Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*Hahahahahahahaha. The Astros threw a combined no-hitter against the Mariners in Aaron Sanchez's Astros debut and got seven extra-base hits for a 9-0 demolition of Seattle. Houston is 72-40. The lead on Oakland is still 8.5 games. There are 50 regular season games left.

Record, after 112 games:
2019: 72-40
2018: 71-41
2017: 71-41

The 2017 Astros went 11-17 in August. I don't think that'll happen to this team.At this point the Astros will need to 32-18 to reach 104 wins and set a franchise record. That's a .640 winning percentage down the stretch. Given that their win% right now is .642, it's doable.

Houston is 15-7 since the All-Star Break.

Game Notes

*You have to go back all the way to July 12 to find the last time the Mariners were no-hit.

*It's the first time since August 21, 2015 that the Astros have thrown a no-hitter, when Former Astros Great Mike F. Fiers did it against the Dodgers. It's the 12th time in franchise history that they've recorded a no-hitter. They're 11-1 in games in which they do not allow a hit. On April 23, 1964 the Reds beat the Astros 1-0 because starting pitcher Ken Johnson and Nellie Fox committed two infield errors in the top of the 9th and Pete Rose scored the winning run.

* has the facts & figures from the no-no.

*Aaron Sanchez was brilliant: 6IP, 0H/0ER, 6K:2BB. Sanchez's previous career-long with 0H allowed? 2IP, on August 30, 2014. Last night was his first win in 17 consecutive starts.

Sanchez threw his curve on 30.4% of his pitches, the highest curveball percentage of his career with a minimum of two batters faced according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Scott Servais:
He certainly wasn't dominating anybody coming into the game, so we expected to do a lot more against him and just weren't able to get it done.

I don't carry the burden of the early-season losses for him because he wasn't with us. I am proud of him for containing his energy and containing his excitement...I feel so good for him because he was able to channel that inner energy that he has and deliver a huge start. He really did step onto this team and provide a great first impression.

Sanchez's last three starts: 16.2IP, 11H/5ER, 22K:2BB. 2.70 ERA /  0.78 WHIP. Sanchez:
It's hard to come to a team and feel like you can contribute right away when they're already so good. So for tonight to end the way it did, these guys coming in behind me and doing their part, too...I'm so happy.

Sanchez is the 2nd pitcher in MLB history to be part of a combined no-hitter in his first start with a new team.

When I saw Vogelbach hit it in the air and Redd catch it and everyone came running at me, it was pretty cool...I kind of looked up when I was walking in from the bullpen and saw a 0 up there. I had to step off the mound and take a step back and gather myself. Going out there and being able to finish this, with these groups of guys, is something that's going to live on forever. I'm happy to be a part of it.

*Seattle's Mallex Smith:
It's kind of embarrassing. But it's baseball. It's sports, you know. Sometimes the dice roll your way, sometimes not.

Seattle started the season 13-2. They're 34-64 since.

*Hinch, on the Astros' seeming ability to turn pitchers around:
We don't have magic dust. There's a lot of people in the organization that go to work to try to find the one thing that can unlock people's potential.

Aha! But there's this from Hinch, as well:
I want to credit Aaron Sanchez more than I credit the magic dust we sometimes sprinkle on these guys. 

There is absolutely a jar of Magic Dust.

Gerrit Cole wasn't terribly thrilled with some fans who were leaving in the 9th Inning:
I just don't think everybody was aware of what was going on. I certainly wouldn't leave. But if you want to leave, you can leave. I'm not telling you to stay or leave, I just hope that you know that it was a no-hitter.

*Will Harris: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 0K:1BB.
Joe Biagini: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB
Chris Devenski: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB

Chandler Rome: How the bullpen locked down the no-hitter.

*2-6 in the lineup (Altuve-Brantley-Bregman-Yordan-Correa): 11x25 / 8 RBI with four doubles, a triple, and a home run.

*Michael Brantley was 3x5 with two doubles and 4RBI. He's hitting .320/.379/.516 with a career-high in OPS. It's his 11th 3+ hit game of the season.

*Astros hitters have recorded at least three hits in a game 70 times this season:
Brantley: 11
Gurriel: 10
Altuve: 9
Springer: 8
Bregman: 7
Reddick: 6
Correa: 5
Yordan: 4
Marisnick: 3
White: 3
Chirinos: 1
Kemp: 1
Mayfield: 1
Straw: 1

*Jose Altuve was 2x5 with his 18th home run of the year. On June 20 his OPS was .769. It's now .907. Over those 35 games he's hitting .373/.417/.633. He has a 1.212 OPS since the All-Star Break.

*Bregman, Yordan, and Correa each had two hits.

Other Astros News

*The Astros had a successful inaugural Hall of Fame class last night. Shoutout to Mike Acosta. J.R. Richard:
I cannot explain the feeling that's going through me right now. I'm just appreciative to be here with such a bunch of great guys. To have played with those guys has been a true pleasure and honor. And I'm so happy for the franchise and how it's grown.

