April 2013

Martinez in lineup, ready to move forward

Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was pulled from Monday’s game following his fourth inning at-bat by manager Bo Porter, was back in the lineup Tuesday against the Mariners, starting in right field. Martinez was pulled for what he deemed  a “mental mistake,” and the outfielder said he and the manager had a good talk.

Martinez swung at the first pitch in his fourth inning at-bat and popped out, perhaps chasing a pitch out of the strike zone.

“Like I said yesterday to you guys, I understood the situation and we talked about it and put it behind us,” Martinez said. “We still have a lot more games left to play and it’s behind us and we’re ready to move forward. Today’s a new day.

“We settled it and [Porter] said, ‘You’re back in there today because it’s behind us. Time to move forward.'”

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

“I feel like there’s a little bit of tension in the room,” Martinez said. “You want to win, you want everything perfect. I think it’s just go out there and play baseball, play for each other. They always say, ‘Play for the guy behind you,’ just going out there and enjoying it and having fun and getting the pressure and monkey off our backs.”

Martinez said one good game on offense could get the Astros rolling.

“Every game starts off great and then one things leads to another and then before you know it we have that pressure right back on us again,” he said. “Once we get that pressure off, we’re going to see this team start rolling because now everybody knows the guy behind you is going to pick you up. Now you don’t have that pressure on yourself. You can play and hit and do what you have to do.”

Astros try to snap 6-game streak against Mariners

The Astros will send former Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard to the mound tonight at 9:10 p.m. CT to try to break their six-game losing streak. Seattle starts right-hander Brandon Maurer. Here’s manager Bo Porter’s lineup, which includes the return of J.D. Martinez. He started in left field Monday but was pulled in the seventh inning by Porter for what Martinez called a “mental error.”

Seattle Mariners (4-4)

 

Houston Astros (1-6)

No.

Player Pos.  

No.

Player Pos.

21

Franklin Gutierrez CF  

27

Jose Altuve 2B

55

Michael Saunders (L) RF  

44

Justin Maxwell CF

8

Kendrys Morales (S) DH  

15

Jason Castro (L) C

38

Michael Morse LF  

23

Chris Carter LF

17

Justin Smoak (S) 1B  

12

Carlos Peña (L) DH

63

Jesus Montero C  

14

J.D. Martinez RF

13

Dustin Ackley (L) 2B  

29

Brett Wallace (L) 1B

3

Robert Andino 3B  

30

Matt Dominguez 3B

26

Brendan Ryan SS  

9

Marwin Gonzalez (S) SS

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher

37

Brandon Maurer RHP  

45

Erik Bedard LHP

 

News and notes:

  • Astros starters have performed well this season and have limited the competition to three earned runs or fewer in six of the club’s seven games. RHP Philip Humber leads the staff in inning pitched (11 2/3) and ERA (3.09), RHP Bud Norris leads the club in strikeouts (nine), while RHP Brad Peacock has allowed just a .188 opponent’s batting average this season.
  • Astros starting pitchers have received a win or a loss in all seven games this season. The last time Astros starters received a decision in at least the club’s first seven games of a season was in 1989, when Mike Scott, Bob Knepper, Jim Deshaies, Rick Rhoden and Jim Clancy each received a decision in the first eight games of that season.

Porter yanks Martinez for ‘mental mistake’

Astros manager Bo Porter pulled starting left-fielder J.D. Martinez in the middle of the fourth inning Monday night for what Martinez later admitted to be a mental mistake during his at-bat in the top of the inning, a pop out to second base.

Porter was asked following the Astros’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners if Martinez, who was hitting clean-up for the first time this year, had been injured, and he told reporters to ask Martinez what happened.

“That was a manager’s decision,” Porter said. “You go ask him why he didn’t finish the game. I’m actually interested in what he’s going to tell you.”

Martinez admitted to making a mistake during the at-bat, but wouldn’t go much beyond that. He swung at a first-pitch fastball from Joe Saunders and popped out after striking out looking in the first inning. Designated hitter Chris Carter swung at the first pitch the at-bat prior to Martinez, too.

“From a baseball standpoint, I made a mistake today,” Martinez said. “I had a mental error going up to the plate and was totally my fault. I understand everything what Bo did, taking me out and everything. I hold nothing against him in that sense because what I did was unacceptable and it was just a mental mistake that will never happen again.”

