Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Mayhaps you're heard: the Astros are having a hard time hitting the ball right now. Houston hasn't scored a run in 22 innings. They're 20-12, one game up on the 18-12 Angels. FanGraphs is still projecting a 100-62 season.

*Offense freaking sucks right now. For the 10th time in 32 games the Astros have been held to 0 or, hey, 1 run. They're 4-5 on this ten-game homestand and need a win to salvage a split against the Yankees as well as a .500 homestand.

*Last night the Astros were shutout for the second time in, wait, two games. The 2018 Astros have been shutout three times. They were shutout six times in all of the 2017 regular season. The last time the Astros were shutout in back-to-back games was July 1/2, 2013 - the dark days - against Frickin Tampa.

*A game after the Yankees emptied their bullpen to shut the Astros down, Luis Severino gave the bullpen the night off, needing just 110 pitches to throw a complete-game, 10K shutout. Hinch:
Tonight was about Severino, obviously. He completely dominated the night. We didn't have an answer for him.

*Keuchel threw 7IP, 6H/3ER, 5K:0BB and two home runs to Giancarlo Stanton. After having allowed 15 home runs in 145.2IP in 2017, Keuchel has now given up eight home runs in 45IP in 2018. The two home runs were the first Keuchel had ever allowed to the Yankees.

*Bregman's error in the 7th snapped a 12-game errorless streak, third-longest in club history.

*As Chandler Rome notes, Marwin has struck out four times with runners on base this series.

*While a bunch of people on line were diagnosing a mental health issue for Ken Giles (I'm not doing it), A.J. Hinch had some words to say:
It's a tough look for someone coming out of competition like that. I understand the frustration, I understand how much these guys put into it but in an ideal world you handle it a little bit more calmly and without the violence.

I didn't give our team a chance. Of course I'm going to be frustrated at that. This team deserves the best out of everybody and they need me to be the best I can be and that's what I'm going to give them from here on out.

How can you be mad at this guy? Gary Sanchez banged a bad pitch. Giles wants to win sooooooo bad. How many times do we, as a society, claim to want players who act like they care? Giles hit himself hard enough that, if he had hit you with the same force, you would be spitting blood. Dude can't be perfect. Nobody but 2008 Brad Lidge can be perfect. Hell, the Astros broke Kenley Jansen. I'm not on the Two Minutes Hate on Ken Giles. He's hard enough on himself as it is.

Titan of Baseball Journalism Roger Angell was decidedly not impressed by Hinch not walking Sanchez, and most assuredly not impressed by Giles:
What followed was transfixing, another Never Before, as the stalking-off Giles began punching himself, first in the chest and then in the jaw. The instant image was of a newborn flailing in his crib, and an adult baby, disrespectful of Sanchez and the Yankees and everyone watching. In the dugout, he smashed a bat to the floor and huffily made his departure, but left an image that will last his lifetime.

Rog, I love you, but I don't know about All That.

*Tyler Bauer walked back his accusatory tweets pointed directly at the Astros by saying he wasn't speaking directly about the Astros:
I want to make it abundantly clear and not mince words on it. I have no problem with any other organization in the league. None. Regarding the Astros, I think they do a great job of player development. I have no accusations against them at all. I've never made any, and I'm not accusing them of cheating.

I don't know, Tyler. The thing is, I want to believe you. I think you're misunderstood, Tyler, I really do. That story about you trying to figure out why some of your teammates don't like you? I can identify with that. That's totally something I would do. You like to play with drones. I spent all last weekend reading and writing about Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., his grandson Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and his really weird November 21, 1963. But something's just not right. Can't put my finger on it. Perhaps it's the whole "I have no accusations against them at all" part of your clarification statement, and how this whole fracas started with you responding to your buddies at Driveline Bases answering a question about whether the Astros were doctoring baseballs. Now that, that just seems disingenuous.

*Oh here comes Jeff Passan saying that baseball should make pine tar legal for pitchers and opens with Passan comparing "a pitcher for the Houston Astros" to Walter White.

*Former Astros Great and current manager slumming it with the Yankees Aaron Boone is trying to stay out of it:
I don't know. I don't get into Twitter wars anymore. I don't read that much into it. Guys use stuff to try and help with grip, but I don't think anything in my view fishy is going on.

Yankees blog Yanks Go Yard says it's because Boony and Hinchy (as they're likely calling each other because baseball) are Boys. And also that Boone should be ashamed of himself.

*Meanwhile, did Tyler Bauer perform a little experiment in the first inning of his Monday start?

*ESPN's Bradford Doolittle has a really great article on Alex Bregman, "baseball's sixth-best player." Obscured, so to speak, by Altuve, Correa, Springer, Keuchel, Bregman had this to say:
It motivates you every single day. I think that's why this team is so good. Everyone wants to be the best. Everyone wants to be the best player they can possibly be, and they want to be the best players in the game. I think it drives all of us. I definitely use it as motivation to keep working to get better.

Stay for the comparisons of Bregman's slow start in 2017 to his start this year. Good job, Doolittle.

*David Barron notes that the Astros .993 fielding percentage is on pace to best the 2013 Orioles' .991 fielding percentage - highest for a season in MLB history. McCullers:
We've taken pride in defense even going back to 2015. We didn't have this kind of roster, but that was one of the things that was stressed: to handle the ball well and play clean baseball.

*Sean Manaea won the AL Pitcher of the Month over Gerrit Cole.
Manaea: 43.2IP, 20H/5ER, 37K:7BB, 1.03 ERA / 0.62 WHIP
Cole: 41.2IP, 25H/8ER, 61K:8BB, 1.73 ERA / 0.79 WHIP

*Justin Verlander, whose next start is in Arizona, worked on his bunting and cranked a BP homer.

*Tuesday night's 5.9 rating on AT&T SportsNet Southwest was the highest for a regular season Astros game since 2008.

*Corpus' Yordan Alvarez was 2x3 with two home runs and two walks. 6'7" 225lb 2016 19th Round pick Taylor Jones was 4x5 with 2RBI and is hitting .378/.472/.635 in 21 games. Corpus won 8-3.

*Down East beat the dog piss out of Buies Creek, 15-3. Colin McKee made his High-A debut and allowed 1H/5ER, 1K:3BB (two runs were charged to him when Brandon Bailey allowed them to score).

*Quad Cities scratched back to .500 (12-12) with a 4-3 win against Great Lakes. Tyler Ivey threw 5IP, 4H/2ER, 7K:1BB. Ivey has 33K:4BB in 22.2IP. Making his season debut, Enoli Paredes struck out seven of the eleven batters he faced.

*Jim Crane is taking the lead on trying to find sponsorship for what used to be called the Shell Houston Open, or risk getting dropped from the PGA calendar.

*The Mariners pulled an Astros last night after James Paxton struck out 16 in 7IP, only to watch the bullpen lose it 3-2 after leaving the bases loaded in the 9th.

*Mike Trout's 524-foot home run, man.

*Adam Ottavino rebuilt himself in an empty Manhattan storefront.

*The Redskins are a trash organization.

*Writer Maria Konnikova wanted to write a book about poker, but then she got really good at poker and now the book is getting pushed back.

*"High Fidelity," by Nick Hornby, is one of my favorite books. Did you like John Cusack's character in the movie? You weren't supposed to.