

*Jose Altuve went 0 for 5 with a K, but he reached base on a throwing error in the 7th, swiped second for his 31st steal of the season (good for sixth in the league), and came around to score on J-Max's double.

*Brandon Laird also pinch-hit, walked, and scored in the 7th.

Turning Point:

The Astros were down 4-3 when Philadelphia's bullpen took over for Roy Halladay in the bottom of the 7th. Matt Downs pinch-hit leading off and struck out, but Jose Altuve reached next on a throwing error by Phillies 3B Michael Martinez. The Altuve stole second, followed by walks to Jimmy Paredes and Brandon Laird, to load the bases with one out for Justin Maxwell. J-Max dunked Phillippe Aumont's 2-1 pitch just inside the right field foul line for a two-run double, putting Houston up 5-4, then Matt Dominguez followed by bouncing a single into left over a leaping Michael Martinez to drive in two more. The Phillies got two back in the top of the 8th, but Wilton Lopez came in and preserved the 7-6 lead thereafter.

Man of the Match:

Going with Wilton Lopez, but there were plenty of heroes today. Great team win!

Goat of the Game:

The Astros bid farewell to Ed Wade and the Phillies until who knows when, in a fashion that Jeff Luhnow has to feel good about.

Astros and Lexington Legends to part ways

Bummer out of Lexington today, as it appears that the Astros and Legends will end an affiliation that began with the Legends' inception in 2001.

Tomorrow marks two weeks since the end of the Legends season, and with it the window to renegotiate expiring PDCs - but it looks like it's over now.

So what now? The Astros need to find a full-season Low-A team - meaning another team in the South Atlantic League or the Midwest League. Hagerstown and Lexington were the only SAL teams not to announce a renewal. In the Midwest League, it looks as though Peoria (Illinois), Quad Cities (Iowa), and Cedar Rapids (Iowa) are going to be available.