Recapping a wild night at Wrigley
The Astros’ 100th game of the season was anything but ordinary. They lost Roy Oswalt to a lower back strain in the second inning and watched relievers Wesley Wright and Jeff Fulchino each give up three runs in relief. Thanks to 17 hits and big games from Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Tejada, they still thumped the Cubs, 11-6.
The win moved them to within 2 1/2 games of first place, which is now occupied by St. Louis. The Cubs are one-half back and the Astros are in third place with two games remaining at Wrigley before moving onto Busch Stadium.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that went on Tuesday with the Astros:
— RHP LaTroy Hawkins was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game with shingles, which has been causing back pain. Hawkins is a mess. He can barely stand up and can’t sit at all, which means he’s doing a lot of laying on his back.
— RHP Doug Brocail was activated from the disabled list to take Hawkins’ spot on the roster. Brocail, who hasn’t pitched since May 4 because of a right hamstring strain, made four of his six scheduled Minor League rehab starts before having his stint cut short at Double-A Corpus Christi. He will join the team in Chicago on Wednesday.
— LHP Wesley Wright was taken to the hospital following Tuesday’s game with possible appendicitis. Wright pitched 2 1/3 innings after Roy Oswalt left the game (more on that below) and had a crisp inning before walking five batters and giving up three runs in one inning. No word on his condition.
— RHP Roy Oswalt will fly home to Houston on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s game after 1 2/3 innings with a strained left lower back. He said the back bothered him slightly in his previous start five days earlier against St. Louis and it flared up again in the bullpen two days later. Oswalt was on the DL in 2006 with a mid-back sparin and last year with a left hip abductor strain. An MRI of Oswalt’s back taken last July showed a small disc protrusion.
— RHP Jeff Fulchino and LHP Wesley Wright each picked up their first Major League hits. Wright singled to left in his first Major League plate appearance, becoming the Astros pitcher to do that since Brad Lidge in 2002. Fulchino also got a ball stuck in his jersey on a ball hit by Kosuke Fukudome.
— 2B Jeff Keppinger started in place of Kaz Matsui and had four hits. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready so see Keppinger play more than Matsui. Money aside, Keppinger is just a better hitter. He started and succeeded Tuesday and wasn’t facing a lefty, which is how he’s been used so often.Keppinger is hitting .283 with a .362 on-base percentage, and Matsui is hitting .244 with a .300 on-base percentage.
— RHP Bud Norris, the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Astros’ system by Baseball America, was called up following Tuesday’s game and will join the team Wednesday. Norris said he was charting pitches in stands during Round Rock’s game in Memphis, Tenn., when the clubhouse attendant fetched him and told him trainer Mike Freer wanted to see him. Freer told him to pack his bags for Chicago.
Norris is a starter, but could be used as a reliever. There are questions surrounding the health of both Roy Oswalt (back) and Wesley Wright (possible appendicitis), so Norris’ role is yet to be determined. He was 4-9 with a 2.63 ERA in 19 starts for the Express.