April 2013

Pena on Boston situation: ‘It makes me angry’

The manhunt that had the city of Boston on lockdown for much of Friday hit close to home for Astros first baseman Carlos Pena, whose sisters and parents are in the city and on lockdown.

Police are searching door-to-door for the second of two suspects in Monday’s deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon after one suspect was killed late Thursday in a firefight with police. Boston residents are being ordered to shelter in place.

Pena, who lived part of his childhood in Boston and attended Northeastern University, said his parents are in town from Florida visiting his sister, who has an apartment in the Boston area.

“They’re calm, they’re inside, they’re not going anywhere,” Pena said. “They’re trusting the fact it will be taken care, and sooner or later we’ll have this guy in custody.”

Pena has watched the events unfold since Monday’s bombing with disbelief.

“It’s something that’s very unfortunate what’s going on,” he said. “Sometimes you have this helpless feeling that you wish you could do more. It’s very maddening at the same time and it makes me angry to think that would happen and I just wish I could do more. At the same time, I trust the authorities. They’re unbelievable. They’re doing all they can to neutralize the situation and diffuse the danger.”

Pena admitted it was upsetting seeing the streets shut down, streets he walked nearly every day while he was going to school in the area.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “It’s almost like a movie, you know? But I also understand there is some real danger there and they are taking the precautions necessary, and hopefully sooner or later we’ll know more about the situation. It’s kind of nerve-wracking. I get this helpless feeling that there’s nothing I can do. I have my family members locked inside the apartment because they can’t move.”

Astros battle Indians, Myers at Minute Maid

The Astros will reunite with old friend Brett Myers tonight at Minute Maid Park in the first game of a three-game series against the Indians, who have lost four in a row as they hit Houston. The Astros, who have lost five in a row, are 10-8 all-time against the Indians, including 7-5 in Houston, but this is the first meeting between the teams as American League foes. Lucas Harrell starts for the Astros.

Here are the lineups:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Justin Maxwell

C Jason Castro

DH Chris Carter

1B Carlos Pena

LF J.D. Martinez

RF Rick Ankiel

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Marwin Gonzalez

RHP Lucas Harrell

Maxwell enjoys hitting behind Altuve

Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell loves hitting behind Jose Altuve, like he did for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday.

“For me, it makes me get ready on deck,” he said. “He’s not playing around when he gets up there. He’s coming to swing the stick. It helps me because I can’t be lethargic on my approach. He always keeps me on edge because it could be the first pitch of the at-bat when he gets a hit or the seventh or eighth pitch. He does a really good job, he’s got a great approach, and I try to mimic him in batting practice.”

Altuve entered Saturday hitting .364 with five multi-hit games. He ranked tied for fifth in the American League with 16 hits and tied for sixth in multi-hit games, and had reached base in nine of the Astros’ first 10 games this year.

The 6-foot-5 athletic Maxwell can only marvel at what the 5-foot-6 Altuve has accomplished.

“I think the first time I ever heard his name was when I was rehabbing from shoulder surgery [in 2011], and I just happened to check MiLB.com to see what was going on in the Minor Leagues, and I see this Altuve guy is hitting .380 in Double-A,” Maxwell said. “I clicked on his numbers, and now it’s kind of weird I’m playing with him now. He’s got incredible hand-eye coordination. Any time he takes a swing, he puts the barrel on the ball. He’s fast, too, so he gets a lot of infield hits and he’s got power.”

Astros lineup Saturday vs. Angels

Astros lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Justin Maxwell

C Jason Castro

LF Chris Carter

DH Carlos Pena

RF J.D. Martinez

1B Brett Wallace

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Marwin Gonzalez

RHP Lucas Harrell

Twitter alive after Astros win

On the Astros’ bus ride to the hotel following the win over the Angels on Friday, Twitter was alive…

Day in photos: Astros prepare for Angels

Here are some photos from Friday’s pregame in Anaheim:

0412 037

Carlos Pena

0412 036

Bo Porter signs.

0412 034

Jose Altuve flips a baseball to a fan.

0412 035

Jason Castro signs.

0412 033

Jose Altuve signs.

0412 032

Geoff Blum is still popular with fans. Here he flips an autographed card back.

0412 030

Carlos Pena and Rick Ankiel

0412 029

High knees for Altuve

0412 028

Matt Dominguez, Justin Maxwell and Jason Castro warm up.

0412 027

Marwin Gonzalez signs.

0412 025

Bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy and Albert Pujols.

0412 024

Bo Porter and Mike Scioscia

0412 023

Bo Porter pretends to interview CSN Houston’s Julia Morales.

0412 022

Dennis Martinez and Mike Scioscia, who was with the Dodgers when El Presidente tossed his perfect game against them in 1991.

Astros open series tonight against Angels

The Astros will try for their third win in a row tonight when they make their first trip to Angels Stadium as a member of the American League West, taking on the struggling, high-dollar Angels. They’ll send Bud Norris, who struggled on the road last year, to the mound in the series opener Friday night. Be sure to follow all the action on GameDay.

