Saturday, September 29, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G158 - Astros @ Brewers

Dallas Keuchel (3-7, 4.66) vs Marco Estrada (4-7, 3.87)

Well, that was fun while it lasted. In a game that was 100% Brewers for the first 8.2 innings, the Astros had some fun of their own against old friend (?) Livan Hernandez with two outs in the 9th. But a 9-0 deficit was too deep of a hole to climb out of, and Houston went down in a 9-5 defeat. The loss puts the Astros at 52-106 in 2012, tying their club record loss total from last season, with four games left to play.

*This was clearly not the way that Dallas Keuchel would have liked to end his rookie season, but the Brewers were also clearly determined to stay alive for another day. Kid Keuchy was lit up for three home runs in less than three innings, including two by Corey Hart, and he ended his very short day with this line: 2.1 IP / 8 H / 7 R / 7 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. Chuckie Fick allowed a run in his 1.2 innings of work, Mickey Storey pitched two innings scoreless, then Enerio Del Rosario followed a perfect 7th by allowing another Milwaukee run in the 8th.


*There would be much less to say about the offense had Livan Hernandez not started tossing BP to Houston hitters in the 9th. The Astros homered off Hernandez three times with two outs, good for five runs before Jose Veras stepped in to record the final out.

*Fernando Martinez had the first of the bombs, driving in himself and Scott Moore on a two-run shot to straightaway center. He finished 1 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts.

*Brian Bogusevic was next, following a Jason Castro single with a two-run blast of his own to deep center, in a pinch hit appearance.

*Tyler Greene continued the fun, taking Livan's 2-1 pitch to the second deck in left field, back-to-back with Bogey's blast. He finished 1 for 4 with a K.

*Scott Moore singled in between the first two outs in the 9th, finishing 2 for 4 with a K and scoring on F-Mart's long ball.

*Jason Castro followed up his two-HR night by going 1 for 4 with a K, scoring on Bogey's homer.

*Brett Wallace likewise went 1 for 4 with a K.

*Brandon Barnes went 1 for 4 with 2 Ks, but his highlight of the night came on a spectacular diving catch to rob Jean Segura of a RBI double in the 3rd, which he then turned into a double play by throwing to second before Carlos Gomez could make it back.

*Houston now has seven home runs in the last two games. That's their most in two games since they also had seven back on May 2-3, 2008 - also against Milwaukee.

Turning Point:

Milwaukee took control of this one early and never let go. Back-to-back homers by Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart led off the 2nd, and a two-run double by Norichika Aoki made it 4-0 later in the inning.  Back-to-back singles followed by Hart's second homer then made it 7-0 before an out was recorded in the 3rd.

Man of the Match:

Fernando Martinez, for breaking up the shutout and starting the home run derby in the 9th.

Goat of the Game:

Dallas Keuchel. A disappointing end to the 2012 season for the young lefty.

September standings

Look, someone has to put a bow on September, what with the Astros going 12-13. How do the Astros stack up in September with the rest of the NL?

San Francisco: 18-7
Atlanta: 17-8
Milwaukee: 17-9
Philadelphia: 15-10
Cincinnati: 14-10
Washington: 15-11
St. Louis: 14-11
Arizona: 13-11
Los Angeles: 12-12
San Diego: 12-12
Houston: 12-13
New York: 11-14
Colorado: 9-18
Miami: 8-17
Chicago: 8-18
Pittsburgh: 6-20

Should we scream and yell and fist-pump and take our ladies out to Sizzler because of 12-13? No, probably not. But considering the Astros won 12 games from June 23-August 31, it's nice to see that there are teams who have fared worse. It's like having herpes, and feeling good because there are five other guys who have crabs.

Current coaching staff all just sort of waiting

Within this McTaggart notebook, you get to read about the current Astros coaching staff all excited about the possibility of coaching under manager Bo Porter.

Bench coach Joe Pettini:
"Yeah, I would [like to stay]. I'm 57 years old and have 11 years as a coach at the big league level and a few as a player, and I'm not quite ready to retire yet. I'd like to do it a few more years."

Pitching coach Doug Brocail:
"I love this job, but we have a lot of work to do. I'd like to see it through. I don't know what their thoughts are. Nobody's talked about it, but if they want to sit down and talk, I'd love to be back."

So, were you Bo Porter, who would you keep and who would you let go? Remember (and I can't find the link right now), there was an indication that the Astros will want coaches with American League experience...