Martinez hinted went against the approach that was discussed at the hitter’s meeting prior to the game.

“It was just something going up to the plate, our plan and everything,” he said. “I got caught in the moment and really didn’t take a step back. The game was moving quick and I totally slipped, and I take full responsibility for it.”

Martinez has no problem with how Porter handled the situation.

“I completely get it,” he said. “I don’t want it to come off as me being selfish and not being about the team. That’s not what my intentions were. You just get caught up in the game sometimes and you want to go up there and you want to hit so bad and your plan sometimes just flies out the window.”

Humber returns to Safeco Field

Greetings from Seattle, where it’s gray and cold and there’s a Starbucks on nearly every corner. Welcome to life in the American League West.

The Astros make their first trip to Safeco Field as a member of the AL when they begin a three-game series against the Mariners beginning at 9:10 p.m. CT tonight. Philip Humber starts for Houston, which marks his first time on the mound at Safeco since he threw a perfect game there for the White Sox nearly a year ago.

Earlier today, the Astros made a roster move when they placed pitcher Josh Fields on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain and called up right-hander Paul Clemens from Triple-A Oklahoma City for his Major League debut.

April 8, 2013 – Safeco Field (9:10 p.m.)

Seattle Mariners (3-4)

 

Houston Astros (1-5)

No.

Player Pos.  

No.

Player Pos.

55

Michael Saunders (L) RF

27

Jose Altuve 2B

21

Franklin Gutierrez CF

44

Justin Maxwell CF

8

Kendrys Morales (S) DH

23

Chris Carter DH

38

Michael Morse LF

14

J.D. Martinez LF

15

Kyle Seager (L) 3B

12

Carlos Peña (L) 1B

17

Justin Smoak (S) 1B

30

Matt Dominguez 3B

63

Jesus Montero C

15

Jason Castro (L) C

13

Dustin Ackley (L) 2B

2

Brandon Barnes RF

26

Brendan Ryan SS

13

Ronny Cedeño SS

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher

23

Joe Saunders LHP

59

Philip Humber RHP

Fields to DL, Clemens called up

The Astros placed right-handed pitcher Josh Fields on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a right forearm strain and recalled right-hander Paul Clemens from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Fields’ stint on the disabled list is retroactive to April 4.

Clemens, who will wear No. 56, joined the team in Seattle, where the Astros will open a three-game series against the Mariners. He made one start this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowing seven hits and three earned runs Friday at Memphis.

Clemens has been a starter for much of his career, and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the front office is split on whether his future is in the rotation or the bullpen. But he pitched in relief during Spring Training and performed well, striking out the side against Washington on March 7.

“That’s one of the reasons he got the call and not [Jordan] Lyles,” Luhnow said. “He’s been able to do the relief thing very well in Spring Training because he’s got absolutely dominant, powerful stuff. This is an opportunity for him to come up while Fields is out and show us what he can do in a big league bullpen. It doesn’t mean he won’t go back to being a starter, but right now, given the role we need, he’s the right guy and he deserves it.”

Fields was taken by the Astros with the No. 1 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft last December and has appeared in two games, recording one out both Tuesday and Wednesday against the Rangers. Luhnow doesn’t think Fields will be on the shelf too long.

“During the spring, we cautiously brought him along and he felt just a little something after his second outing [Wednesday],” he said. “We were hoping it would go away, but it hasn’t and we don’t expect it to be anything significant, but I feel like it’s better to take some time off and rehab.”

Fields is the second Astros pitcher to go on the disabled list in three days. The club placed newly acquired left-hander Travis Blackley on the disabled list Saturday with a left shoulder strain, just two days after he was acquired in a trade with Oakland.

Clemens was one of four players acquired by the Astros from the Braves in 2011 in exchange for outfielder Michael Bourn.  The team also acquired right-handed pitcher Juan Abreu, left-hander Brett Oberholtzer and outfielder Jordan Schafer in exchange for Bourn, but only Clemens and Oberholtzer remain in the organization.

Astros-A’s set to battle at Minute Maid

The Astros play host to the Oakland A’s this weekend at Minute Maid Park for only the second time in history. The team are now in the same division, but both sides have a handful of players who are very familiar with the opposition. Brad Peacock is on the mound for the Astros, facing his former team in his first action since 2011. Astros starting pitchers have a 2.08 ERA in the team’s first three games.

The Astros made some news today:

  • The team designated right-handed pitcher Edgar Gonzalez for assignment to clear a roster spot for newly-acquired left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley, general manager Jeff Luhnow announced today. Blackley, whom was acquired from the Oakland Athletics yesterday, will be with the Astros for tonight’s game and will wear No. 54. He was 6-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 28 games, including 15 starts, with San Francisco (4 games) and Oakland (24 games) last season. Gonzalez, who has been with the Astros since last season, did not appear in the first three games of the 2013 season. The Astros 40-man roster is now at 40.
  • Luhnow also announced today that right-handed pitcher Alex White will undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) on his right elbow next week. White left his last start on Friday (March 29) vs. the Cubs after experiencing discomfort in his right elbow.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

2B Jose Altuve

1B Brett Wallace

LF Chris Carter

DH Carlos Pena

CF Justin Maxwell

RF Rick Ankiel

C Jason Castro

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Marwin Gonzalez

RHP Brad Peacock

ATHLETICS

CF Coco Crisp

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Josh Reddick

LF Yoenis Cespedes

DH Seth Smith

C John Jason

3B Josh Donaldson

2B Eric Sogard

1B Nate Freiman

RHP Dan Straily

Astros add to bullpen depth with Blackley

Left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley was sent to the Astros from the Oakland A’s on Thursday in exchange for Triple-A outfielder Jake Goebbert. Blackley, who was designated for assignment six days ago, will be in uniform for the Astros when they open a three-game series against the A’s on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Blackley will be used in long relief.

“He’s a left-handed long man, which is something we’ve been trying to figure out how to work into our roster,” Luhnow said. “He had a lot of success as a starter and we believe that will translate well into our bullpen. We did have our scouts see him this spring and there was a long list of players that became available as the season started when everybody cut down to 25 [players]. He was at the top of our list, and we made a few phone calls and got it done.”

Blackley played a key role in the A’s run to the AL West title in 2012, going 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA. He struck out 69 batters and walked 30 in 102 2/3 innings. The southpaw has pitched over 1,100 innings in the Minors.

The Astros will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster on Friday, but Luhnow said adding Blackley gives them more flexibility.

“There’s some good lineups we’re going to be facing with left-handed hitters, and four of our five rotation guys are right-handed, so if you follow them up with a left-handed long man, it gives you a platoon advantage that’s nice to have,” he said. “He’s been effective against lefties and righties.”

Blackley has held right-handers to a .269 batting average and left-handers to a .243 batting average in his career, which has included stops in Seattle and San Francisco. He’s one of three Astros players who played for the A’s organization last year, joining starting pitcher Brad Peacock and outfielder Chris Carter.

Peacock and Carter came to Houston two months ago in the trade that sent Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland. <p>

Goebbert, a 13th-round Draft pick from Northwestern in 2009, spent the majority of the 2012 season in Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .304 with a .399 on-base percentage. The 25-year-old has 176 walks to 262 strikeouts in more than 1,500 Minor League at-bats.

Astros get right back to work against Rangers

Astros manager Bo Porter said the great thing about baseball is you can have a short-term memory. Only hours after Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish retired the first 26 batters he faced and had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth on a single by Marwin Gonzalez on Tuesday night, the Astros will meet the Rangers at 1:05 p.m. today in the series finale.

“The beautiful thing that I love about baseball is every 24 hours you get an opportunity to either keep your momentum going or change what happened the day before,” he said. “That’s the great thing about our game, and that’s why you have to stay even-keeled more so than any other sports because it’s every day. You don’t to get too high, you don’t want to get too low. You want to report to the park each and every day with a great attitude that gives you an opportunity to perform at a high level.”

  • In other Astros news, RHP Alex White has come to terms with the fact he could be headed to Tommy John surgery. White, who’s on the 60-day disabled list with a sprained elbow, is awaiting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. “We have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen and we’re just waiting for Andrews to take a look and make a decision for us,” he said. “I’ve gotten used to the idea, and it’s going to be a long process getting back to the field. It will be day to day and even if it’s just a sprain, it’s still going to take me a while to get back.”

Here’s the lineups for Wednesday’s series finale:

ASTROS

2B Jose Altuve

1B Brett Wallace

DH Carlos Pena

LF Chris Carter

C Jason Castro

CF Justin Maxwell

RF Rick Ankiel

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Ronny Cedeno

RHP Philip Humber

RANGERS

2B Ian Kinsler

SS Elvis Andrus

DH Lance Berkman

3B Adrian Beltre

LF David Murphy

RF Nelson Cruz

C A.J. Pierzynski

1B Mitch Moreland

CF Leonys Martin

RHP Alexi Ogando

Astros lineup vs. Rangers

Here is Tuesday’s Astros lineup against the Rangers (you can follow the game here):

2B Jose Altuve

3B Brett Wallace

1B Carlos Pena

LF Chris Carter

RF Rick Ankiel

CF Justin Maxwell

DH Jason Castro

C Carlos Corporan

SS Marwin Gonzalez

RHP Lucas Harrell

Astros set Minor League rosters

The Astros on Monday released the roster for their four full-season clubs. As expected, 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa is starting in Class A Quad Cities, which is a big jump for a kid who was in high school in Puerto Rico at this time last year.

Other notable assignments:  Pitchers Travis Ballew and Aaron West, catcher Tyler Heinemann and outfielder Preston Tucker are all jumping low A and going to high Class A Lancaster. Outfielder Austin Wates and pitchers Jason Stoffel and Ross Seaton are repeating a level at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Here are the rosters:

TRIPLE-A OKLAHOMA CITY

Pitchers – Kevin Chapman, Jose Cisnero, Paul Clemens, Jarred Cosart, John Ely, C.J. Fick, Dallas Keuchel, Jordan Lyles, Wes Musick, Brett Oberholtzer, Rudy Owens, Jose Valdez, Josh Zeid.

Catchers – Cody Clark, Jason Jaramillo, Chris Wallace.

Infielders – Jake Elmore, Marc Krauss, Brandon Laird, Jose Martinez, Jonathan Villar.

Outfielders – Trevor Crowe, Jake Goebbert, Robbie Grossman, Che-Hsuan Lin, Jimmy Paredes.

DOUBLE-A CORPUS CHRISTI

Pitchers – Ruben Alaniz, Jake Buchanan, Jorge De Leon, Bobby Doran, Mat Heidenreich, David Martinez, Andrew Robinson, Ross Seaton, Alex Sogard, Jason Stoffel, Nick Tropeano, Pat Urckfitz, Asher Wojciechowski.

Catchers – Rene Garcia, Ryan McCurdy, Carlos Perez.

Infielders – Eric Castro, Enrique Hernandez, Jonathan Meyer, Jio Mier, Ben Orloff.

Outfielders – Michael Burgess, Domingo Santana, George Springer, Austin Wates.

CLASS A LANCASTER

Pitchers – Travis Ballew, Luis Cruz, Chris Devenski, Jonas Dufek, Mike Foltynewicz, Theron Geith, Alex Gillingham, Tyson Perez, Carlos Quevedo, Brady Rodgers, David Rollins, Tommy Shirley, Blair Walters, Aaron West.

Catchers – M.P. Cokinos, Tyler Heineman.

Infielders – Delino DeShields Jr., Matt Duffy, Nolan Fontana, Zach Johnson, Raoul Torrez, Rafael Valenzuela.

Outfielders – Andrew Aplin, Chris Epps, Brandon Meredith, Andrew Muren, Preston Tucker.

CLASS A QUAD CITIES

Pitchers – Joe Bircher, Colton Cain, Kyle Hallock, Mike Hauschild, Brian Holmes, Jordan Jankowski, Cam Lamb, Mitchell Lambson, Lance McCullers, Daniel Minor, John Neely, Gera Sanchez, Vincent Velasquez.

Catchers – Jobduan Morales, Roberto Pena.

Infielders – Carlos Correa, Chase Davidson, Ryan Dineed, Carlos Perdomo, Rio Ruiz, Joe Sclafani, Jesse Wierzbicki.

Outfielders – Teoscar Hernandez, Terrell Joyce, Ariel Ovando, Jordan Scott.

 

 

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