For the Astros, it will be their first look at Mike Trout, the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year, and will mark a reunion with nemesis Albert Pujols, the former Cardinals player who is a career .311 hitter with 32 RBIs and 112 RBIs in his career against Houston.

This weekend’s matchups mark just the third series between the two franchises and the first since the 2007 season. In the previous two matchups, both teams won their home series 2-1, which included a three-gamer in Anaheim in 2007 and a three-gamer in Houston in 2004.

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Justin Maxwell

C Jason Castro

DH Chris Carter

1B Carlos Pena

LF J.D. Martinez

RF Rick Ankiel

3B Matt Domginuez

SS Marwin Gonzalez.

Porter gives Wallace the day off

Astros manager Bo Porter gave struggling first baseman Brett Wallace the day off Wednesday after he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts during the team’s 22-hit outburst on Tuesday. Wallace is 1-for-21 this season with 17 strikeouts.

“Sometimes you need to take a step back,” Porter said. “You can be trying so hard with extra work and video and reading game reports and over-analyzing each and every at-bat to where you probably need to take a step back. We’re going to give him the day off, we have an off day on Thursday, and Friday send him back in there. I think the results are going to be in a more positive light for Brett.”

Wallace singled in his second at-bat of the season March 31 against the Rangers, but has gone 0-for-19 since with 16 strikeouts.

“I think the thing that’s kind of crazy is swing-wise, I feel pretty good and my swing feels like it’s not that far off,” he said. “It’s just timing and contact point adjustments that need to be made. I think that’s one of the things you just have to keep your head down and keep working, and the more at-bats you get, you see the ball travel and let it get a little deeper and go from there.”

Lineups for Astros-Mariners

The Astros will try to win their first series of the season tonight at Safeco Field. Coming off a smashing offensive performance Tuesday in which they posted 16 runs and 22 hits in a 16-9 win, the Astros will send right-hander Brad Peacock to the mound in his second start of the season. Be sure to follow along with GameDay for all the stats and play-by-play.

A win tonight would give the Astros their first series win of the season and their third consecutive series win over the Mariners (also, 2007, 2004).

The Astros offense Tuesday night produced many franchise team notes:
• 22 hits: last, 8/3/10 at STL (22H)
• 16 runs: last, 8/3/10 at STL (18R)
• 5 homers: last, 9/16/09 at CIN (5HR)
• 40 total bases: last, 9/9/00 at CHC (44TB)
• 6 runs in inning: last, 9/10/11 at WSH (3rd, 6R)
• 6 runs in 1st inning: last, 8/30/08 vs. STL (8R)
• 7 hits in inning: last, 9/10/11 at WSH (3rd, 7H)
• 7 hits in 1st inning: last, 7/19/10 at CHC (7H)

There were also several Astros set or tied their career highs:
• Altuve ties career high w/ 4 hits (6/5/12 vs. STL)
• Altuve records career high 4 RBI
• Carter records career high 4 hits
• Carter ties career high w/ 3 RBI (7/25/12 at TOR)
• Carter records career high 2 HR
• Gonzalez ties career high w/ 3 hits (4/29/12 vs. PIT)

Here are the lineups:

April 10, 2013 – Safeco Field (9:10 p.m.)

Seattle Mariners (4-5)


Houston Astros (2-6)


Player Pos.  


Player Pos.


Michael Saunders (L) RF


Jose Altuve 2B


Franklin Gutierrez CF


Justin Maxwell CF


Kendrys Morales (S) DH


Jason Castro (L) C


Raul Ibañez (L) LF


Chris Carter DH


Kyle Seager (L) 3B


Carlos Peña (L) 1B


Justin Smoak (S) 1B


J.D. Martinez LF


Dustin Ackley (L) 2B


Rick Ankiel (L) RF


Kelly Shoppach C


Matt Dominguez 3B


Brendan Ryan SS


Marwin Gonzalez (S) SS

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher


Blake Beavan RHP


Brad Peacock RHP

Mallee says Astros have to be more selective

John Mallee, Houston’s first-year hitting coach, said the hitters were more patient during Spring Training than they have been in the first week of the regular season.

“We had a pretty good Opening Night, but our strikeouts are up and I think it’s because we’re chasing a lot early in the count,” Mallee said. “We’re trying to be more selective now and get better pitches to drive early in the count. I think in the spring we did a really good job of being a little more patient, being ready to hit from the first pitch on, but being selective enough to watch for a pitch we can drive. I think we’re getting a little anxious to try to swing our way out of it and started expanding the zone.”

The Astros have lost six games in a row following an Opening Night win over the Rangers, including three by shutout, and are hitting .188 in that span. They’ve struck out 82 times in seven games, whiffing 13 or more five times a game.

“They’re really good hitters, and sometimes we start to press a little bit,” Mallee said. “We haven’t scored a lot of runs and we try to create those runs by being ultra aggressive. So we need to tone it back a little bit and try to get a better pitch to hit. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to attack early in the count, it’s just making sure we’re attacking the right pitches early in the count.”