April 2012

Astros-Mets preview

  • The Astros and Mets each came into the National League in the expansion of 1962. Since then, the Astros have arguably enjoyed more regular-season success, though only the Mets have won world titles.

Category                                Mets         Astros

Wins (regular season)          3,824           3,952

Postseasons                                7                 9

First Place                                    5                 6

World Championships                  2                 0

Head-to-head wins                   256             304

  • The Astros are drawing over a walk more per game this season than they did in 2011. Last year, they were last in the league at 2.5 walks per game. So far this season, they’re seventh at 3.6 walks per game.
  • Right-handed hitting third baseman Chris Johnson has demonstrated a reverse platoon split through the season’s first month. He enters Monday hitting .333 against right-handers (23-for-69) and .067 against left-handers (1-for-15).
  • After going 3-for-5 on Sunday, Jose Altuve’s .373 batting average ranks among the best ever by any Astros player through the team’s first 22 games. The only higher averages through 22 games are Cesar Cedeno in 1972 (.375), Joe Morgan in 1966 (.375), Billy Hatcher in 1987 (.391) and Derek Bell in 1998 (.402).
  • It’s been five days since Bud Norris pitched last Tuesday. Unlike 2011, when he fared much better on only four days of rest, Norris’ early returns in 2012 when working on longer rest have been more positive. He’s 1-1 with an 8.49 ERA on four days of rest and 0-0 with a 3.46 ERA on five days of rest.

The Astros through 19 games

The Astros snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Brewers with a 7-5 win Wednesday in Milwaukee. Here are some post-game notes:

  • Jose Altuve went 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, setting a career high in hits. He went 8-for-13 (.615) in the series against Milwaukee with a homer, two RBIs and five runs scored and leads all Major League second baseman with a .377 batting average and is tied for first in the NL with 10 multi-hit games (Matt Kemp also has 10).
  • J.D. Martinez tied a season high with three RBIs and went 3-for-4 at the plate. He also walked to improve his on-base percentage to .432. He’s slugging .507 for an OPS of .937. Martinez has walked 14 times in 81 plate appearances.
  • Jordan Schafer has reached base safely in all 19 games to start the season, which is the longest stretch by an Astros player at the start of a season since Ricky Gutierrez had a 23-game run in 1998. He has reached base exactly one time in six of his last seven games.
  • At 7-12, the Astros have the same record through 19 games as they did last year, but they have been much more competitive. Through 19 games last year, the Astros had been outscored 99-80 and outhit 186-169. This year through 19 games, they’ve outscored opponents 89-81 and outhit them 176-169. They have committed six more errors (19-13) through 19 games than they did last year.
  • Here are some more comparisons through 19 games: .262 average/.318 on-base percentage/.376 slugging percentage with nine homers and 74 RBIs through 19 games in 2011. .262/.338/.379 with 11 homers and 84 RBIs through 19 games this year. Their team ERA has improved to 3.96 this year from 4.63 at this point last year.

Astros lineup Wednesday vs. Brewers

Lineups for Wednesday’s game between Astros and Brewers (12:10 p.m. CT start):

ASTROS

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Chris Snyder

P J.A. Happ

BREWERS

2B Rickie Weeks

CF Carlos Gomez

LF Ryan Braun

3B Aramis Ramirez

RF Corey Hart

SS Alex Gonzalez

C Jonathan Lucroy

1B Travis Ishikawa

P Shaun Marcum

Norris takes up for his teammates

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks was hit in the back by Bud Norris on his first pitch of Tuesday’s game in apparent retaliation for the Brewers’ Mat Gamel flattening Astros catcher Jason Castro at home plate on Monday. Norris said the pitch simply got away from him, but hinted it wasn’t on accident

“It kind of got away from me,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and stand up for my team. I think the umpires handled it professionally, our team handled it professionally and Rickie handled it professionally as well. Nothing personal against him. It is what it is.”

Castro and Gamel were was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, but Astros manager Brad Mills said Castro wasn’t scheduled to play anyway and, other than a sore neck, Castro was feeling fine.

Mills said Gamel would have had a good shot at being safe had he slid and said he didn’t have to bowl over Castro, who was knocked back and hit the back of his head off the ground and held onto the ball for a double play to end the sixth inning. He stayed in the game.

“My first thought was he must have the plate blocked and then I found out he didn’t have the plate blocked and I said, ‘C’mon, man,’” Mills said. “It was a situation he was trying to knock the ball loose, but I thought Jason did a great job.”