CSN Houston to launch Monday at 5pm

Comcast SportsNet Houston will launch on Monday (October 1) at 5pm Central with SportsTalk Live, hosted by former FSH on-camera guy Kevin Eschenfelder - guests for the inaugural show include Jeff Luhnow, Jeremy Lin, and Matt Schaub.

CSN Houston President/GM Matt Hutchings:
"This region has waited a long time for an in-depth approach to regional sports coverage, focused not only on our pro teams, but also on sports at the college and high school level."

In the Houston area, CSN Houston will be available on Comcast at 39/639 and on EnTouch on 73/473. 

Viewers in Houma, La Place, Monroe, and Shreveport will get it on 86/1688; while Little Rock will get it on 269/1687. If you don't get CSN Houston in your area, you can visit the website to tell your provider to add it to their lineup. 

Deputy Phelps had a chance yesterday afternoon to tour the studio and get bombed with Jerome Solomon:

Friday, September 28, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G157 - Astros @ Brewers

Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 3.94) vs Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59)

The Astros took to the road for their final six games in the National League, with a 16-59 record away from MMP this season. Needing to win at least one of those six to avoid setting a new all-time record for the fewest road wins in a 162-game schedule, they didn't waste any time in taking care of it tonight. Houston beats Milwaukee in a 7-6 thriller, pushing the Brewers to the brink of elimination in the NL wild card race. The Astros are now 52-105 with five games left in 2012.

*Edgar Gonzalez bounced back strong from his hamstring-shortened previous start, limiting the Brewers to just one hit - a Carlos Gomez HR - through the first five innings. He started running into trouble in the 6th, but he still had a shutout through 5.2 until a two-run double by Ryan Braun chased him from the game. Thus, Edgar's line: 5.2 IP / 4 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 3 K. Hector Ambriz added 1.1 scoreless, then Wesley Wright walked Norichika Aoki before getting the next two out. Rhiner Cruz came in to face Aramis Ramirez, but he allowed Aoki to score when Ramirez tripled. That brought in Wilton Lopez, who got the third out in the 8th, before allowing two runs in a more-interesting-than-it-should-have-been 9th. But he finally shut the door, earning Gonzalez his third win in five starts, and earning himself his ninth save in twelve tries.


*Astros go yicketty four times! (Thanks, Chipper.) This tied their mark for most homers in a game this season, set on June 10 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

*Jason Castro was the big man with the bat tonight, blasting two of those four home runs and going 2 for 3 with a walk, two RBIs, and three runs scored. He'd never even had two home runs in a week before, but now he's got three this week and his first multi-HR game.

*Brett Wallace immediately preceded Castro's first bomb in the 5th with a bomb of his own, finishing 2 for 4 with a K, a RBI, and two runs scored.

*Jose Altuve had his second home run in as many games, going deep in the 9th to end his day 2 for 5.

*Fernando Martinez scored Houston's other run, doubling and going 1 for 4.

*Matt Dominguez went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs, plus a flashy diving stop to rob Aramis Ramirez of a double in the 4th.

*Edgar Gonzalez helped his own cause, going 1 for 2 with a RBI bunt single, a walk, and a K.

*Jed Lowrie went 1 for 5 with 2 K.

*Justin Maxwell managed to play all three outfield positions, but he also managed to go 0 for 5 with 4 K.

Turning Point:

When Jose Altuve homered in the top of the 9th, it looked like just an insurance run for the Astros, but that ended up being the deciding blow. Wilton Lopez took a 7-4 lead to the bottom of the 9th, but Jordan Logan Schafer led off with a strikeout single. After a Carlos Gomez fly out, Jean Segura doubled Schafer home to make it 7-5. An error by Matt Dominguez allowed Jonathan Lucroy to reach and Segura to score, shrinking Houston's lead to 7-6 with the tying run on and one out. But Lopez blessedly got Norichika Aoki to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Man of the Match:

Castro the Astro! Huge game for Houston's young catcher.

Goat of the Game:

Milwaukee's elimination number is now the loneliest number - one. An Astros win tomorrow would put Houston back at .500 in September, and would make sure that the ex-AL Brewers join them in an early winter vacation.

The timing of the Bo Porter announcement was not weird at all

There were some raised eyebrows yesterday about the press conference that announced Bo Porter as the 17th manager of the Houston Astros. The eyebrows were raised, or perhaps narrowed, as this introductory press conference did not feature Bo Porter in attendance, and furthermore confirmed that he'll stay with the Nationals until their season is over.