*The pairing of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke is extremely rare in MLB history, writes Andrew Simon. Simon:
It's not just that the Astros have two likely future Hall of Famers. It's that they have them at a time when both pitchers are both so highly accomplished already (60+ WAR, Cy Young Awards), and still highly effective.

*There are three pitchers in MLB with 140+ IP thrown and a WHIP under 1.00: Verlander, Cole, Greinke.

*This recent story in The Athletic breaks down just how Aaron Sanchez had a 6.07 ERA.

*July AL Player of the Month: Yuli Gurriel
July AL Pitcher of the Month: Gerrit Cole. The last pitcher to win back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards was Blake Snell, who later won the AL Cy Young.
July AL Rookie of the Month: Yordan Alvarez

It's the first time since June 2006 (Minnesota) that one team has swept all three awards in the same month.

*Brian T. Smith: Join the Astros, be a part of history.

*Zack Greinke is a really interesting guy with a well-documented history of social anxiety. Brian T. Smith writes that, with the Astros, Greinke can just be himself. Luhnow:
He's not a guy that seeks the limelight, and that actually works well for us here in Houston and slotting in with Verlander and Cole. He's not going to have to be the guy that's in front of the camera the whole time. But he's a competitor. The one thing I've heard about him is he's really intelligent...The GM of the Diamondbacks told me that he loves to study the draft, he loves to absorb the draft, he knows all the draft players. So I'm looking forward to having him as a special assistant.

The Astros have so many Personalities on the team: Bregman, Reddick, Correa (and Daniella, of course), Springer, Yuli. Verlander and Cole. Yordan is a serene lake at dawn. Greinke doesn't have to provide a soundbite. It's perfect. I have a fairly decent case of social anxiety, or maybe anxiety/depression in general. It manifests itself in different ways. I drink a decent amount, but I'm working on that. Hot Links, and Astros County in general, has helped. Running helps more. I didn't really feel this anxiety during the live show but I would much rather, 99% of the time, to just stay home. Maybe it's teaching/coaching that forces me to be social and caring and accommodating, and there's something to taking on the weight of 120+ students and all of their emotions and the weight of their general existence. I tell my students that if they just can't deal with the cafeteria then my room is open (provided the door stays open and I tell our hall security guard that I have a student in there - can't be too careful) for them to just sit and eat lunch. We can talk if they want, or I can get some work done while they remove themselves from a situation if they don't. I'm exhausted when I get home.

So to the Houston reporters - and I know at least a couple of you read this blog - just leave Greinke alone. He'll talk when he wants to talk. If you're reading this, do not think that Greinke is "such a weirdo." Laugh at the legitimately funny stories surrounding Greinke, but do not just chalk him up to being a head case. Because in reality, who isn't?

And if you want more insight into who Greinke actually is, I'd suggest a couple of Joe Posnanski pieces. This one, too.

*Round Rock beat Sacramento 10-9. Kyle Tucker was 2x5 with a double and his 28th home run of the year. Abraham Toro was 2x3. Alex De Goti was 2x4 with a home run and 3RBI. Brad Peacock "threw" 1.1IP, 3H/5ER, 2K:2BB in a rehab start.

*Corpus won 5-1. Colton Shaver hit a three-run home run and JJ Matijevic added another long ball.  Forrest Whitley gets the start for Corpus today.

*Cal Stevenson made his Astros org debut last night, hitting 6th for Fayetteville. He went 0x3 with an RBI and a stolen base in a 4-3 Fayetteville loss. Shawn Dubin (13th Round - 2018) threw 4.2IP, 2H/2R (0ER), 11K:1BB.

Dubin's last two starts: 9.2IP, 5H/2ER, 20K:3BB.

*Quad Cities lost to Kane County 2-1 in 10 innings. Jose Alberto Rivera and Jonathan Bermudez combined to throw 8IP, 7H/1ER, 8K:4BB. The game-winning run for Kane County was unearned.

Other Stuff

*FanGraphs' David Laurilia has really great background on Former Astros Great Corbin Martin's development all the way to Arizona.

*Patrick Sandoval is getting called up to Anaheim. Sandoval, drafted by the Astros in the 11th Round of the 2015 Draft, was traded to Anaheim in 2018 for Martin Maldonado.

*The Yankees' Edwin Encarnacion, who had hit nine home runs as a Yankee, has a right wrist fracture. The Yankees' IL takes ten minutes just to read.

*Here's an academic paper that looks at pitcher mechanics and how fatigue leads to injuries, which leads to poor pitching mechanics, which leads to...

*Back from heartbreak after missing promotion to the Premier League, my beloved Leeds United kicks off the 2019/2020 season this morning against Bristol City. They're anywhere from 3:2 to 7:4 on winning promotion this year.

*A Musical Selection:

Periodic reminder that the Hot Links Playlist is on Spotify and is now over 10 hours long.