Results tagged ‘ Minute Maid Park ’

Appel throws bullpen at Minute Maid Park

Mark Appel, one of the Astros’ top prospects and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, threw in the bullpen at Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon in front of senior pitcher advisor/special assistant to the general manager Doug Brocail and Astros pitching coach Brent Strom.

The Astros wanted to get Appel in front of Brocail, who served as the interim pitching coach at Double-A Corpus Christi, before the right-hander headed out next week for the instructional league in Florida and ultimately the Arizona Fall League.

“He’s still trying to get cleaned up,” Brocail said. “Personally, I think there’s a lot he needs to do. We’ve talked about it and it’s a matter of trying to clean him up as much as we can until he gets down the instructional league and out of the fall league. I just want to make sure he’s staying on the right path and doing the same things that led him to success at Double-A and he can keep marching up the ladder, versus taking one step back and two steps forward.”

Appel overcame a sluggish start to his first full season in the pro ball this year. He went 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA in seven games (six starts) at Corpus Christi after beginning the season with a 2-5 record and a 9.74 ERA in 12 games at hitter-friendly Lancaster in Class A.

“We got some really good work done in terms of trying to time some things up,” Strom said. “His fastball was extremely explosive, good changeup. There’s some work that needs to be done on the slider, which we did.

“He’s very open to ideas, so it was an excellent session and there’s definitely thunder coming out of his arm, from what I saw in the bullpen. It was firm, and it was four-seam firm with power. I was very excited for him and he did a good job. I loved what I saw, to be honest with you.”

When asked how close he was in the Majors, Strom said: “I saw some fastballs today that could have played last night.”

Brocail said his theory when he got Appel in July was to prepare him to pitch in the big leagues, which meant cleaning up his rhythm and delivery and helping him hold runners better.

“We got him in a five-man rotation and moved forward and didn’t look back,” he said. “Not taking anything away from the other coaches, I told him, I said, ‘Listen, everything that you think worked, keep it. And everything that didn’t, get rid of it. Erase it completely off the slate.’ And he responded very well. He’s intelligent, he has desire to win. I wish I would have had him longer.”

Astros deciding how to honor Pettitte

Members of the Astros front office met Friday in Houston to discuss the proper way to honor Andy Pettitte, the Yankees pitcher who announced his retirement. Pettitte, a Houston-area native, played for the Astros from 2004-06 and will finish his career at Minute Maid Park next weekend.

Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said the club plans to honor Pettitte in some form and fashion and hopes to have a plan in place by early next week.

“We only have three [home] games left, but without a doubt we want to do something to honor Andy because he’s had a great career and he’s a former Houston Astro and a Deer Park kid,” Ryan said. “We just need to figure out what the right thing is to do that you can make meaningful in a short amount of time.”

The Astros are already planning to honor Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who announced earlier this year he was retiring, prior to the Sept. 29 season finale. The club plans to present Rivera with an original work of art by Texas sports artist Opie Otterstad.

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and Roger Clemens, Rivera’s former teammate with the Yankees, will also be part of Sunday’s pregame celebration.

As far as honoring Pettitte, Ryan says stay tuned.

“We’re feverishly brainstorming,” he said. “There’s a lot of good ideas floating around out there.”

Astros lower ticket prices

The Astros on Monday announced several new, fan-friendly initiatives, including a reduction in ticket prices, rebates for season ticket holders and a revised policy on bringing food and beverages into Minute Maid Park.

“We feel this is the right thing to do,” Astros owner Jim Crane said. “It is one way for us to let our fans know how vital they are to our success, and to let them know we’ve been listening to them.”


Fans are now allowed to bring food and water into Minute Maid Park for Astros games. Food must be transported in a small, clear (see-through) plastic bag, and water must be in a sealed, plastic bottle, being one liter or less in size. One bottle of water per person is allowed. The Astros new policy now mirrors that of most Major League ballparks.

Additionally, the Astros have expanded the $5 beer special to include every permanent concession stand and permanent bar at Minute Maid Park where domestic beer is sold.


As a special thank you for their loyalty and commitment, the Astros will issue five percent rebates to full-season and 27-game season ticket accounts that are renewed by January 31, 2012. Those rebates will be distributed in the form of a gift card that can be used to purchase food, merchandise or individual game tickets at Minute Maid Park.


The 2012 season will bring a reduction in the cost of over 5,000 seats at Minute Maid Park, in comparison to the start of the 2011 season.

The Astros low-priced, Outfield Deck seats have been reduced even lower, now costing $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 3-14 (adult tickets were $7 in 2011). With this reduction, a family of four can now attend an Astros game for $12, which is the best everyday value in the Houston sports market and less than a single movie theater ticket in some instances.

In August, with the consultation of Crane, the Astros made a significant reduction in the price of a large number of Field and Club Level seats at Minute Maid Park for 2012. Seats in the newly-created Field Box II sections are now priced at $29, down from $41 in 2011. And, with the creation of the new Power Club, located on the exclusive Club Level, fans have the opportunity to purchase a $35 ticket that includes a $15 credit for food, beverage and retail items. Those same seats were $46 in 2011, with no added credit.


