Saturday, July 13, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Friday's Games

Greeneville Astros 2, Princeton Rays 1
Greeneville scored both runs in the fourth and then held on for their second consecutive win on the road. Sebastian Kessay started and went three innings, giving up just two hits and walking the same while striking out four. Austin Chrismon (1-0) picked up his first win after hurling the next three frames and allowing a run on four hits (HR) as he struck out a trio. J.D. Osbourne pitched the final two innings and earned his sixth save of the season after allowing a hit, walking three and striking out one. Greeneville had just three hits in this win and Brett Phillips collected two of them, batting two-for-four with a run scored and a double.

GCL Astros 4, GCL Yankees2 3
GCL Astros starting pitcher Jose Montero worked five scoreless innings, with six hits and two Ks Friday. After Montero left, the Astros gave up four runs through the ninth. Chris Munnelly (0-1) was charged with the loss and blown save after recording two runs on four hits, a walk and a strikeout. Mesac Laguna hit two-for-four in the game with a run scored and a double. Tyler White saw his double and raised, finishing the game three-for-three with a run scored and an RBI. All three of White's hits were doubles.

DSL Dodgers 4, DSL Astros 3 (7)
Starter Javier Saucedo (1-1) went five and a third in this one and took the loss. Saucedo allowed just four hits, but also allowed three runs during his shift—while striking out eight. Geronimo Franzua came in to close out the top of the seventh and did just that, striking out all three batters. Franzua has 21 Ks in 21.2 innings pitched. At the plate things were pretty quiet. Arturo Michelena was the only batter with more than one hit for the DSL Astros, going two-for three with a run scored and an RBI.

Tri-City Valley Cats 2, Mahoning Valley Scrappers 1
The Valley Cats scored twice in the first inning and then coasted behind solid pitching to the win. Michael Feliz (3-1) worked the first five and tallied the "W" as he allowed five hits (all singles), walked one and struck out seven, including the last four batters he faced. Tri-City had just four hits in the game. The runs in the first inning came by way of an error that allowed James Ramsay (1X3 R BB SO) to score and a ground-rule double by Ryan Dineen (1X3 2B RBI SO) to score Conrad Gregor (0X3 R BB).

Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Quad Cities River Bandits 3
Quad Cities stayed close in this game, but not close enough for the win. The River Bandits were swept in this three game series at home. Chris Devenski (0-1) allowed a single in each of the first three innings, but no real damage until the fourth when he allowed three runs (2ER) on two walks and two hits (there was also a throwing error in the fourth). Devenski also struck out three. Juri Perez pitched the final four innings and gave up another run in the seventh, finishing with four hits overall and two Ks. Carlos Correa batted two-for-five, recording his 49th RBI in the seventh when he knocked in Brian Blasik (1X2 2R BB) for the final River Bandits' run of the meeting.

Inland Empire 66ers 3, Lancaster JetHawks 10
After the smoke cleared Friday night at The Hangar, Lancaster had jacked four home runs and four doubles as a team. M.P. Cokinos hit two homers and a double himself, finishing four-for-four at the plate with three runs scored and three RBI. Matt Duffy (2X3 R HR 3RBI BB) and Chris Epps (1X4 R HR RBI SO) hit solo shots of their own in the game and all three players combined for seven RBIs. Aaron West (7-5) threw the first six innings and picked up his seventh win, allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and six strike outs. Here's a look at the box for the rest of Lancaster's offense on Friday:
Frisco RoughRiders 6, Corpus Christi Hooks 3 (13)
Corpus Christi battled in this extra-inning game and eventually fell after allowing three runs in the 13th to end their six-game winning streak. Mike Foltynewicz started and through six innings recorded three runs (2ER) on eight hits as he struck out five. After Folty exited Corpus kept their opponents hitless for the next four innings. Kenny Long (0-1) entered to pitch the 13th and left with his first loss after allowing three runs on five hits (HR) in the frame. Kiké Hernandez had three hits in the game (3X5 2R HR RBI BB SO), belting a solo homer in the fifth inning, his eighth of the year. 

New Orleans Zephyrs 9, Oklahoma City RedHawks 0 (7)
The RedHawks fell behind early in the first game of their double dip on Friday and it became a no-doubter after they allowed a five-run fourth inning. Phillip Humber (0-4) started and took the loss, pitching just two and two-thirds innings. Humber allowed four runs on four hits and walked four in that time. Alex Sogard followed Humber for three outs and was charged with another five runs on four hits, walked four of his own and struck out one. Carlos Perez (2X3), Jon Singleton (2X3) and Marwin Gonzalez (2X4) had two hits apiece in this game and marked six of the eight hits that went down as LOB.

New Orleans Zephyrs 0, Oklahoma City RedHawks 5 (7)
Oklahoma City came back with a retaliatory  four-hit shutout in the second game of the day to split the doubleheader. Jonathan Singleton (1X3 R HR RBI) started the scoring off by hitting a solo home run in the second inning, his second as a RedHawk. Eric Berger threw the first three and two-thirds, allowing three hits and walking one as he struck out a pair. The win went to Jason Stoffel (4-0) who followed Berger, pitching until the seventh, allowing just one hit while striking out three. Robbie Grossman heated up at the plate in this game, hitting three-for-four with a run scored, double and RBI. Brandon Laird (2X3 2B 2RBI SO) and George Springer (2X3 2B) added two hit performances and a double apiece.

Player of the Day: Tyler White and M.P. Cokinos stole the show offensively on Friday. White hit three doubles in the game and is batting .379 in 58 at bats so far this season (9 2B). Cokinos, well, he is a one-man show and amongst all the offensive hubbub yesterday, he ended up a triple short of the cycle.

Pitcher of the Day: Michael Feliz got better as he went on yesterday. He passed out a handful of singles over his five innings of work, but before leaving the game struck out the last four batters he faced. Feliz has K-ed 32 batters this season through 25.1 innings of work and allowed only 14 hits in the same time.

