August 2011

Astros’ lineup for Tuesday vs. Pirates

Here is the Astros’ lineup for Tuesday’s game vs. Pittsburgh:

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

P Henry Sosa

Astros’ lineup and preview vs. Giants

This is it. Game 7. Well, it’s about as much drama as the Astros can have these days, entering Sunday’s series finale against the Giants with a chance to win the season series from the defending World Series champions.

The Astros won two out of three in Houston last weekend, and the Giants have won two out of three in this series, including a walk-off win in the 10th on Saturday night.

Sunday will be a dream come true for Astros starter Bud Norris.

Norris, who grew up in the Bay Area, will make his first Major League start in San Francisco against the Giants in Sunday’s series finale. Norris has never faced the Giants in his two years in the Majors.

“I’m excited to play against my childhood team, which should be interesting,” he said. “But like any other day, I’m going to go out there and do my job and go pitch.”

Norris remembers going to games back when the Giants played at Candlestick Park. Norris has been doing his hometown of Greenbrae, Calif., proud this season in an otherwise rough one for the Astros. Norris has a 3.73 ERA, with a 6-8 record.

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

SS Angel Sanchez

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

2B Matt Downs

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Jimmy Paredes

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Bud Norris

Astros’ lineup Saturday vs. Giants

The Astros can clinch the season series against the Giants with a win on either Saturday or Sunday. They’ll send Brett Myers to the mound, with the right-hander trying to snap a personal seven-game losing streak. Here is the Astros’ lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Jason Michaels

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Brett Myers

Happ, Astros try to continue winning ways against Giants

J.A. Happ, who was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City Wednesday to take Jordan Lyles’ spot in the rotation as the Astros try to limit Lyles’ innings, will make his first start in the Majors since Aug. 5 when he faces the Giants tonight at 9:15 p.m. CT.

Happ (4-14, 6.26 ERA) went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in a three-game stint with the RedHawks, holding opponents to a .177 batting average. He also threw seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball his last time out.

Happ will try to carry that momentum into Friday’s start.

“I was definitely trying to build off each outing. The last one was the best, as far as getting deeper into the game and getting a pitch count that’s manageable and getting early outs,” Happ said. “That was my main focus, making sure one of the first two pitches was a strike and trying to get early outs.”

More than anything, Happ said his time in the Minors allowed him to clear his mind in the wake of his struggles with the Astros.

“I think the fact there was way too much negativity going on through my head definitely didn’t help,” he said. “I’m getting past that, getting over that and trying to be positive.”

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

RF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Matt Downs

2B Jose Altuve

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

LHP J.A. Happ

 

Astros preview vs. Giants

Greetings from AT&T Park, where the Astros try to snap their losing streak against the defending NL champion Giants tonight. Henry Sosa, the former Giants farm hand, is on the mound for the Astros. Before we get to the lineup, here are some notes:

  • Giants starters are 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA in their last six home games against the Astros.
  • Since Aug. 16, the Astros are averaging 5.5 runs per game, which is fifth in the Majors in that span. Prior to that, they were averaging 3.75 runs per game, which was 27th.
  • Henry Sosa’s opponents have a .400 batting average on pitches 1-30. They are hitting .196 against him after pitch 30.
  • J.D. Martinez’s 22 RBIs since July 31 are the most in the Majors by any rookie

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Henry Sosa

Rodriguez likely to stay in Houston

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Wednesday afternoon he expects left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who was claimed on waivers by the Rockies on Tuesday, will remain in Houston, which means any trade with Colorado is unlikely.

“I can’t make predictions,” Wade said. “I don’t predict what could happen, but my gut tells me at this point there’s no reason to believe that Wandy will be pitching anywhere than wherever we’re playing in five days, which is Houston.”

The Astros have until Thursday afternoon to work out a deal to send Rodriguez to the Rockies, allow the Rockies to take him in a $20,000 waiver claim or pull him back off waivers, which appears to be the direction the club is headed. Wade has a policy not to discuss waivers or trade talks.

Rodriguez started for the Astros on Wednesday afternoon against the Rockies at Coors Field, one day after telling reporters his agent informed he had been claimed by the Rockies. Wade has said he puts every player on waivers at some point, but Rodriguez drew strong interesting prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline and could have been traded to any team had he cleared waivers.

Rodriguez has pitched well this season – he’s 9-9 with a 3.31 ERA for a team that’s 44 games under .500 – but he’s owed a hefty owed $36 million after this season.

Rodriguez is due the remainder of his $7 million he’s owed in 2011, plus $10 million in 2012 and $13 million in 13. There’s a $13 million option for 2014 that becomes a player option of the player’s contract changes hands.

Wandy claimed, so now what?

We know that Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies aren’t a contender by any stretch, so their motives behind claiming Rodriguez are a little fuzzy. Maybe they wanted to block him from going to Arizona for the next three years, or maybe they actually have interest in adding him a month after trading away Ubaldo Jimenez.