So what were the Astros thinking? Why announce that they've hired Bo Porter now? Why not wait until after the season to have a press conference? Or at least wait until, you know, the manager you're hiring can actually make it to the press conference?

Stop asking those questions. You're living life as a fan of a team with a typical front office. That's not the Astros. This is a team that interviewed Keith Law, hired Mike Fast and Kevin Goldstein. This is a team that has a Director of Decision Sciences, and whose amateur scouting coordinator has a law degree from Pepperdine.

Don't get me wrong - in no way am I trying to imply that this is a bad thing. Ed Wade represented a typical front office. Ed Wade's Big Board was actually a large board that Jeff Luhnow had to throw away because the files are in the computer.

The New Astros don't operate like that. We've talked about this before, on why the Astros fired Brad Mills when they did - late at night after another, ultimately meaningless loss - precisely so (my speculation here) that it would be overshadowed by the Texans pre-season game.

How long is it going to take us all to realize that nothing happens in this organization by accident?

The New Astros cleaned house in the front office - from Bobby Heck to David Gottfried - in August, which is an odd time to start telling people their contract won't be renewed. Add this to why they announced that Bo Porter will be the next manager (a) before the season is over, and (b) before he can actually join the team and it becomes more clear that the Astros aren't sharing a timetable with anyone else.

It was clear by mid-August that the Astros would wrap up the #1 pick in the 2013 draft. So why wouldn't Luhnow let go of that side of the front office, so he could begin preparing for that pick with his people in place?* 

Bo Porter is a highly-regarded up-and-coming manager. If Luhnow & Co. liked him, why not move on him? Clearly the Nationals don't have a problem with the agreement - those details had to be worked out with Washington. It's not as though Luhnow blew his wad and held a press conference that left Bo Porter sitting in Philadelphia watching SportsCenter scrambling to call Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson to say, "Hey, about this...yeah, I've been talking to Houston."

It's clear that Bo Porter was going to get his shot from somebody. Maybe the Marlins, an organization for which Porter previously coached. A handful of teams are going to let go of their managers in the next few weeks. By moving on the announcement and press conference, the Astros have saved themselves weeks of valuable time searching, interviewing, and selecting a manager - all without having to worry about competition from those handful of teams. You only have to read what Davey Johnson, Mike Rizzo, or Nationals fans had to say about Porter to realize that he was going to be somebody's manager - the Astros locked him down before anyone else had a chance to interview him.

And do you think it is a coincidence that they held this press conference on the morning after the last NL home game? It gave Crane and Luhnow a chance to get in front of the media and fans after a significant milestone in the history of the franchise. They didn't alter the narrative in a way that overshadowed that event, but they made themselves available to address the future of the organization, from the manager to the unveiling of new uniforms.

We unfortunate (for now) Astros fans, the laughing-stock of baseball, needed this. We've been thinking about 2013 and beyond since, oh, the All-Star Break. For the final off-day of this irregular, miserable season, I wasn't thinking about 2012. And to be honest, this press conference reinforced to me that the Astros haven't been thinking about 2012, either. The 2012 season was never about 2012.

*Notice the alliteration.

Astros to review each player starting October 4

Astros staff will be meeting on October 4 to go over the performances of each player, in preparation for 2013.

But don't worry! We're going to do it, too! Except we're going to publish it, and we're going to make jokes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Porter press conference highlights

Despite Bo Porter not being physically present (he's in the middle of a dadgum division race - everyone freaking calm down that he didn't make a round trip flight from Philadelphia for a 35 minute press conference), there were a lot of things to note about the press conference:

*Luhnow said that Bo Porter will be a big name in five years, and other teams would be looking to hire managers like Porter.
*Luhnow: A field of 49 candidates was narrowed down to four, but Porter was the only candidate offered the job.
*Once the season is over, Porter will be able to evaluate and assemble his staff.
*Tony DeFrancesco will remain with the organization.
*New uniforms will be unveiled on November 2.

New uniforms to be unveiled on November 2

Jim Crane mentioned within the Bo Porter press conference (that did not feature Bo Porter) the new Astros uniforms will be unveiled on November 2.

We are awaiting confirmation that they will not include an alternate Sackcloth & Ashes scheme.

Reaction to Bo Porter hiring

We'll be updating this throughout the day, so keep checking back.

