Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Morning Hot Links

I do what I want.

*From the BBC: How the United States, Canada, and Mexico won the 2026 World Cup.

*Spain defender Gerard Pique is using 1989 University of Michigan Basketball as motivation for Spain's World Cup 2018 run.

*From Deadspin: Italy's favorite cyclist Marco Pantani rode hard, died young, and might have lost his career due to a rigged drug test.

*How to watch, and stream, all of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

True story: Kula Shaker lead singer Crispian Mills is the son of the Pollyanna / The Parent Trap's Hayley Mills.

*The Astros beat the piss out of Oakland. It was interesting if only for literally a couple of bad pitches, but the Astros cruised to a 13-5 win to extend a season-high seven-game win streak, six of those on the road. Houston's record is 44-25. They have a +138 run differential. They remain a half-game back of Seattle, who have a +27 run differential.

*Last night was the Astros' first 10+ run game since an 11-2 win at Cleveland on May 25. I think we can all agree that the low-point of the Astros season, offensively anyway, came after the game of May 2, when the Astros were shutout for the second straight time at home against the Yankees. After that game they were hitting .250/.330/.396. They had hit 32 home runs through 32 games (20-12). From May 3-this morning the Astros are hitting .272/.337/.432 with 53 home runs in 37 games (24-13).

The first two innings were incredible, to get 10 runs and to really control the game from the very beginning of it is awesome. It's what we want to do every night. It's hard to put of those kinds of runs in bulk, but when you have great at-bats the first time through, we can do a lot of damage, obviously. 

*Evan Gattis did it again. He hit a sac fly, a three-run home run, and a solo home run. Evan Gattis is playing in a video game right now. Since May 7, Gattis is hitting .297/.345/.693, a 1.038 OPS and 12 home runs. In this span he's hitting a home run every 8.42 ABs. To find his last 5RBI game, you have to go all the way back to June 12, 2018. Gattis had never had a 5RBI game before Tuesday, now he has back-to-back 5RBI games. Nobody in Astros history has ever had back-to-back 5RBI games. Hinch:
It was fun to watch our guys respond to his continued damage at-bats. They're taking his helmet off and rubbing it all over themselves and they're trying to get as close to him as they can. They want whatever he's eating, whatever he's doing during the games. 

Gattis, on the franchise record:
I found out I was the first Astro, which is incredible, with all the incredible players that have played here - Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman. There's a lot of good players, so it's an honor.

*Yuli Gurriel was 3x5 with 3RBI. On April 28 Gurriel was hitting .220/.276/.360. Since then he's hitting .329/.341/.419. He has 6RBI in his last four games, with four straight multi-hit games.

*Carlos Correa hit his 6th career triple, and his first since June 8, 2017, against Kansas City.

*Holy crap for the 8th time this season Jake Marisnick had more hits (2) than strikeouts (1), getting a double and a 9th inning home run. It's his first multi-XBH game of the season.

*The Astros have outscored Oakland 62-17 in seven straight wins.

*Gerrit Cole threw 6IP, 6H/4ER, 6K:2BB and made two bad pitches and they cost him four runs. It's Cole's first non-Quality Start of the season. His propensity for giving up earned runs via the long ball continues to be a thing. Cole has given up 26 runs this season (in 93.2IP, which is just silly). Sixteen of them (61.5%) have come off a home run. Let's take a look at this:

% of runs allowed via home run (regular season):
2018: 61.5% (16 of 26)
2017: 50.0% (48 of 96)
2016: 14.0% (8 of 57)
2015: 18.3% (13 of 71)
2014: 27.6% (16 of 58)
2013: 20.9% (9 of 43)

Last night the 12th time in his career, and the 4th time this season, he's given up two home runs in a start. Gerrit Cole has now given up 78 career home runs - 39 in his home park, and 39 in the road park.

That said, the Astros are 12-2 in his starts and the two losses came on April 23 when the Astros got shutout and the freaking stupid Tyler Bauer game when the Giles and Harris blew an 8-3 lead in the 9th.

*Shoutout to Will Harris, though, who struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect 7th inning.

*Alex Bregman had the night off, and A.J. Hinch is going to start resting everyday players. And on Marisnick? Hinch:
I know he's had a tough time with the bat...He's a Major League player, he's on our team, he can run the bases. We've got to find a way to get his bat going...He's not going to get better by sitting on the bench for a week at a time until people are not mad at him or want him to play.

Why do I get the feeling that A.J. Hinch was looking directly into my soul when he said that?


*Mike Petriello notes that Statcast says Justin Verlander is MLB's Most Improved Pitcher.

*The Astros agreed to terms with 1-28 Seth Beer, who signed for $2.25m, just under $150,000 under slot. Updated draft financials can be found here.

*Here's Christian Boutwell with a 2-66 Jayson Schroeder update. TL;DR: He's committed to the University of Washington, and Mike Elias acknowledges that "it's going to be difficult to sign him away." Slot for the 2-66 pick is $965,300 and the Astros have about $150,000 to work with.

*Randy Cesar was 1x3 with a double and a walk to extend his hitting streak to 35 games. Forrest Whitley threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:2BB on 72 pitches in a 4-3 Corpus win.

*Minor League Ball did a write-up on 2014 34th Round pick Josh James, whose sleep apnea Jake Kaplan wrote up a little while back. John Sickels:
I think James has been seen mainly as a relief prospect but he's done so well as a starter, it would be a shame not to give him a chance in that role. Overall I think he's a completely legitimate prospect.

*There are seven Corpus players on the 2018 Texas League All-Star Game roster: Taylor Jones, Randy Cesar, Myles Straw, Josh Rojas, Cionel Perez, Corbin Martin, and Ryan Hartman.

*Cristian Javier made his High-A debut last night for Buies Creek and threw 6IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:3BB

*Ben Lindbergh in The Ringer: The Mariners are first-place flukes - and they deserve it.

*I wrote about a problematic article in The Atlantic.