Veteran catcher Chris Snyder said it’s important for catchers to expose the plate to the runner to avoid violent collisions that occurred Monday.

“At this level, more times than no you see guys that know what they’re doing and the catcher is going to give them the plate,” Snyder said. “You see what’s happened over the year with guys getting concussions on both sides of it and what happened to [San Francisco’s Buster] Posey last year. It’s a reaction.”

Snyder said collisions are a lot more common in the Minor Leagues, where young players are for the first time able to collide with the catcher in an effort to knock the ball loose.

“I got lit up quite a bit in the Minor Leagues because there you have kids just out of high school and college and there have been rules against it and they’re just excited to be able to finally do it and they don’t know how to do it,” he said.

When asked specifically about Gamel’s leveling of Castro, Snyder thought it was unnecessary.

“I didn’t like it,” he said. “He had the plate. It’s a 6-2 ballgame. I didn’t like it.”

Astros try to snap 9-game losing streak to Brewers

The Astros will try to snap a nine-game losing streak at the hands of the Brewers when the teams meet in the first of a three-game series tonight at Miller Park. This is Houston’s first game of the season against a division foe.

Before we get to the lineup, here are some pre-series notes:

  • Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell will be making just his ninth career start tonight. In his previous eight starts Harrell has struggled in the first inning, but has calmed down thereafter. He has a career ERA of 11.25 in first innings and 2.23 in the second inning and beyond.
  • The Brewers’ nine-game winning streak over the Astros is tied for the second-longest active winning streak over an opponent in the Majors. The Tigers have beaten the Indians 10 games in a row, which is the longest current streak in Majors.
  • The Astros have used the home run to score less than 25 percent of their runs this year, which is the fourth-lowest total in the Majors. Only the Phillies (16.3), Cubs (16.9) and Mariners (21.7) have used the home run for a fewer percentage than their runs than the Astros.
  • Astros CF Jordan Schafer has reached base safely in 16 consecutive games, which is the fourth-longest current streak in the Majors. Only Lance Berkman (31), Carlos Santana (21) and Torii Hunter (19) have longer streaks, dating to last season.
  • Ryan Braun has dominated the Astros in his career, hitting .345 (98-for-284) against Houston. The only player who has worn out a club more with a minimum of 300 plate appearances is Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who’s hitting .346 against the Indians and .348 against the Royals.
  • Nine of Brewers outfielder’s Corey Hart’s 13 hits this season have been for extra bases, the highest percentage in the Majors.
  • Zack Greinke’s team has posted a win in each of his last 19 starts at home (which includes 17 home starts with the Brewers). That is the second-longest streak since 1921

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

2B Jose Altuve

RHP Lucas Harrell

Astros try it again against Dodgers

The Astros, who have lost nine of their 11 games, will send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound on Sunday to face the Dodgers, who are going for the sweep. Rodriguez has pitched well this season but is 0-2 in three starts. He has a 0.96 ERA.

Here is the Astros lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

2B Jose Altuve

P Wandy Rodriguez

 

Astros return home to face Dodgers

The Astros (5-8) send J.A. Happ to the mound tonight at Minute Maid Park to face the Dodgers. Here is the lineup:

ASTROS

CF Justin Maxwell

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brian Bogusevic

C Chris Snyder

LHP J.A. Happ

Check out this pregame notes:

  • The Dodgers have won four in a row against the Astros, who have scored a total of one run in those four games with only 17 hits (The Astros had 17 hits on Thursday against the Nationals). The Dodgers have outscored the Astros, 15-1, in their last four meetings.
  • The Dodgers have outscored their opponents, 14-3 in the first inning this year, which continued a trend from last year. The Dodgers’ plus-48 run differential in all of last season and the first two weeks of this year is the largest in the Majors.
  • The Dodgers are 8-1 when scoring first this year.
  • The Astros have lost six games in which they’ve blown a lead this year, which is tied with the Cubs for the most in the Majors.
  • Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has been on fire the first two weeks of the season, hitting .348. That’s the highest batting average for players in the Majors whose primary position is second base.
  • Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are the third pair of teammates in the live-ball era to each collect 18-plus RBIs in their team’s first 13 games. What bodes very well for Ethier and the Dodgers is that half of his RBI have come off left-handed pitching; he had just 13 RBIs off southpaws all season in 2011 and his ninth (and 10th) did not come until June 28.
  • Since returning from the Minor Leagues last year, J.A. Happ is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA. He was 4-14 with a 6.26 ERA in 22 last year prior to getting sent to Triple-A.
  • Dodgers starter Ted Lilly is 7-3 lifetime versus the Astros — though he has not beaten them since Sept. 2, 2009 — and only three active starters have a lower career ERA against them — Adam Wainwright (1.56), Jake Peavy (2.31) and Chris Carpenter (2.62).
  • Carlos Lee has 54 career plate appearances against Lilly, most among active players, and Lilly has never struck him out; that is the most times that any active hitter has faced any active pitcher without being fanned.