Happy Birthday - 7/13

Happy Birthday to ~

C Alfredo Gonzalez (21)
Gonzalez was a NDFA out of Venezuela who first played for the DSL team in 2009. After sitting out 2010, he played for the GCL Astros in 2011 and 2012 and has now graduated to Greeneville in 2013. So far this season, he is hitting .241/.371/.276 with a 43% caught stealing percentage.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

C Robbie Wine (51)
A first round pick by the Astros in 1983, Wine only played in 23 games for Houston, hittiing .146/.186/.195.

C Don Bryant (72)
Bryant came to Houston as a Rule 5 pick from the Giants in December of 1968. In 46 games for the Astros in 1969 and 1970, he hit .193/.244/.241.

OF Joe Cannon (60)
Originally drafted by Houston in the first round in 1974, Cannon only played in 17 games for the Astros in 1978 and 1979, hitting .171/.171/.229.

OF Chris Jones (56)
A 25th round pick by the Astros in 1979, Jones hit .200/.286/.200 in 31 games.

Apparently, it is underachiever's day for our former Astros.

Tweet of the Day

Extremely proud to be an Astro and start my career with them! They are a first class organization

Friday, July 12, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

New Orleans over Oklahoma City 11-0
Starter Jake Buchanan allowed five runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight in seven innings. Two of Buchanan's runs came across in the eighth when Jose Valdez came in and things got a bit out of control with six runs scoring in the inning, giving New Orleans a 9-0 lead. The two additional runs scored off Valdez and Rhiner Cruz in the ninth were just salt in the wound. Oklahoma City was held to three hits in the shutout, all singles.

Corpus Christi over Frisco 5-2
R.J. Alaniz (6.1IP 6H 2R 2BB 4SO) got the start and the win. Andrew Robinson (1.1IP 2H 1SO) inherited a one out, bases loaded jam in the seventh and got a strikeout and ground out to end the threat. Jorge de Leon cruised to his fourth save with a perfect one and a third innings. The Hooks scored one in the third, three in the sixth on a two RBI double from Michael Burgess (2x4) and a Raoul Torrez RBI single, and added on a final run in the seventh on a Kike Hernandez solo homer. Rene Garcia went three-for-four with a double, a triple, an RBI and a run scored.

Inland Empire over Lancaster 7-1
The Lancaster crew showed signs of wear and tear on day number 22 of 26 straight games without a day off. Only three of the seven runs charged to Tommy Shirley (6IP 9H 4R/2ER 6SO HR) and Cameron Lamb (1.1IP 2H 3R/1ER) were earned runs, thanks to three errors in the game. T.J. Geith allowed one of Lamb's runs to score, but no more in his one and a third innings. Despite getting 10 hits in the game, the 'Hawks only managed one run on a Telvin Nash second inning home run as they went one-for-nine with RISP. Matt Duffy was four-for-four and Tyler Heineman went two-for-four.

Bowling Green over Quad Cities 4-3 in 12 innings
Vincent Velasquez got the start and allowed three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five over five innings before giving way to Mitch Lambson (3IP 1H 1BB 4SO). Juan Minaya (4H 1R 1BB 4SO) pitched the final four and was charged with the loss in extras. The River Bandits scored one in the first and didn't get on the board again until the eighth inning when back-to-back doubles from Jesse Wierzbicki (2x6 R) and Rio Ruiz (2x5 BB) plated two. Jordan Scott was two-for-five and scored a run, and Carlos Correa was one-for-four with two walks and scored a run.

Tri-City over Mahoning Valley 4-1 in 8 innings (Game 1)
Starter Adrian Houser was charged with one unearned run on one hit and two walks over five and a third innings. He struck out four. Charles Basford pitched two-thirds innings and allowed that Houser run to score, giving him a blown save. Richard Rodriguez put up two perfect innings and was rewarded with the win as Tri-City broke the 1-1 tie in a big way, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth. Tony Kemp drove in two of those three with an RBI double and then scored the third on a wild pitch. Ryan Dineen drove in Ronnie Mitchell in the fifth with an RBI single.

Tri-City over Mahoning Valley 1-0 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Tanner Bushue got the start and the win, pitching six scoreless and allowing only two hits while striking out five. Andrew Walter followed with a perfect seventh for the save. The 'Cats only managed three hits, but made them count as James Ramsay (2x3) drove in D'Andre Toney with a single in the sixth inning.

Greeneville over Princeton 4-1
Frederick Tiburcio (6IP 2H 1R/0ER 3BB 5SO) and Jordan Mills (3IP 1BB 3SO) combined to limit Princeton to two hits at home. Greeneville scored two in the first on a Brian Holbertson RBI double and an Ariel Ovando RBI single. The Astros put up another pair in the ninth, helped in large part by two errors and a wild pitch.

GCL Tigers over GCL Astros 7-5
Agapito Barrios got the start and the loss allowing two runs on four hits and two walks over two and a third innings and was followed by Zach Dando (1.2IP 0H 2R/1ER 3BB) and Jorge Perez (1IP 3H 3R). Joe Musgrove was the only Astros pitcher who didn't allow a run. He pitched three innings and gave up two hits and a walk while striking out four. The Astros only managed six hits. However, two of them were home runs from Alex Gonzalez and Luis Reynoso (2RBI) and one was an RBI triple from Jacob Nottingham. Tyler White was one-for-three with a walk, RBI and a run.

DSL Astros at DSL Dodgers postponed

Player of the Day: Catcher Rene Garcia doesn't get as much attention as Carlos Perez, Max Stassi, Tyler Heineman and others, but he is quietly going about having a very good season at the plate, hitting .296/.348/.421 in 57 games. His career caught stealing is 36%, but he has eclipsed that with a 46% mark so far this season.

Pitcher of the Day: Tanner Bushue's two-hit performance from Thursday earns him the WTHB nod. In five appearances, he is 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA and a miniscule 0.706 WHIP.

Happy Birthday - 7/12

RHP Zach Morton (23)
Drafted by Houston in the 32nd round in 2013 out of Northwestern, Zach has made four appearances for the Tri-City ValleyCats and has compiled a 1.59 ERA and a 0.971 WHIP.

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Ron Willis (died November 21, 1977 at age 34)
Willis was purchased by Houston from the St. Louis Cardinals in August of 1969 and returned to the Cardinals in November of 1969. I'd call that a rental. He only pitched 2.1 innings for the Astros in three games, but had a 0.00 ERA and a 1.286 WHIP.

RHP Scipio Spinks (66)
One of the better names in Astros history, Spinks was signed by Houston as an amateur free agent in 1966. In 11 appearances over three years with the big club from 1969 to 1971, he had a 5.40 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP before being traded to the Cardinals in April of 1972. He had a very successful season for the Cardinals (5-5 in 16 starts with a 2.67 ERA) before injuring his knee in a collision at the plate with Johnny Bench.

Tweet of the Day

Just met Mankind (Mick Foley) but no mr. Socko!
Embedded image permalink

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Journey

[Note: A friend of mine reminded me about this post from last summer. Since I'm on my annual hiking vacation, I thought this would be a good time to re-post it.]

It's not the destination, it's the journey.

I like to hike. But I usually do so alone. That is my preference. I do like to see or hear other people along the trail, but that's more because of my unnatural fear of bears, even when there are no bears anywhere nearby. The occasional noisy person on the trail will scare off any pesky bears. At least that's my reasoning.

I like to hike alone for a number of reasons. Part of it is that I'm an amateur photographer and I like to take my time and take pictures of all manner of weird things that I see. I'm sure that would annoy a serious hiking companion to no end. And I like the quiet and solitude of a solo hike wherein the only sounds I hear are birds chirping and my own labored breathing on the steep sections.

But most of all, I enjoy taking my time and just taking in the experience. A hike that would take a serious hiker an hour or two may take me twice that long. I take the time to really look at the bark on a tree, a mangled stump, a single flower, a bit of moss or fungus. I look for the birds I hear above me. I look at the trail ahead, the trail behind, the ground at my feet and the sky above me, taking particular delight in the dappled glow of filtered sunlight as it makes everything greener and more vibrant. I'm always struck by how many shades of green abide in nature. And how those shades change depending upon how the sunlight touches them.

And I am often rewarded on my journey for my patience. As I was hiking around Cascade Lake on Orcas Island in Washington this past week, I encountered a number of people. Families and friends hiking together chattering away and barely acknowledging their surroundings, an older woman on a power walk and a younger woman jogging the trail, each of whom were fairly oblivious to the wonders around them. As I rounded one corner on the trail, I came to an opening in the forest and a breathtaking view of the lake. As I stood there transfixed taking in all of the colors and textures, a bald eagle soared overhead across the lake and into the trees.

It was just a few seconds, but the image is fixed in my mind and will be tucked away with memories of other such encounters over the years - mountain goats in Montana, wild toucans in Brazil, a mongoose on St. Vincent's, a waved albatross mating dance in the Galapagos, a magnificent elk in the Canadian Rockies.

And what does this have to do with baseball you might ask? Nothing and everything. The destination for the minor league players I follow is to make it to the show. The destination for me in following them is to see a strong farm system that can keep supplying the Astros with good players for years to come, players that will make them a competitive team from year to year.

But even when the Astros are competitive again and the farm system ranks in the top five perennially, I will continue to follow "my boys." Because I have enjoyed the journey so much as I have slowly gotten to know so many of these young men. The metaphorical colors and textures of these players is as varied as those I find in nature. I am endlessly fascinated by their talent, their stories, their personalities. And if I'm very, very patient, I know I will see some of them soar.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

Oklahoma City over Round Rock 7-0
Brad Peacock got the start and allowed only two hits and a walk while striking out four over six shutout innings. The bullpen, in the guise of Jason Stoffel, Kevin Chapman, Josh Zeid and Alex Sogard, kept the two-hit shutout going through the final three innings. The RedHawks got two across in the third on a two-run home run from George Springer (1x3 2BB 2R), his seventh in only 14 games with OKC and his 26th for the season. Robbie Grossman (1x5 3RBI) and Brandon Laird (1x3 2BB 2RBI 2R) added on five more runs in the ninth via the long ball. Ruben Sosa was two-for-three with a walk and scored a run.

Corpus Christi over Frisco 8-7 in 16 innings
Ross Seaton got the start and had a great outing, allowing only one run on two hits and two walks while striking out eight over six innings. The bullpen was a mixed bag with Kenny Long allowing three runs in the seventh and eighth and Chia-Jen Lo (in his first appearance with Corpus this season) giving up three more in the ninth to allow Frisco to tie it up. Pat Urckfitz and Carlos Quevedo kept things knotted for the next seven innings and Matt Heidenreich pitched the 16th and got the win a mere five hours and 16 minutes later. Corpus actually led this one 7-0 at one point, having scored one in the first on an Erik Castro (2x5 3BB 3R) solo homer and another six in the fourth, three of those coming on a Jio Mier bases-clearing double. The game-winning run came across in the 16th as Erik Castro scored on a passed ball. Max Stassi was two-for-four with two walks and a run, and Domigo Santana went three-for-eight with a double.

Inland Empire over Lancaster 11-8
Luis Cruz had a rare hiccup in his start as he allowed eight runs (seven earned) in only one and a third innings of work. Cruz had only allowed a total of four runs over his last seven outings combined. Cruz was followed by Blair Walters (4.2IP 5H 1R 1SO) and Michael Dimock (3IP 5H 3R 2SO). Behind 9-0 going into the fourth inning, the JetHawks chipped away at the 66ers lead with one in the fourth on a Brandon Meredith (3x5 2B HR) RBI single and one in the fifth on a Delino DeShields (2x5 2R) RBI double before breaking out with a five-run seventh which featured home runs from Brandon Merdith, Tyler Heineman (2x4) and Joe Sclafani (2x4 2RBI 2R). But despite scoring another in the ninth, the 'Hawks left the bases loaded and fell short.