Whatever the case, the Astros and Rockies have 48 hours — until noon CT Thursday — to resolve the situation. At this point, three things can happen:

1. The Astros and Rockies can work out a trade.

2. The Astros can simply give Rodriguez (and his contract) to the Rockies in exchange for a $20,000 waiver claim.

3. The Astros, either unable or unwilling to work out a trade, can pull Rodriguez off waivers, which would mean he’d remain with the Astros for the rest of the season.

The most likely scenario is the Astros wind up keeping Rodriguez. They had difficulty trading him prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in part because of the $36 million he would be owed after this year if he switches teams. The Astros would likely be asked to take on some of that money.

Unless the Astros get blown away in a trade offer from the Rockies, they would probably just to hold onto him until the offseason and try to deal him again. Of course, they might be so eager to free up more payroll that they could simply give Rodriguez to the Rockies, making Colorado responsible for the rest of his contract. That’s a risk the Rockies took.

Interestingly, Rodriguez pitches against the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon in Denver, so they will get an up-close look at Rodriguez, who’s had a pretty good year (9-9, 3.31 ERA) on a team that’s 44 games under .500. We’ll know by Thursday afternoon if he’s going to remain with the Astros for the rest of the year or will be wearing a Rockies uniform.

Schafer’s return clogs center field picture

Jordan Schafer, the lone Major League player the Astros got in last month’s trades with the Giants, Phillies and Braves (pitcher Henry Sosa has since made his Major League debut) will be activated from the disabled list today and will likely in the starting lineup for his Astros debut when the Astros open a three-game series at Colorado tonight.

Schafer injured his finger sliding into a base on July 20, while he was still with the Braves, and went 10-for-20 in five games during his Minor League rehab at Oklahoma City. Once the top prospect in the Braves system, Schafer has a career .223 average in 577 Major League at-bats. He doesn’t have much power (three home runs), but he certainly can run and cover ground in center field. He has 17 steals in 102 games.

The debut of Schafer probably means less playing time for Jason Bourgeois, who had a terrific first half when he was healthy. Bourgeois took over in center when Michael Bourn was sent to the Braves on July 31 and he’s batting .155 (9-for-58) in 16 games since. He stole two bases on the day Bourn was traded, but hasn’t had a stolen base in August.

If Bourgeois had been posting the kinds of numbers he did in the first half, manager Brad Mills would have a tough decision. Perhaps Bourgeois is better fitted for a reserve role, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Having Bourgeois available to pinch run late in a game will be a huge weapon. J.B. Shuck has also seen time in center recently, but he’ll likely split time in right field with Jason Michaels (against left-handers) and Brian Bogusevic (against right-handers).

Needless to say, the Astros are eager to see what Schafer can do.

Lyles moved to bullpen, sent to OKC

In an effort to limit the number of innings thrown by rookie starter Jordan Lyles, the Astros on Sunday said they would option him to Triple-A Oklahoma City and pitch him out of the bullpen for the rest of the year.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said the plan is for Lyles to be called up when rosters expand on Sept. 1 and continue to have him perform in a relief role the remainder of the season. The team hasn’t said who will take Lyles’ spot in the rotation.

“No one ever wants to go down, even if it’s for however long,” Lyles said. “If they feel it’s the best for the organization, I’m going to go with it.”

Wade, manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Doug Brocail have talked at length about the best way to limit the 20-year-old right-hander to no more than 170 innings. The move to send Lyles was done in an anticipation of outfielder Jordan Schafer being activated from the disabled list Monday.

Lyles picked up his second Major League win by beating the Giants on Saturday, allowing two unearned runs in five innings. He’s thrown a combined 148 2/3 innings this year between Oklahoma City (59 innings) and the Major Leagues (89 2/3).

“We told him this is not a demotion,” Wade said. “This is a plan we put together to handle what we feel are his best interests and our best interests. We still see him as a starter. I told him this is a conversation we usually have at the end of the year with a guy, but he’s done a good job. He certainly handled himself very, very well for a guy at his age and handled every challenge we put in front of him.”

Schafer, acquired from the Braves on July 31 in the trade for Michael Bourn, has yet to appear in a game for Houston. He’s been on the disabled list since July 20 with a left middle finger joint injury and was scheduled to play his final Triple-A rehab game on Sunday. He was 5-for-5 with two stolen bases for the RedHawks on Saturday.

Astros’ lineup Sunday vs. Giants

The Astros will try to win their fifth consecutive game, which would be a season high, in an attempt to sweep the defending World Series champion Giants today at Minute Maid Park. Henry Sosa, acquired from the Giants last month in the Jeff Keppinger deal, wills start for the Astros and face left-hander Dan Runzler (1-2, 6.64 ERA).

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint Barmes

RF Jason Michaels

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Henry Sosa

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