Buck optimistic about hamstring injury

Travis Buck’s string of consecutive starts likely came to an end at three Wednesday after he left a game against the Nationals in the fourth inning with a mild left hamstring strain. He’s listed as day to day.

Buck, starting in left field in place of J.D. Martinez, injured the hamstring while hitting an RBI grounder to first base in the fourth inning. He went to the outfield to play defense between innings, but came back to the dugout when he decided he couldn’t go.

“It’s pretty cold tonight and I felt loose during the whole game,” he said. “It just happened right when I swung before I even got out of the box. I just felt it tighten and put an awkward swing and just tried to run it out. Fortunately enough we scored a run out of it.”

Buck said the hamstring is the same one that’s given him problems throughout his career. He said he strained it pretty seriously last year and only missed six days, and that this strain isn’t anywhere as bad as the one he had last season.

“It’s just the nature of the game,” he said. “I want to go out there and continue to play but you’ve got to be smart enough. You don’t want to make it a DL issue or something bigger than it really is. I’m hoping to take it day by day but I should be back sooner rather than later.”

Mills discusses lineup

Here’s what Mills had to say about Wednesday’s lineup, which was sans J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve

“We had talked about giving some guys the day off and getting a lot of left-handers in there tonight,” Mills said. “J.D. had a big series in Miami and had a couple of good at-bats last night, but it’s a good day to get him a day off and get Buck some type of consistent at-bats and get Bogey back in there. We need to get Gonzy back in there. He played the first few games for us and we need to get him back in there.”

Here’s the lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer (L)

SS Jed Lowrie (S)

LF Travis Buck (L)

1B Carlos Lee (R)

RF Brian Bogusevic (L)

3B Chris Johnson (R)

C Jason Castro (L)

2B Marwin Gonzalez (S)

RHP Lucass Harrell (R)

 

 

 

Wandy tries to get Astros on track

The Astros, who have lost four out of five games, will send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound tonight against the Nationals. Rodriguez (0-1, 2.38 ERA) lost to the Braves at home five days earlier after pitching 6 1/3 innings on Opening Day without allowing an earned run. The Astros have made four errors in each of his two starts.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Justin Maxwell

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

RF Travis Buck

C Chris Snyder

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

NATIONALS

SS Ian Desmond

2B Danny Espinosa

3B Ryan Zimmerman

CF Jayson Werth

1B Adam LaRoche

RF Mark DeRosa

LF Xavier Nady

C Jesus Flores

LHP Gio Gonzalez

Here’s a few notes:

  • The Nationals are 21-7 since last Sept. 11, which is the second-best record in baseball in that span behind the Rangers (22-4).
  • The Nationals enter Tuesday having only allowed two home runs, the fewest in the Majors.
  • After hitting four home runs in the first two games of the season, the Astros have suffered a power outage lately, hitting three homers in their last seven games.
  • The Astros’ .339 on-base percentage entering Tuesday is the third-highest in the NL, but their 77 runners left on base is second-most in all of baseball. Which team has stranded the most runners on base this year? The Nationals with 90.
  • Entering Tuesday, J.D. Martinez was tied for third in the NL in average (.371), tied for fourth in total bases (25), sixth in slugging percentage (.714) and sixth in OPS (1.150).
  • Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer has scored eight runs from the lead-off spot this year, which is tied for the third-most in the Majors. Ian Kinsler has scored 11 and Austin Jackson has scored 10.
  • Whether pitching for Boston or Houston, Kyle Weiland has always pitched much better on the road than at home. He’s 0-3 with a 10.26 ERA in his career at home and 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA on the road. I know, it’s a small sample, but interesting nonetheless.

http://brianmctaggart.mlblogs.com/2012/04/17/wandy-tries-to-get-astros-on-track/

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers