June 2012

Martinez called up by Astros, Buck to DL

The Astros placed outfielder Travis Buck on the 15-day disabled prior to Saturday’s game against the Reds and called up outfielder Fernando Martinez from Triple-A Oklahoma City, general manager Jeff Luhnow said. Martinez was expected to be in uniform for the game.

Buck hit .216 in 33 games with the Astros and hasn’t been available to play for a couple of days because of an injury to his right heel, which had him in a protective boot on Friday.

Martinez, considered one of baseball’s top prospects from 2006-10, was claimed off waivers by the Astros in January. He was batting .319 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 51 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City, with a .374 on-base percentage and .532 slugging percentage. Like Buck, he’s a left-handed hitter.

Martinez, 23, spent the majority of the 2011 season at Triple-A Buffalo, but did have a brief stint with the Mets. In 63 games with Buffalo, he hit .260 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs. He hit .227 in 11 games for the Mets with a home run, which came May 13 at Minute Maid Park off Astros pitcher Bud Norris.

Martinez also had brief stints with the Mets during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, appearing in a combined 36 games in that span. He has a .274 career average in six Minor League seasons after being signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent in 2005 at 16 years old.

Astros send Happ to mound to try to stop skid

The Astros send J.A. Happ to the mound on Friday night at Minute Maid Park against the Reds to try to snap a six-game losing streak, which is their longest of the season. Here is Houston’s lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

SS Jed Lowrie

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

RF Brian Bogusevic

LF J.D. Martinez

C Chris Snyder

P J.A. Happ

Here are the pitching match-ups for the weekend:

Friday: LHP J.A. Happ (4-4, 4.37) vs. RHP Mike Leake (1-5, 5.47)
Saturday: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.49) vs. RHP Mat Latos (4-2, 4.58)
Sunday:TBA vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-3, 3.59)

Here are some pre-series tidbits:

  • Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie has swung the bat well with the bases empty this season, but he’s struggling in some key spots. He’s hitting .313 with bases empty, .243 with runners on, .204 with runners in scoring position and .105 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
  • Astros left-fielder Carlos Lee has seen over 200 plate appearances this season, but he’s struck out only 10 times. That’s one strikeout for every 20.3 plate appearances, which is the best ratio in the league.
  • Astros starter J.A. Happ has held opponents to a .166 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs (second-lowest among active starting pitchers with a minimum of 200 opposing at-bats and 50 career starts), .211 with runners in scoring position, .247 with runners on base and .259 with the bases empty.
  • The Reds had the fourth-lowest staff ERA in the Majors in the month of May at 3.29, trailing the Angels (2.99), Rays (3.14) and Dodgers (3.25).
  • The Astros got very good pitching at home in the month of May, but not so much on the road. Houston arms were 11-5 with a 2.76 ERA at home and 2-10 with a 5.10 ERA on the road in the month of May.
  • Both the Reds and Astros saw dramatic increases in their power output in May. The Astros hit 14 homers in April and 26 in May, and the Reds hit 19 homers in April and 34 in May. The Astros’ 26 homers in May were the most for the team in a single month since hitting 26 in July, 2010.
  • The Reds are 33-16 against the Astros since 2009, out-homering Houston, 60-37, in that span. Houston starters have a 5.18 ERA in that span against the Reds, compared to 3.08 ERA by Reds starters.
  • Reds first baseman Joey Votto is hitting .355 in his career against the Astros, which is the third-highest average against Houston in the Astros’ franchise history (minimum 200 plate appearances). Kenny Lofton hit .373 and Bake McBride hit .361.

Astros lineup Friday vs. Reds

Here is the Astros lineup for Friday’s game:
CF Schafer
2B Altuve
SS Lowrie
1B Lee
3B Johnson
RF Bogusevic
LF Martinez
C Snyder
P Happ