Jon Heyman says the Astros moved on Porter before the Marlins could:
"The affable, energetic Porter is well regarded. In Washington, Porter managed to be liked by both GM Mike Rizzo and previous Nationals manager Jim Riggleman even though Rizzo and Riggleman for the most part seemed to have separate reporters (the ones who backed Rizzo remain). Porter's Nationals ties aided him in his chances with the Astros, as Astros first-base coach Dan Radison, who is a close confidant of new Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, was on the Nationals coaching staff under Riggleman."

The Nats Blog:
Porter has worked closely with Nats outfielders and baserunners during his tenure with the team. In spring training 2011, he had outfielders carry footballs while tracking down fly balls to help them close on balls. It was a fun drill, but also one to make a point to his guys. He's well respected in baseball, and the Nats will certainly miss his presence next season.

MASN's Dan Kolko:
Once Johnson does step aside, the Nats hope to replace him with an in-house option. Porter was considered one of the names towards the top of the list, but now, that list contains the names of bench coach Randy Knorr, first base coach Trent Jewett and Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, among others.  

Washington Times:
When Porter interviewed for the Marlins' vacancy at the end of the 2011 season, the Nationals made it clear they would love to keep him but would not stand in they way of his moving on for a more prominent position. 

Buster Olney:
He's young, upbeat and energetic, and the team can grow with him as it develops in the years ahead. Plus, the Astros don't have to pay him much, and he'll be more open to the heavy dose of sabermetric tonic prescribed by the front office than a lot of more established managers would be. 

Quad City Times: Keep losing, Astros!

The Quad City Times has an editorial in which they sort of hope the Astros continue to lose - and lose a lot.

And that’s always been the appeal of our River Bandits: An opportunity to see young men with big-league aspirations. That leaves us reluctantly hoping the Astros continue their 2012 slump to bolster the Bandits with top prospects in 2013.

Astros to hire Bo Porter

There are a number of reports breaking late last night/early this morning that Nationals 3B coach Bo Porter will be named the next manager of the Houston Astros.

Ken Rosenthal reported just before midnight that Porter was heading to the Astros. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore has a full(er) story posted.

Porter was the hitting coach for Low-A Greensboro in 2005, and manager for High-A Jamestown in 2006. From 2007 to 2009 Porter was the 3B coach and outfield and baserunning instructor for the Marlins. He left the Marlins to become the Diamondbacks' bench coach in 2010 and was promoted to bench coach in July 2010 after Kirk Gibson was promoted from bench coach to manager. He became the Nationals' bench coach under Davey Johnson following the 2010 season.

Porter had interviewed for a number of managerial positions before. The Astros interviewed him before offering the job to Brad Mills. The Marlins interviewed him mid-season 2010 after dismissing Fredi Gonzalez, but apparently only wanted to sign him to a contract through the end of the 2010 season (remember, we are talking about the Marlins here).

"The conversation did lead to that. They wanted to know, if that was the case, what is your thought process? My thought process is I would want this year and next year, at the very least, to have an opportunity to go through spring training and implement my standards. I want to make one thing clear. it was not like it (the job) was offered, take it or leave it. It was just part of conversation."

Then the Marlins stuck with interim manager Edwin Rodriguez after playing footsies with Bobby Valentine. Valentine had this to say about the process back in 2010:
"If this is a Major League process, I hope I'm never in the process again. It's very disturbing, confusing and it was insulting at times, but it's over."

ANYway, Porter was also a finalist for the Pirates job that ultimately went to Clint Hurdle. And many in Washington saw Porter as a successor to Davey Johnson when he eventually steps down. 

He will remain with the Nationals through their playoff run, however long that may be, and then join the Astros. There will be a press conference at 10am Central. 

Luhnow isn't looking at this as a short-term hire, as he said earlier Wednesday:
"We're looking to find a manager that's going to take the Houston Astros from where they are today, two years in a row losing more than 100 games, to the point of our goal, which is to win multiple championships. I'd like to be here when that happens, and I'd like the manager we hire to be here when that happens." 

FanGraphs interviewed Bo Porter back in July, and you'll see that he shares a lot of the same values as Luhnow has been pushing (hint: no bunts!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G156 - Astros v. Cardinals

Chris Carpenter (0-0, 3.60) vs Bud Norris (5-13, 5.05)

The story angle on tonight's game was obvious going in, but it cannot be ignored: Final game of 2012 in Houston. Final National League home game at Minute Maid Park. Final game as NL Central rivals against long-time archenemy St. Louis. And Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton's final regular radio broadcast ever. As hard to watch and forgettable as the last two seasons have often been, at least for one more night, it felt like old times again. Bud Norris spun a sparkling gem, Jose Altuve went deep, and the Astros triumph in an old-fashioned 'Dome-style pitcher's duel, 2-0. The win sends Houston on the road for their final six National League games at 51-105.

*Once upon a time, there was a pitcher named Bud Norris. Bud was 4-0 in May with a 0.35 ERA and on the brink of being NL Pitcher of the Month, when a bad start happened. Then a worse one followed. Then, before we knew it, he had gone 0-12 with a 6.14 ERA since. All of that fell by the wayside, and Bud was in rare form tonight. BudChuck's Line of Cardinal Dominance: 7.1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K. Wilton Lopez came on to help Bud out of the only jam he ever really faced, and he surrendered only a single while facing the minimum over the final 1.2. Bud finally got that long-awaited sixth win, and Lopez scored his eighth save.


*The Astros couldn't mount much offense against old foe Chris Carpenter, either, but it's that much sweeter to hand him the loss this way in their final showdown, as in the Oswalt/Clemens/Pettitte glory days.

*Houston was hitless through three, but Jose Altuve put an end to that on the first pitch of the 4th, blasting one onto the concourse behind the Crawford Boxes for his sixth home run of the season, and his first since June 23. The Altuve finished 1 for 4.

*Brett Wallace got the Astros on the board again with a RBI single four batters after Altuve in the 4th. He ended up 1 for 3.

*Justin Maxwell went 0 for 3, but reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, then scored on Wallace's single.

*Scott Moore went 1 for 4 with a double and 2 K, getting thrown out at home on the fielder's choice that let Maxwell on base.

*Fernando Martinez went 1 for 1 with a HBP in his only other plate appearance, and Brandon Barnes singled in his only at bat, pinch-hitting for Martinez in the 7th.

Turning Point:

BudChuck was perfect through three and only allowed one Cardinal to reach third base through the first seven, so the 2-0 lead he'd been given in the 4th looked solid. Trouble began to threaten in the 8th, however, when Bud hit Adron Chambers leading off, then a fielding error by Brett Wallace let Daniel Descalso reach safely, giving St. Louis the tying runs on base with no outs. Bud got a huge strikeout of Pete Kozma, then gave way to Wilton Lopez to face old ex- Carlos Beltran. But Lopez battled Beltran to a groundout to second, then got John Jay to ground to short to complete the escape.

Man of the Match:

Bud Norris. Studly Cudly Budly was all over it tonight.

Goat of the Game:

In Milo's words: Astros win! Astros win again!

Adrian Houser: #17 in Appalachian League

Baseball America has released its Top 20 Appalachian League prospect list, and Adrian Houser (the Astros' 2nd Round pick in 2011) is #17 - the lone Astro ranked.

Byron Buxton, who went #2 overall in the 2012 draft was the #1 prospect in the Appalachian League, as he was also the #1 prospect in the GCL. This is silly. So if you're like us, and immediately thought, "What the hell? What about Correa - who hit .371/.450/.600 for GreenEville?" Baseball America has an explanation:

Greeneville shortstop Carlos Correa, whom the Astros drafted first overall, batted .371/.450/.600 but his 41 plate appearances weren't enough to qualify for our list.

Anyhow, as a 19-year old, Houser threw 58IP for the Gastros, allowing 53H/27ER, 54K:23BB, with a 4.19 ERA/1.31 WHIP. 

Remembering Milo

As you have likely seen all over Houston media, the Astros are playing their final home game as a National League team tonight. The Houston Press had a crap column about it this morning.

But what it means for Astros fans is that Milo Hamilton - the voice of Astros' radio since 1987 - is calling his last game tonight.

Most are pretty happy, because Milo has either (A) Not been himself for the last few years, often going long stretches without mentioning things like the score. Or the inning. Or the game itself. Or Milo was (B) Totally Being Himself.

Still, I'll miss him. In 2006 my wife and made a traumatic move from Texas to upstate New York and, predictably, got quite homesick. It's one thing to be married and living six hours from "home." It's another thing to be 38 hours by car from home, or to get on a plane and be in London quicker than you would be in Houston.

We had XM at the time, and we spent a number of evenings in the summer of 2006 (and the subsequent two seasons before moving back south) sitting by the car and listening to Milo/Astros. We listened to at least 120 games that season. By the end of August we had to transition from shorts to sweatshirts. Were they great broadcasts? Technically, it was just alright. But it was Milo, and he was our connection back home.

At one point my wife and I had the opportunity to eat dinner with Milo - there's absolutely no way he'd remember - at an Italian restaurant Upstate. There was another guy there with him, but I can remember very little about him. We just sat and ate dinner and listened to Milo tell stories. The three of us (plus that other guy).

Have you ever gone to see a band for the first time that you had listened to for years, and couldn't help but think, "Amazing - that's exactly how they sound on their albums..." That's what dinner was like. I knew Milo's physical appearance, but to see him sitting in front of me, and trying not to watch him eat, all I could think was, "This is the guy who told me what was (or wasn't) happening with the Astros for years."

We can't remember any of the stories he told, but it was a good night. He didn't know us, but he treated us like we were two people who were acceptable enough to at least eat dinner with.

I'll miss Milo.

Astros have two of top four GCL prospects

Baseball America released their Top 20 GCL prospects today, and two Astros made the list despite not finishing the season in the GCL.

Carlos Correa (#2) and Rio Ruiz (#4) made it on the list. Four Pirates prospects made the list, presumably as a way to keep their fans from falling into the Pit of Despair.

Martinez, Porter, Bogar are your finalists

According to Jim Crane, the Astros are hoping to finalize the manager search by the end of this week, with an announcement being delayed by potential playoff appearances. 

This sounds an awful lot like something we mentioned yesterday, but according to the article, "Among the candidates who have interviewed and are still in the hunt" include Dave Martinez, Bo Porter, and Tim Bogar. 

"It will really depend on the selection we make, how quickly we announce that based upon where the teams are and the candidates we're talking to. If they're in the playoffs, we might have to wait until the playoffs are over."

So, if those three are your finalists, if an announcement does not come by the beginning of next week, it likely won't be Tim Bogar as the Red Sox will not be in the playoffs. Tampa Bay is three games back of the 2nd Wild Card spot with eight to play. Of course, if the selection is Bo Porter, we won't hear for a while, since the Nationals have already clinched the NL East. 

Harrell suspects six-man rotation for issues

Lucas Harrell had a rough night last night, and has a suspicion that the September move to the six-man rotation is partially to blame:

"It's a little too much time. I'm a touch and feel guy. I need to be out there a lot more."

When pitching every fifth day, Harrell has made 15 starts, throwing 95.1IP and allowing 85H/38ER, 71K:36BB, for a 3.59 ERA / 1.27 WHIP. 

In 13 starts when pitching every sixth day, he has thrown 75.1IP, 82H/36ER, 51K:34BB, for a 4.30 ERA / 1.54 WHIP. 

Of course, this is but a cursory look. However, Harrell has walked 4+ batters in three of his four starts since the transition to the extra starter. He could just be getting tired. In 2011, between the minors and majors, Harrell threw 144IP - he's now thrown 44.1IP more than he did in 2012. 

Problem for me is that if it's in Harrell's mind that there's a problem, it's going to manifest itself in some form  on the mound. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G155 - Astros v. Cardinals

Jamie Garcia (5-7, 4.25) vs Lucas Harrell (10-10, 3.89)

Well. Happy Jose Altuve Day, I guess. That's about all the Astros had to celebrate tonight, and all they've had to celebrate this month against the Cardinals. While Houston is 10-8 in September against the rest of the league, they're now 0-5 against St. Louis this month, following tonight's 4-0 defeat. The loss pushes the Astros to within one of their 2011 total, now 50-105 with seven games to go.

*That Lucas Harrell allowed 13 baserunners in his five innings but still only allowed two to score is really quite remarkable. His six walks tonight were a career high. The night could have gone much worse for him and for Houston, but with the Astros offense in deep freeze this week, their pitchers can't afford any mistakes. Therefore, Lucas' losing line: 5 IP / 7 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 6 BB / 1 K. Xavier Cedeno pitched a perfect 6th, and Hector Ambriz a perfect 7th, but Ambriz ran into trouble and allowed two runs in one-third of the 8th. Wesley Wright finished out the other two-thirds, then Mickey Storey tossed a perfect 9th.


*Were it not for Scott Moore, the Astros would have been the victims now of three consecutive shutouts. He was 1 for 1 tonight after coming in on a double-switch in the 8th, but that one was only a bases-empty single, so he couldn't get the Astros on the board again.

*In fact, all of Houston's seven hits tonight were singles, and they never drew a walk.

*Jose Altuve did go 2 for 4 on his "Day," for his 50th multi-hit game of the season.

*Brandon Laird went 2 for 3 and is now hitting .346 in 13 games (26 AB) as an Astro.

*Justin Maxwell and Matt Downs had identical days, each going 1 for 4 with a K.