Bowling Green over Quad Cities 8-2
Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out five in his four innings of work before giving way to Jamaine Cotton who allowed one unearned run on two hits in his two innings. Daniel Minor showed some rust in his second outing since coming off the DL as three additional runs came across under his watch. Gerardo Sanchez (1.2IP 1H 1BB 2SO) finished it off in scoreless fashion. Quad Cities only got six hits in the game, two of which happened to be solo homers from Bobby Borchering and Rio Ruiz. Austin Elkins was two-for-four and stole a base and Jordan Scott was two-for-five.

Tri-City at Mahoning Valley - Postponed

Princeton over Greeneville 10-4
Jandel Gustave only lasted two and two-thirds innings and gave up five runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks. He was followed by Krishawn Holley (2.1IP 3H 1R 1BB 3SO), Ryan Connolly (1.2 3H 3R/1ER 2BB 3SO) and Gerardo Ramirez (1.1IP 2H 1R 1SO). The Astros got two in the fourth and added on two more in the sixth on Ricky Gingras (2x3 BB 3RBI) first home run of the season. Tanner Mathis was three-for-three with a walk.

GCL Astros over GCL Tigers 9-6
Francis Ramirez (4H 2BB 5SO HR) got the start and allowed four runs over two and two-thirds innings and was followed by Troy Scribner (4.1IP 3H 2R 4SO HR) who got the win despite allowing another pair across. Kevin Ferguson and Chris Munnelly were perfect in relief. The Astros got two in the second, three in the fourth courtesy of a Jose Solano (2x4 2R SB) three-run dinger, and four in the sixth, with three of those four runs coming via a Yonathan Mejia RBI double, a Tyler White RBI single and a Jean Batista (3x5 2R) RBI triple, his second  triple of the game.

DSL Astros at DSL Royals - Postponed

Player of the Day: Erik Castro gets my love today for his two hits, for his solo home run, for his three walks, for the three runs he scored (including the game-winner), but mostly for staying after a five hour and sixteen minute game to sign autographs, alongside Zach Johnson.

Pitcher of the Day: Brad Peacock is the man of the day for his six shutout innings. In 10 starts with Oklahoma City, he is 5-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.051 WHIP. He has walked 19 batters while striking out 57.

Happy Birthday - 7/11

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

SS Bert Pena (54)
Pena was first signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Puerto Rico by Houston in 1977 and he spent his entire career as an Astro. In very limited playing time (only 88 games over six seasons), Pena hit .203/.268/.248.

LHP Ron Cook (66)
A converted outfielder, Cook pitched for the Astros for two seasons. In 46 games over 1970 and 1971, he went 4-8 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.417 WHIP.

RHP Donne Wall (46)
An 18th round pick by Houston in 1989, Wall pitched in 40 games (36 starts) for the Astros from 1995 to 1997. He was 14-14 with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.440 WHIP.

RHP Yorman Bazardo (29)
Bazardo joined Houston as a free agent in April of 2009. Although he put up decent numbers with the AAA affiliate that season (9-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.133 WHIP), it didn't really translate in his 10 appearances  in Houston later that season as he was 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA and a 1.844 WHIP. Bazardo is currently pitching for Rimini in the Italian Baseball League.

Tweet of the Day

Tornado warning, sideways rain and pure darkness! Lets play all 9 boys!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Roster Moves

Houston/Oklahoma City
RHP Jarred Cosart called up to Houston (MLB debut scheduled for Friday)
OF Jimmy Paredes re-assigned to Oklahoma City

Corpus Christi
RHP Chia-Jen Lo assigned from Quad Cities to Corpus Christi

RHP Mike Hauschild assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster
LHP Kyle Hallock assigned from Corpus Christi to Lancaster
RHP Tyson Perez placed on the 7-day DL (retroactive to 7/9)

Quad Cities
RHP Mark Appel assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities
3B Bobby Borchering assigned from Greeneville to Quad Cities
OF Teoscar Hernandez placed on the 7-day DL retroactive to 7/08
RHP Chris Devenski assigned from Lancaster to Quad Cities
C Luis Alvarez assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities

Astros Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

Round Rock over Oklahoma City 11-8
Starter Wade LeBlanc allowed nine runs on 11 hits (two home runs) and struck out six in three and a third innings and Jose Valdez added on another two runs without recording an out. Eric Berger, Rhiner Cruz, Philip Humber and Hector Ambriz stopped the bleeding, but the damage was already done. The RedHawks did bang out 17 hits, but were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Marwin Gonzalez was three-for-five with a double and scored two runs; Brandon Laird was three-for-five and scored three runs; and George Springer went four-for-five with a triple, two home runs and five RBI.

Corpus Christi - Off Day

Lancaster over High Desert 7-5
David Rollins got the start, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out eight (including striking out the side in his sixth and final inning of work). Jonas Dufek then worked two-thirds of an inning, and allowed three unearned runs on a two-out bases clearing double that immediate followed a throwing error from Nolan Fontana. Michael Dimock earned the win and Travis Ballew earned his 15th save with scoreless outings. The 'Hawks got on the board with a two-run Tyler Heineman home run in the fourth and a two RBI double from M.P. Cokinos in the fifth. They then played add on with a Carlos Perdomo RBI single in the sixth, and a Heineman solo shot in the eighth. The final run came across in the ninth as Delino DeShields walked, tooked second base on an error, stole third base and then stole home on an intentional walk pitch. Yeah, that happened. DeShield has now stolen 10 bases in his last 10 games after stealing only 18 bags in his first 59 games.

Quad Cities - Off Day

Aberdeen over Tri-City 8-2 in 10 innings
Yeah, you read that right. Tri-City gave up six runs in the top of the 10th inning, a hill that was way too steep to climb in the bottom of the frame. Mark Appel had a strong start on his way out of town (as he received a quick promotion to Quad Cities), allowing only three hits and no walks in his three innings of work. He struck out five batters, four of them swinging. Evan Grills (5H 2R 2BB) pitched three and left with the bases loaded in the seventh. Kevin Comer (3.2IP 3H 4R 2BB 3SO) allowed two of Grills' runs to score, plus two of his own, plus another two were charged to Comer courtesy of Pat Christensen (0.1IP 3H 2R HR), who in turn gave up two runs of his own. This is not the right way to pay it forward, guys. Mike Martinez' two-run dinger in the fourth accounted for the only Tri-City runs.  That was the only extra base hit of the game. Chan Moon and Tony Kemp each swiped a bag.

GCL Braves over GCL Astros 6-4
Ambiorix de Leon (5.1IP 4H 2R 2BB 4SO) got the start, Raul Rivera (0.2 3H 2R/1ER) got the blown save, and Juan Santos (1IP 1H 2R 3BB 1SO) got the loss. Erick Gonzalez (1IP 1H) was the only Astros pitcher to allow no runs in the game. The Astros got two in the third and then added on one in the seventh on a Jason Martin (2x4) RBI single and one in the eighth on a Brett Booth (1x3 BB) RBI double. Ydarqui Marte went two-for-four with a double and scored two runs. Tyler White also doubled in the game.

DSL Royals over DSL Astros 3-2 in 11 innings
Edwin Villarroel pitched the first five, allowing two runs on six hits and was followed by five from Gerardo Juarez, who allowed only one hit and struck out four. Yonquelys Martinez got the loss in extras. The Astros were held to five hits and two players got them all. Arturo Michelina was two-for-four with a double and an RBI; and Jean Estrella was three-for-four.

Player of the Day: George Springer, come on down. In addition to his four-for-five night, he is hitting .422/.519/.889 in the 13 games since his call-up to AAA.

Pitcher of the Day: Gerardo Juarez is starting to catch my attention. After this latest five-inning scoreless relief outing, Juarez has a 1.14 ERA and a 0.676 WHIP in seven appearances. He has walked only two batters while striking out 20.

No Birthdays Today So ...

How about bonus tweets of the day instead ...

Brady Rodgers
Solid team win today!! diced, swiping home in the 9th, goin bomb sauce twice and closing

Brady Rodgers
And of course raking

Tweet of the Day

Bobby Doran
My bug swatting skills are on point today

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Random Thoughts From My Trip To Tri-City

I am officially on vacation so I don't plan to post a lot from my Tri-City trip this week. But I did want to leave you with a few random observations.

First of all, the staff at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, more casually known as "The Joe," was nothing short of amazing. Chris Chenes, Matt Appel and Brendan Phillips, in particular, literally formed a welcoming committee for me and helped me more than I probably deserved! Keep in mind that my first credentialed day at the park just happened to be the day that number one overall draft pick Mark Appel made his professional debut (here's my story on that in case you missed it). I know they had more important things to attend to than helping me out, but they did so with good humor and overwhelming grace.

And that was just the staff members whose names I learned. Everyone was simply wonderful, from the ushers to the vendors to those keeping the stadium running to Manager Ed Romero. And, of course, talking to the Tri-City super fans who I have interacted with on twitter and by email was a great deal of fun as well.

And The Joe itself is a very nice ballpark. The exterior is quite attractive, the outfield trees and landscaping give it a park-like feel and there's nothing quite like watching the sun set behind Adrian Houser on the mound.

I'm always interested in seeing how the players interact, who the cheerleaders are on the team and other such peripheral details. I didn't get a really good feel for many of the players because so many of them are brand new to me, but I did get this much ~

Zach Morton and Chan Moon are the clowns on the team. You can't stay in a bad mood around either of them. Unfortunately, I did not get video myself of Moon doing Gangnam Style, but I saw the video and it was an inspiring performance!

Zach Morton

Mike Martinez and Luis Alvarez appear to be the cheerleaders, the guys who keep the dugout loose and get people pumped up (or at least they were trying very hard to do so).

Mike Martinez and Luis Alvarez

And Thomas Lindauer can seriously crush sunflower seeds. He puts them away. Actually, there may need to be an intervention at some point because I think he may actually be a sunflower seed addict.

Who stood out on the field? Michael Feliz impressed me to no end. He was routinely hitting mid-90's with his fastball and he made it look effortless. Several other pitchers looked great as well, including Andrew Thurman, Adrian Houser and Kyle Westwood. I hardly recognized Houser; he has really filled out and is definitely not a teenager anymore. Everyone was solid defensively, but I saw some excellent plays from Tony Kemp, Ronnie Mitchell and James Ramsay in particular. Offensively, they were a bit inconsistent in the games I saw and no one really stood out for me except I can say that Mike Martinez can seriously crush a ball when he gets a hold of one and Tony Kemp is blazingly fast on the basepaths.

Seeing Vince Coleman work with the outfielders the last day was a special treat. I hope to post some video on that at some point. In addition, I will have interviews with Tony Kemp, Ronnie Mitchell and Andrew Thurman coming out, but I'm going to try not to kill myself on vacation so those may not come out until next week.

If you're going to auction off jerseys for charity (American Cancer Society), why not make them attractive? I probably would have bid on one, but I didn't see the point since I would have to keep it in a lead-lined box away from my retinas.

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One final observation. As I was waiting on the field for the game to begin, trying to get some candid player photos, I glanced into the dugout and saw a very hot and very tired looking Southpaw resting in a chair with his head in his lap. I could have taken a photo and totally outed Southpaw, but that isn't my style. The mystery of Southpaw shall remain a mystery. But it occurred to me that the man inside the mascot costume must really love baseball and people and just being around the game in order to put on that hot, most likely smelly, costume in mid-90's heat and humidity and go out and bust his tail to entertain people. But even Southpaw needs to take a break.

Similarly, as much as I love baseball and people and being around the game, I am metaphorically taking off my head for the rest of the week and getting out of the sun and the heat and the humidity and the stinky clothes. I will still bring you recaps and birthdays and tweets of the day, but this blogger is taking a much needed vacation to recharge and reinvigorate before I put the head back on and go out and try to entertain you for the rest of the season. Thank you for your indulgence. If you need me, I'll be sitting on this porch in the middle of nowhere, contemplating my navel.

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Thanks again to Chris Chenes in particular for making my trip very enjoyable and very memorable.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Oklahoma City over Round Rock 5-0
Nothing like a complete game one-hit shutout to get people talking about you and that is precisely what Asher Wojciechowski did on Monday. He didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and walked one, but faced the minimum number of batters due to two double plays. Robbie Grossman was two-for-four with two RBI and a run; and Marwin Gonzalez was one-for-five with a double and three RBI.

Corpus Christi over Tulsa 4-2
Bobby Doran (4H 2BB 2SO) allowed two runs via the long ball in his six innings of work. Carlos Quevedo worked two-thirds scoreless before giving way to Pat Urckfitz for one and a third perfect frames. Jorge de Leon pitched a clean ninth to earn his third save. The Hooks put their first run on the board in the third by way of a Max Stassi home run, and then added two more in the sixth on a two-run Preston Tucker home run. Tucker enjoyed that so much he added a solo shot in the ninth just for grins.

High Desert over Lancaster 7-3
Starter Tyson Perez allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. T.J. Geith gave up the final run as he worked the final two innings at High Desert. M.P. Cokinos and Brandon Meredith each singled in a run in the fourth as did Andrew Aplin (2x4 2B RBI R) in the fifth, but after that, the bats remained mostly quiet. The best opportunity to score again came via a lead-off double from Matt Duffy in the ninth, but he was left on second. Joe Sclafani was two-for-three with a walk.

Quad Cities at Kane County - Cancelled

Tri-City over Aberdeen 2-1 in 12 innings
Randall Fant got the start and allowed four hits over five scoreless innings while striking out two. Zach Morton followed, allowing the only Aberdeen run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts over his four innings. Richard Rodriguez pitched all the extras with panache, one hit and eight strikeouts over three innings, for the win. Tony Kemp got four of the nine Tri-City hits, but Ryan Dineen got the most important hit, a 12th inning homer to give the 'Cats the win.

Greeneville over Kingsport 3-2
Sebastian Kessay gave up one hit and one run (a solo home run) in two and two-thirds innings while striking out three and was followed by two and a third scoreless from Christian Garcia. Austin Chrismon then gave up the second Kingsport run on three hits in his two innings, and J.D. Osborne pitched the final two in fine fashion, allowing only two hits and striking out five batters swinging to earn his fifth save. Of course, he did have a hit batter and a wild pitch, but let's focus on the five strikeouts. Greeneville drew early blood with a first inning two-run home run from Chase McDonald. In the third Brett Phillips added another run on as he doubled and scored on a Tanner Mathis (2x3) single.

GCL Astros over GCL Braves 13-1
Joe Bircher looked good in his latest rehab outing, going five shutout innings with six hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Javier Lozano gave up the only run of the game, an unearned run in the sixth and was followed by more shutout innings from Chris Munnelly and Kevin Ferguson. The GCL Astros pounded out 15 hits, four doubles (including a three-run double from Luis de la Rosa), a triple (Javaris Reynolds), a home run (Jacob Nottingham's first, a two-run dinger), and seven walks. Luis Reynoso (4x6 2B 2R), Tyler White (2x3 2B 2RBI 2R), and Jean Batista (3x4 2B 2RBI 2R) had particularly good outings.

DSL Astros over DSL Red Sox 4-3
Five pitchers combined for the Astros, but Junior Garcia got the bulk of the work, entering the game in the second inning and pitching four and two-thirds scoreless innings for the win. He allowed only one hit and struck out three. Angel Heredia got the final two outs of the game to earn his sixth save of the season. The Astros only got six hits, including doubles from Luis Payano and Hector Roa, but they made them count.

Player of the Day: Despite some very good performances in the GCL, I will have to go with Preston Tucker's two home run, three RBI performance.

Pitcher of the Day: Hmmmm. Who should I pick? Yeah, let's go with Asher Wojciechowski's amazing bid for a September (or earlier) call up. Nicely done, sir!

Happy Birthday - 7/9

RHP John Neely (23)
The Sugarland native was drafted in 2012 out of Texas Tech in the 30th round. In 28 appearances out of the bullpen for Quad Cities this season, he has a 3.82 ERA and a 1.848 WHIP with 12 saves.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

SS Sonny Jackson (69)
Jackson was signed by the Colt .45's as an amateur free agent in 1963 and played for Houston from 1963 to 1967. He only made a handful of appearances from 1963 through 1965. He came in second in Rookie of the Year voting to Tommy Helms in 1966 when he hit .292/.341/.334 and led the league with 160 singles (out of his 174 hits).

Tweet of the Day

David Rollins
Anybody that can pee on a bus going through hills in Cali can do anything

Monday, July 8, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Games

Oklahoma City at New Orleans - Postponed

Corpus Christi over Tulsa 5-0
I will resist the urge to sing this, but my Sweet Nicky [that would be Nick Tropeano to the rest of you] appears to be back in good form as he tossed six shutout innings (3H 1BB 6SO) in his return from the DL to earn the win. Kenny Long (1.1IP 1H 2BB 1SO) continued the shutout and Andrew Robinson put an exclamation point on it with one and a third perfect frames. Robinson hasn't allowed a run since the All-Star break and has a 1.35 ERA and a 1.050 WHIP over his last 10 games. He has walked four over that span while striking out 11. The Hooks got all the runs they needed plus one in the first inning, but added on three more with long balls from Erick Castro (10) in the third, Kike Hernandez (6) in the seventh and Jonathan Meyer (11) in the eighth. Meyer and Hernandez were both two-for-four.

Lancaster over High Desert 10-2
Brady Rodger's first non-tandem start went very well as he allowed only one run on a solo homer over six innings. He gave up eight hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out five. Cameron Lamb pitched the final three innings for his first save. Lancaster scored early and often. Tyler Heineman was the only starter who didn't make it into the hit column. Too much action with the bats to recap it all so here you go ~

Lancaster JetHawks
Nolan FontanaSS421000022.281
Carlos Perdomo3B422010220.270
Andrew AplinCF511001212.287
MP Cokinos1B411100101.353
Joe Sclafani2B502000101.329
Matt DuffyDH412000011.306
Tyler HeinemanC410000000.259
Brandon MeredithLF401010210.260
Chris EppsRF523200100.303
Quad Cities over Kane County 12-5
Colton Cain allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out six in his five and one-third innings of work. Gera Sanchez (1.1IP 3H 1R 1SO), Mitch Lambson (1.1IP 1H 1SO) and Chia-Jen Lo with one perfect inning finished it off. The two through five hole hitters (Jordan Scott, Dan Gulbransen, Jesse Wierzbicki and Rio Ruiz) combined to go 10-for-24 with five doubles, one home run, one walk, one stolen base, six RBI and scored seven runs. And that doesn't even include the guy who hit his second home run and second grand slam of the season, Brian Blasik. Or Roberto Pena who also hit a home run and drove in two. Wow!

Aberdeen over Tri-City 3-1
The good news is that Kyle Westwood (5IP 1H 1BB 3SO) looked really, really, really good in his fourth appearance of the season. After seeing him work today, I will definitely be keeping a closer eye on him. He works quickly, wears high socks and throws strikes ... what's not to like? He's not a power pitcher but his command more than makes up for it. The bad news is that the bullpen, in the form of Chris Cotton and Andrew Walter, couldn't hold the very fragile 1-0 lead he gave them. The offense only managed four hits and only one extra base hit, a double from Jon Kemmer (1x2 2B 2BB). Chan Moon and D'Andre Toney each swiped a bag.

Kingsport over Greeneville 3-0 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Enderson Franco was charged with the loss as he allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over three innings. He was followed by two scoreless innings from Krishawn Holley (1H 1BB 2SO) and an inning in which Ryan Connolly allowed one unearned run and struck out two. The Greeneville nine only managed two hits in the game, a Darwin Rivera single and a double from Brett Phillips; however, they did manage four walks.

Kingsport over Greeneville 4-1 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Edison Frias (5IP 6H 4R/2ER 0BB 5SO HR) took the loss and was followed by a perfect inning from Tyler Brunnemann in which he struck out two. Once again, the bats were mostly silent as the Astros only had five hits in this one. The good news is that Chase McDonald hit his first home run of the season to at least get Greeneville on the board. Cristian Moronta was two-for-two with a double.

Players of the Day: Chris Epps doesn't get nearly enough attention so let's rectify that, shall we? In addition to going three-for-five with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored in Sunday's game, he has hit .361/.489/.750 in his last 10 games. He's a lefty bat who has always hit lefty pitching well and this season is no exception. He is currently hitting .356/.408/.667 against lefties for the season. Chris will have to share the honors with Rio Ruiz who went three-for-four with a walk, double, home run, two RBI, and he crossed home plate three times as well. He is hitting .364/.476/.667 over his last 10 games. Honorable mention goes to Brian Blaisk for the granny.

Pitcher of the Day: Nick Tropeano makes me want to burst into song once again with his great return from the DL so I think I will. "Hey, Nicky, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind. Hey, Nicky! Hey, Nicky!" Seriously, wonderful start from Nick. I hope he builds on it.

Happy Birthday - 7/8

2B Yoel Silfa (20)
A NDFA from the Dominican Republic, Silfa is in his second season with the GCL Astros. In six games this season, he is hitting .222/.273/.222.

Several former Astros with birthdays today as well ~

C Alan Ashby (62)
Originally drafted by Cleveland in the third round in 1969, Ashby came to Houston via a November 1978 trade with Toronto. He spent 11 seasons with Houston, hitting .252/.324/.374 in 965 games from 1979 to 1989. Ashby caught three no-hitters during his tenure with the Astros, one by Ken Forsch, one by Nolan Ryan and the legendary Mike Scott 1986 NL West Division clinching no-hitter. I understand that Ashby is currently announcing Astros games on CSN Houston, but since I have DirecTV, I cannot verify that that is the case.

OF Terry Puhl (57)
The native of Saskachewan province in Canada was signed as an amateur free agent by Houston in 1973 and played all but 15 games of his 15 major league seasons as an Astro. From 1977 to 1990, Puhl played in 1516 games, hitting .281/.349/.389 with 502 walks to 505 strikeouts. At the time of retirement in 1991, he was the career leader in fielding percentage for an outfielder. Puhl earned one All-Star nod in 1978.

OF Al Spangler (80)
Spangler was drafted by Houston in the 1961 expansion draft from the Milwaukee Braves. He played for the Colt .45's and the Astros from 1962 to 1965. In 422 games, he hit .265/.347.361 before being traded to the Angels in June of 1965.

RHP Gary Kroll (72)
Obtained from the Mets in a January 1966 trade, Kroll made ten relief appearances for Houston before being traded to Cleveland in July 1967. In 23.2 innings, he had a 3.80 ERA and a 1.563 WHIP.

RHP George Culver (70)
Obtained in a trade with the Cardinals in June 1970, Culver pitched 136 games out of the bullpen for Houston from 1970 to 1972. His record with the Astros was 14-13 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.296 WHIP.

MGR Salty Parker (died July 27, 1992 at 80)
Salty Parker has the distinction of having a 1.000 win percentage as the Manager for the Houston Astros. Of course, he was only the Manager for one game. Parker took over for one game on August 26, 1972. He was preceded by Harry Walker and followed by Leo Durocher.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson
There's always a reason to be happy. Don't allow others bring you down or let you down.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Saturday's Games

Bristol White Sox 1, Greeneville Astros 3
Greeneville shut out their opponents after the third inning to be able to pull ahead and win this game to take the series at home. Starting pitcher Frederick Tiburcio went five innings on the mound and allowed one run on five hits, walked two and struck out six. Jordan Mills (1-1) tallied his first win of the season after pitching the next three and a third, allowing three hits and striking out a trio. Brain Holberton was the only Greeneville player with multiple hits, going two-for-three with a run scored, walk and a strikeout.

GCL Blue Jays 8, GCL Astros 3 –completion from 7/6/13
This GCL Astros scored a run in each of the first three innings and after that point were shutout, collecting just three singles and a walk. Zachary Dando (0-1) entered in the fourth and pitched two outs into the fifth to record his first loss and blown save. Dando faced four batters in the fourth, walking one before being charged with five runs on four hits and a walk in the fifth. Yonathan Mejia went two-for-four at the plate with a double and a strikeout. Jean Batista went one-for-four, hitting his first triple of the season while striking out twice.

GCL Astros 2, GCL Blue Jays 7 (7)
The GCL Astros tried to creep back into this one, but ultimately fell for the second time on Saturday. Samil De Los Santos (1-2) took the loss after working the first three innings, allowing four runs on six hits, walking one and striking out a pair. The Astros had just one extra-base hit in this game and it was recorded by the same player who knocked in both runs, Yonathan Mejia (1X2 2B 2RBI). Mejia hit a sac’ fly in the fourth for his team’s first run of the game and doubled in the sixth to score another.

DSL Astros 1, DSL Red Sox 0 
The DSL Astros were out hit 4-7 in this game and it didn’t matter. They shut out their opponents after missing their last two games due to weather. Rayderson Chevalier (3-1) took the mound first and after five innings of work, was in line for the win, allowing just two hits and a walk as he struck out three over that time.  Marlon Avea collected half of the Astros hits, going two-for three at the plate. Randy Cesar (1X4 RBI SO) knocked in the game’s only run in the fourth with a single, scoring Alexander Melendez (0X3 R), who reached on a throwing error earlier in the inning.

Lowell Spinners 4, Tri-City Valley Cats 3
The Valley Cats were shutting out their opponents Saturday before allowing four runs via a grand slam in the ninth inning to turn the table. Andrew Thurman pitched the first four innings and retired the first nine batters he faced in order before allowing a hit, the only hit of his shift. Thurman also walked one and struck out the same. The ninth inning saw three different pitchers for Tri-City and they combined to load the bases before the last, Patrick Christensen (1-1), gave up a grand slam to the first batter he faced. Christensen ended up with the blown save (1) and the loss, striking out the last two batters he faced. Anthony Kemp (3X5 RBI) and Ryan Dineen (3X4 RBI SO) both had three hit games. Michael Martinez went two-for-four, walked once, struck out twice and clubbed a two-out solo shot in the fifth inning.

Quad Cities River Bandits 5, Kane County Cougars 0
The River Bandits three-hit shut out their opponents to end their losing streak in style on Saturday. Starting pitcher Mike Hauschild (6-1) picked up the win after going seven innings, allowing all three hits and striking out two to face just two over the minimum. Austin “Catfish” Elkins didn’t have any hits in the game (0X1), but scored a couple of runs and stole a pair of bases thanks to drawing three walks. Dan Gulbransen (2X4 R 3B) Teoscar Hernandez (2X5 R RBI 2SO), and Jobduan Moralez (2X3 2B RBI BB) all had two hit performances.

Lancaster JetHawks 8, Inland Empire 66ers 10
The JetHawks were behind eight runs before they scored one of their own, Saturday and it proved too steep of a hill to climb. Aaron West (6-5) had a rough outing, making it two outs into the first before leaving the game, recording five runs (2ER) on five hits and striking out one. West was charged with the loss. Joe Sclafani (2X5 2R HR RBI) put Lancaster on the board in the fourth with a solo-homer to lead off the inning. Matt Duffy (1X5 R HR 3BI 2SO) closed the gap in the seventh with a three-run shot of his own. M.P. Cokinos (3X4 2R RBI BB SO) and Carlos Perdomo (3X4 R 2B RBI) added three hits apiece to the JetHawks effort.

Corpus Christi Hooks 4, Tulsa Drillers 2
A three-run rally in the ninth brought the Hooks back to take this win on the road. The ninth-inning rally started when birthday boy, Preston Tucker knocked in two runs with a big-time, two-out triple. Tucker scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch two batters later. Tucker also put the Hooks first run on the board in the second with a two-out, solo home run. Preston Tucker finished two-for four at the plate with two runs scored, a triple, homer and three RBI. David Martinez started on the mound and pitched five and two thirds innings, allowing a run on eight hits, walked one and struck out two. Pat Urckfitz (4-3) picked up the win after working the eighth and keeping it perfect. Jorge De Leon did the same in the ninth and earned his second save.

Oklahoma City RedHawks 6, New Orleans Zephyrs 5
The RedHawks mounted a comeback of their own Saturday to win this game in the ninth frame on a home run by Carlos Perez (1X4 R HR RBI). George Springer (2X4 2R 2HR 3BI SO) hit two homers in the game, a two-run shot in the first and a solo shot in the fourth. Springer was the only RedHawk with multiple hits in the game. Jarred Cosart threw the first five and a third innings allowing all five opposing runs on seven hits (HR), walking one and striking out three. Oklahoma City’s pitchers kept it scoreless and hitless after Cosart left the game and Jason Stoffel (3-0) picked up the win after facing two batters and retiring them both (SO) to finish the eighth. Josh Zeid recorded his 10th save after working the ninth, facing four batters, walking one and K-ing two.

Player of the Day: Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Preston Tucker certainly did on Saturday. On his 23rd birthday he helped the Hooks to a win by either scoring or knocking in every run they tallied.

Pitcher of the Day: Mike Hauschild was on the mound for seven of Quad Cities’ shutout innings Saturday and earns a nod today.