Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

Schafer returns as Astros battle Cubs

The Astros try to make it two in a row over the Cubs tonight at Minute Maid Park. Here is the Astros’ lineup, which includes the return of Jordan Schafer:

2B Jose Altuve

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Justin Maxwell

1B Carlos Lee

LF J.D. Martinez

3B Chris Johnson

C Chris Snyder

CF Jordan Schafer

LHP J.A. Happ

Astros open series against Cubs

The Astros, who lost two of three games to the Texas Rangers over the weekend, will give the ball to Bud Norris to night in the first game of a three-game series against the Cubs at Minute Maid Park. Matt Garza will pitch for Chicago.

Here are some pre-series tidbits:

  • Houston lost, 6-1, to the Rangers on Sunday and has now scored one or fewer runs six times already this month – tied for most in the majors. Despite their 18-23 record, the Astros have outscored opponents 167-164 overall in 2012.
  • The Cubs and Astros are meeting for the first time of the season. Chicago and Houston met six times at Minute Maid Park in 2011 and each club won three of those contests.
  • The Astros have won their last eight games in which they have scored four or more runs. That’s the third active longest winning streak among teams that have scored four or more runs in consecutive victories.
  • Astros starters have pitched at least five innings in each of their last 34 games, which is the second-longest streak in the Majors this year (Padres have gone 35 games in a row).
  • The Cubs have recorded a double in each of their 17 road games this season. That’s the team’s second-longest streak (2000) since 1921.
  • Cubs outfielder Bryan LaHair is one of two players accounting for more than a third of his team’s home runs this year. LaHair has 10 of the Cubs’ 29 homers (34.5 percent), which trails only Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who has hit 12 of the Dodgers’ 33 home runs (36.4 percent).
  • Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro will be playing in his 325th  career game and is just two hits away from reaching 400 for his career, putting him in some elite company in recent years. Since 1980, the only players to reach 400 hits in 325 or fewer games are Alex Rodriguez (325), Wade Boggs (324), Hanley Ramirez (317), Kirby Puckett (310), Nomar Garciaparra (302) and Ichiro Suzuki (268).
  • Starlin Castro has a 10-game hitting streak at Minute Maid Park, the second-longest active streak by any visiting player (Joey Votto, 18).
  • Cubs starter Matt Garza has been nearly impossible to hit this season with two strikes. He’s holding opponents to a 0.99 batting average with two strikes this year.
  • Astros starter Bud Norris has a 0.47 ERA in May after posting a 5.46 ERA in April, which is a 4.99 improvement. The only player who has improved more from April to May is Seattle’s Hector Noesi (8.83 ERA to 3.46 ERA).
  • The Cubs were shut out for the first time this season, 6-0, by the White Sox on Sunday and have now lost six straight games for the second time in 2012 (also April 14-20). The only two National League clubs that have not been blanked at least once this season are San Francisco and Arizona.
  • Matt Garza is 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his last four starts and will be facing the Astros for the fifth time in his career tonight (0-2, 3.00 ERA in first four outings). Garza is 5-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 17 road starts since joining the Cubs in 2011.
  • Bud Norris is 3-0 in May and is looking to record a victory in four straight starts for the first time in his career tonight. Norris (2-2, 2.31 ERA in four career starts vs. Cubs) has a 0.47 ERA this month – best of any pitcher in the majors with at least two starts in May.
  • Astros first baseman Carlos Lee went 1-for-3 on Sunday and is now batting .341 (28-for-82) since April 23 overall. Lee has 38 career homers vs. the Cubs – third most of any active player (Pujols – 53, Dunn – 43).

Quirk leaving for the Cubs

Jamie Quirk, who has spent the last two seasons as Astros bullpen coach, is leaving the team to become bench coach for the Chicago Cubs under new manager Dale Sveum.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” Quirk said. “When Dale Sveum was interviewing, he asked me if I’d be interested if he gets any of the jobs and he got the Cubs. I talked with [Cubs general manager] Theo [Epstein] and passed that test and called [former Astros general manager] Ed [Wade] for permission and all that. I was excited.