*The Astros did only strike out six times tonight, but three of those were by Brandon Barnes, in each of his three ABs.

Turning Point:

Down 2-0, the Astros had yet to get a runner past second base going into the bottom half of the 7th, so the Cardinals were on cruise control. Justin Maxwell led off with a single, then Matt Downs popped up, but Brandon Laird also singled to move Maxwell around to third and to put the tying runs on base with only one out. The "threat" was extremely short-lived, however, as Chris Snyder grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch he saw. That was as close as Houston ever came to doing anything offensively tonight.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. For returning on his "Day" from minor injury with another multi-hit night.

Goat of the Game:

Chris Snyder. 0 for 3 with a K and 4 LOB. But the offense as a whole was equally offensive again.

Manager "short list" was 45, now getting closer

Jeff Luhnow said that the Astros began with a managerial candidate pool of 45, interviewed nine candidates, and that the search is drawing to a close.

"We are hoping to move forward and we're excited, and hopefully we get to a successful conclusion relatively soon."

Word from a source is that Dave Martinez, Bo Porter, and Tim Bogar are the favorites. And now that we know how an injured member of the St. Louis Cardinals feels about the search, that's all you really need to know.

Smallest crowd in Minute Maid History

Jeez, even "Cardinals fans" in Houston didn't want to go to the game last night.

12,584 fans attended the Astros game last night. In 2011, the lowest attendance mark was 19,250. The 2012 Astros have drawn less than that 47 times.

If Lance Berkman was Imperial Ruler of the Houston Astros, he'd hire Tim Bogar

So if Lance Berkman was calling the shots, he'd hire Tim Bogar to be the next manager of the Astros.

His reasoning?
“He was great to me when I was a young player. I’ve always thought he would make an excellent manager, and they could do a lot worse than him. I just have tremendous respect for him and know he knows the game.”

So let's break down Berkman's thought process here:

1. Tim Bogar was nice to me.
2. Tim Bogar is older than me.
3. You could do worse than Tim Bogar.
4. Tim Bogar is a good guy.
5. Tim Bogar has watched a lot of baseball.
6. Tim Bogar would make a good manager.
7. (Looks back at #3) Well, Tim Bogar would be better than some other potential managers.


Monday, September 24, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G154 - Astros v. Cardinals

Lance Lynn (16-7, 3.79) vs Fernando Abad (0-5, 5.11)

So... Scott Moore is still hot. Jed Lowrie did alright, too. The Astros managed slightly more offense today than yesterday afternoon. And if they were gonna play poorly, at least there were fewer people than ever at MMP to witness the disappointment. That was about all the good news there was to glean from tonight's 6-1 loss to St. Louis. Houston drops to 50-104 with 8 games left to go... oh, but they locked up another #1 overall pick!

*Fernando Abad just can't win. Literally. He's now made six starts in the big leagues, and he's been charged with the loss in all six. Adding injury to insult, he left after just five outs tonight with a right oblique strain, so his abbreviated line looked like this: 1.2 IP / 0 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. Fernando Rodriguez came in after the injury, as he did for Edgar Gonzalez on Friday night, but he wasn't nearly so sharp today, putting up a 4.1 IP / 7 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 5 K line with two home runs allowed. Jose Valdez let in two more runs (one unearned) in his inning, then Chuckie Fick and Rhiner Cruz tossed a scoreless inning apiece to finish up.


*For the second straight night, only Scott Moore stood between the Astros and getting shutout, as he went 2 for 4 with a RBI single in the 2nd.

*Jed Lowrie likewise went 2 for 4, including a double, but no one could get him home.

*Jason Castro went 0 for 4 with 3 K and one circus-catch robbery by John Jay, but he still scored the only Astros run as he reached on a Lance Lynn wild pitch ending one of those strikeouts.

*Marwin Gonzalez singled in his only AB before leaving with a left ankle sprain.

*Brandon Laird had Houston's only other hit tonight, going 1 for 4 with 2 K.

*Brett Wallace went 0 for 2, but he was the only Astro to work a walk tonight, which he did twice.

*Three errors didn't help the Houston cause tonight, though only one led to a run. Wallace, Laird, and Brian Bogusevic were the offenders, with Bogey's letting in the Cardinals' final run.

Turning Point:

The 2nd inning did Houston in tonight. Fernando Abad got the first two Cardinals out, but he walked Matt Carpenter next before leaving with his injury. Fernando Rodriguez came in, hoping to recreate his success from Friday night in this role, but St. Louis wouldn't have any of that. Daniel Descalso tripled home Carpenter, then Pete Kozma went yard to add on two more, burying the Astros early.

Man of the Match:

Scott Moore, again.

Goat of the Game:

Adding to pitchers that couldn't pitch and hitters that couldn't hit, we had fielders that couldn't field tonight, too. It's been a surprisingly good final month for the Astros, but this was just bad baseball.

J.D. Martinez done for year

J.D. Martinez is out for the year after he has surgery to remove part of his hamate bone removed on Wednesday. He'll be out for 4-6 weeks, and the Astros are hopeful he can still play Winter Ball.

Pablo Sandoval is the player who comes to mind when thinking about returning from hamate bone surgery. Telvin Nash and Rafael Valenzuela had part of their hamate bones removed in the 2011 season.

Here's a Baltimore Sun article on the recovery process.

Astros sign PDC with Low-A Quad Cities

Daniel Makarewicz is reporting from the press conference that the Astros have signed a two-year PDC with the Quad Cities River Bandits. Quad Cities play(s) in the Low-A Midwest League, and will replace the Lexington Legends, who punked out of negotiations with the Astros to renew their PDC.

More to come tomorrow

Unless something major happens, AC will be off-line until tomorrow (Tuesday), save for Cockroach's faithful recap of tonight's game.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk: G153 - Astros v. Pirates

A.J. Burnett (15-8, 3.64) vs Jordan Lyles (4-11, 5.40)

It is apparent in the way they played the last two days, and the last three weeks (4-17), that this is clearly another lost season for the poor Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, though, they seemed determined to at least reclaim some dignity. After being outscored 11-2 in the first two games of this series, the Pirates responded resoundingly today, pounding Houston to an 8-1 defeat in their final farewell to the Astros in the National League. The loss puts the Astros at 50-103 with nine games left in the season.

*Jordan Lyles + 5th inning = trouble. Again. Tony DeFrancesco did what he could to avert disaster, lifting Lyles before he had actually surrendered any runs, but the bullpen couldn't keep any of his bases-loaded runners from scoring. Thus, Jordan's line: 4 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 4 K. Wesley Wright let the first run in on a bases-loaded HBP before striking out Pedro Alvarez, then Mickey Storey came on and let in all three runners he inherited with a bases-loaded walk and two bloop singles. Storey further allowed another run on consecutive hits to start the 6th, before Chuckie Fick came in to shut the Pirates down for two scoreless frames. But then Enerio Del Rosario let them start it up again with three runs on five hits in his two-thirds of an inning, bringing in Rhiner Cruz for a scoreless final 1.1.


*When you consider that the Pirates amassed 18 hits, the Astros are lucky that the damage wasn't any worse than 8-1. Were it not for Scott Moore today, things could have been embarrassingly ugly.

*Moore went 3 for 4 with a single, a double, and a solo home run, all off of A.J. Burnett.

*Other than Moore, though, the Astros had pretty much no answers for Burnett. Brandon Laird managed the only other Houston hit today, with an 8th-inning single in his only AB, after coming in on a double-switch in the top half of the inning.

*Jose Altuve went 0 for 1 with a walk and his 33rd stolen base, before leaving the game with groin tightness. He's day-to-day, but Zach Levine says he'll probably be out against St. Louis tomorrow.

*Brian Bogusevic was 0 for 1 and hit by a Burnett pitch in the 8th. That was the only other Astro baserunner this afternoon.

Turning Point:

A scoreless game after four quickly went south for Houston in the 5th. The Pirates led off the inning with back-to-back singles by Alex Presley and Josh Harrison, followed by a walk to Andrew McCutchen that loaded the bases. Jordan Lyles was lifted for Wesley Wright, and Pittsburgh pinch-hit with Gaby Sanchez, but Wright's third pitch hit Sanchez to force in the first run of the game. Wright struck out Pedro Alvarez, then Mickey Storey came in to face pinch-hitter Jose Tabata, but Storey walked Tabata to force in run #2. Clint Barmes then blooped a single just beyond Tyler Greene's reach for the third Pirate run, and Rod Barajas dunked another single in front of Fernando Martinez in left for run #4. That was more than enough support for A.J. Burnett today.

Man of the Match:

Scott Moore. Minus Moore, and the Astros would have been victims of a one-hit, one-walk, one-HBP shutout.

Goat of the Game:

Take your pick of pitchers that couldn't pitch and hitters that couldn't hit today. This loss was a total team effort.