“It’s the Cubbies. Who wouldn’t watch that job? They have a very famous tradition in baseball, and it will be nice to be part of turning it around.”

The appeal of the Cubs was one factor, but Quirk is eager for a chance to get back on the bench and stay more involved in the game. Most of the work he did during the season as bullpen coach was done in pre-game meetings, and he worked in the bullpen during games.

“Pretty much, once the game started I was out of it,” Quirk said. “I was looking forward to the opportunity to get back in the dugout and having more one-on-one with the manager and feeling like you’re actually helping rather than sitting back and watching. I’ve done it many years before, and I kind of missed it.” <p>

Astros manager Brad Mills has already put a list together of possible replacements for Quirk.

“I’m very happy for him to get this opportunity,” Mills said.

Quirk, 57, joined the Astros two years ago after working as a professional scout in 2009. Prior to that, he had served as bench coach for the Colorado Rockies for six years (2003-08) under then-manager Clint Hurdle. He began his Major League coaching career in 1994 as bullpen coach for the Royals and later served as bench coach.

Quirk played in the Major Leagues for 18 years, appearing in 984 games, including 525 at catcher. He compiled a .240 career average with 43 home runs and 247 RBIs while playing for eight teams, including 11 years with the Royals. He was on the Royals’ 1985 World Series championship team.

Mills getting long in tooth among NL Central managers

Brad Mills and Terry Francona, former college roommates who worked together for years with the Phillies and the Red Sox, could soon be battling each other 18 times a season in the National League Central.

News reports say Francona is set to interview for the Cardinals’ vacant managerial position after he was let go by the Red Sox earlier this year. This comes after Ryne Sandberg was given permission to interview in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have fired Mike Quade and are going to interview Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who interviewed in Houston before Mills go the job two years ago.

Believe it or not, Mills is now the second-longest current tenured manager in the NL Central behind Dusty Baker. Here’s a breakdown of the managerial status of the teams in the Central:

St. Louis Cardinals — Vacant following the retirement of Tony La Russa.

Chicago Cubs — Vacant following the dismissal of Mike Quade.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Clint Hurdle just completed his first season in Pittsburgh.

Milwaukee Brewers — Ron Roenicke led the Brewers to the division title in his first season in 2011.

Houston Astros — Brad Mills has completed two seasons on the job.

Cincinnati Reds — Dusty Baker took over following the 2007 season and replaced Pete Mackanin, who was hired on an interim basis.

Astros lineup Wednesday against Cubs

Here’s the Astros lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Cubs:

CF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Matt Downs

3B Jimmy Paredes

RF Brian Bogusevic

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Bud Norris

Astros’ lineup against Cubs

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Cubs:

CF Jason Bourgeois

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Matt Downs

RF Brian Bogusevic

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Henry Sosa

Astros’ lineup at stormy Wrigley

It’s storming heavily at Wrigley Field this morning, the kind of storm that would make Lance Berkman dash for cover. Alas, the Astros and Cubs are scheduled to play at 1:20 p.m. today.

The Astros made a roster move prior to the game, activating outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the disabled list and sending outfielder Brian Bogusevic — a Chicago-area product — back to Oklahoma City. Bourgeois was scheduled to arrive in Chicago this morning, so we’ll see how the storms affect his travel.

Bud Norris returns to Wrigley Field for the first time since making his Major League debut on July 29, 2009. He allowed a run in three innings in relief and has gone two years without pitching at Wrigley. That will change today, assuming the weather clears up.

Here is manager Brad Mills’ lineup:

CF Michael Bourn

2B Jose Altuve

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

3B Chris Johnson

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Bud Norris

Lyles on his way to Astros

The Astros announced Saturday afternoon they will place left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list Monday with fluid in his left elbow joint and will purchase the contract of top prospect Jordan Lyles, a right-handed pitcher, from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Lyles, 20, the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year, will make his Major League debut on Tuesday when he gets the start for the Astros against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He’s 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 10 starts this year for the RedHawks. Lyles is also scheduled to start June 5 in San Diego, manager Brad Mills said.

“He’s been pitching well,” Mills said. “His last outing [Wednesday] was six shutout innings and he only threw 77 pitches. He’s put some pretty good outings together. Everyone’s excited with the way he threw in Spring Training for us and we’re exited for him. This will be a good time to see him pitch.”

Rodriguez underwent an MRI on Saturday morning because of discomfort in his elbow. He was scheduled to start Saturday’s game against Arizona, but was scratched on Friday. Rodriguez is 3-3 in 10 starts this season with a 3.41 ERA, and is 3-1 in his last seven starts with a 2.16 ERA.

In Lyles’ last seven starts, he has been one of the top starting pitchers in Triple-A, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.00 ERA. In that span, he has allowed two runs or less in six starts and one run or less in four starts.

Lyles, the club’s 38th overall pick in 2008, dazzled the Astros in Spring Training, posting a 1.98 ERA in five appearances while competing for the fifth starter’s job – a spot that eventually went to Nelson Figueroa.

To make room for Lyles on the 40-man roster, catcher Jason Castro will be transferred to the 60-day disabled list.



Astros can’t catch a break

Things could have been so much different for the Astros on Wednesday. Had Wandy Rodriguez been able to get an inning-ending double play in the first — instead of having to settle for a fielder’s choice — the Cubs wouldn’t have later erupted for five runs in the inning.

Had Brett Wallace been able to clearly see Bill Hall’s blooper drop in right field and been able to get to second base, he wouldn’t have been forced out and perhaps would have scored on Matt Downs’ ensuing home run.

The Cubs scored three times in the ninth against the Astros bullpen to break the game open and win 9-5, but you couldn’t help but wonder what if?

“We fought at the plate and bounced back,” Downs said. “I feel like we fight to the end every night. We just haven’t caught some breaks here and there.”

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) nearly got an inning-ending double play in the first when he coerced Marlon Byrd to hit a one-out comebacker to the mound. Rodriguez threw to second for a force out, but shortstop Angel Sanchez’s relay throw to first base was late to keep the inning alive. The Cubs went on to score five two-out runs to take a 5-0 lead.

The Astros scored five times in the sixth to get within a run, 6-5, and could have pushed another run across the plate in the sixth and possibly tied the game. But first baseman Brett Wallace was an easy force out at second base after retreating to first on a blooper by Hall that fell between right fielder Tyler Colvin and second baseman Darwin Barney.

Wallace thought Colvin caught the ball and went back to first, where he was greeted by Hall urging him to scurry to second. The Cubs gladly took the force out as Carlos Lee crossed the plate to make it 6-3. Downs followed with a two-run homer that could have been a three-run homer.

“Just from that angle with the second baseman going back, you’re basically blocked out,” Wallace said. “It was just a ball that I have to be far enough to get to second if he doesn’t catch it, but in the same sense if he catches it and throws me out at first there’s point to being off. It was really just judgment. I couldn’t see the baseball and it looked like Colvin scooped it up.”

After watching the replay, Wallace thought he would have been thrown out at second anyway had he seen the ball drop.

“[Darwin] scooped it pretty cleanly and made a pretty good throw to second,” he said, “but it definitely would have looked a lot better if was making the out at second.”

Johnson out of Astros lineup

Third baseman Chris Johnson is not in the Astros’ starting lineup today, presumably because he’s nursing a sore left arm. Johnson was hit by a pitch on the back of his upper left arm Tuesday and told me after the game he was having trouble moving the arm. We’ll know when we get to visit with manager Brad Mills.

The Astros will try to win consecutive games for the first time this year when they send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound to face Carlos Zambrano, who’s dominated the Astros in his career and even through a no-hitter against Houston in 2008. He’s 14-8 with a 2.63 ERA in his career against the Astros. Rodriguez is coming off a strong start, allowing eight hits and one run Friday against Florida.

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:


CF Michael Bourn

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

2B Bill Hall

3B Matt Downs

C J.R. Towles

LHP Wandy Rodriguez