The Astros will also continue to offer several of the popular ticket specials that have been available in recent years in an effort to make Astros games affordable to all fans.

Price Matters Days presented by H-E-B

This offer, which is available for every Monday through Thursday Astros game, includes one View Deck II ticket, one hot dog, a bag of H-E-B chips and one soda for just $10, which represents a savings of over 50%. Also, for $10 more, fans can purchase a lower level seat in the Bullpen Boxes.

All You Can Eat

For $30, this deal includes a Mezzanine game ticket and unlimited hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos, soda and water  and is available for every home game. Groups of 20 or more are eligible to purchase this package for just $25.

Coca-Cola Value Zone

This offer, which is available for every Friday, Saturday and Sunday game, includes a Mezzanine ticket and Astros cap, as well as a hot dog and Coke product beverage for $20.

POWERADE Double Play Tuesdays

This popular offer, which is available every Tuesday, features two Outfield Deck tickets for just $2. Additionally on Tuesdays, fans can now also purchase two Field Box II tickets for just $40, which is new in 2012.

 9-Inning Lunch Break

This package is offered for weekday, 1:05 p.m. games and includes a Field Box ticket and $20 in Minute Maid Park food and beverage vouchers, which is a $61 value, for just $45, a savings of $16 per ticket.

Dynamic Pricing

This offer is available for every Astros home game for select seats. Prices, which fluctuate based on demand, can represent up to 50% in savings per ticket.

Special Fundraising Pricing

The Astros offer special fundraising opportunities to charities and community organizations, which can earn up to $10 per ticket by selling discounted Astros tickets.

Group Ticket Specials

With the Astros Group Ticket Program, groups of 20 or more can purchase discounted tickets. Group discounts can be as high as 50% per ticket, depending on the size of the group.

Oswalt, Pence return. Will you cheer or boo?

For the first time since they were traded to the Phillies, pitcher Roy Oswalt and right fielder Hunter Pence return to Minute Maid Park for tonight’s game against the Astros. Oswalt has been with the Phillies for more than a year, but this will be his first trip to Houston in those red shoes. Pence was traded just a few weeks ago and is flourishing with the best team in baseball.

Oswalt, who left in Houston one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins, asked Astros management for a trade last year when he didn’t like the direction the club was headed. Pence certainly didn’t ask for a trade, but the Astros were in payroll-trimming mode and were able to land some of the Phillies top prospects in exchange for the high-flying outfielder.

Earlier this year when Lance Berkman made his return to Minute Maid Park with the Cardinals, he received a nice ovation. Not surprising, since he’s one of the most popular players in franchise history. Pence and Oswalt are in the same category. But Astros fans haven’t always been so kind to those who have returned in different uniforms.

Carlos Beltran, who spent only four months in Houston and had a legendary performance in the 2004 playoffs, still gets booed six years after he shunned the Astros and signed a big-money deal with the Mets. Brad Lidge, the closer during the terrific playoff seasons in 2004 and 2005, still gets booed as well, which is a little strange. I’m guessing it has to do with giving up his homer to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS than it does anything else. Lidge was a model citizen and good player in Houston.

So, what will be it be, Astros fans? Boos or cheers for Oswalt and Pence?

Astros-Red Sox postgame notes

Here are some postgame notes from the Astros’ 7-5 loss to the Red Sox, who scored six runs in the seventh inning Friday night:

• RHP Bud Norris went 6.0 innings, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks and did not factor into the decision…he struck out 10 hitters, marking his 4th career double-digit strikeout game and his 2nd this season (also, 5/1/11 vs. MIL-11K).
• CF Michael Bourn singled and scored in each of the 1st 2 innings, both times being driven in by RF Hunter Pence…Pence has now driven in Bourn 25 times this season, which is more more times than any other player has driven in a teammate in 2011.
• By collecting his 1st inning single, Bourn extended his hitting streak to 10 games, his 2nd 10+ gamer this season…during the streak, Bourn is hitting .357 (15×42) with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 6 steals and 3 RBI.
• Pence entered tonight’s game ranked T-7th in RBI in the National League and extended his season total 55 with 2 more RBI tonight…he is on pace for 107 RBI this season.
• LF Carlos Lee went 2×5 with an RBI tonight and has now recorded an RBI in 6 straight games…the last time Lee went at least 6 straight games with an RBI was from 5/6-11/2008 (also 6 games)…Lee’s run in 2008 also marks the last time an Astro had an RBI in 6 straight.
• SS Clint Barmes picked up another 2 hits tonight, both doubles, and now has hits in 5 straight games, hitting at a .526 (10×19) clip in that time frame…in those last 5 games, Barmes has 6 doubles.
• The Red Sox came back from a 4-run deficit to win behind a 6-run 7th inning…entering tonight, the club already led the American League in batting average in the 7th inning or later and increased that mark up to .276 (258×936) by going 6×15 in those frames tonight…the Sox have now scored 74 runs in the 7th inning this season (no other MLB club has more than 47).
• With the win, the Sox improved to 8-8 this season in Interleague games…the club has gone 17-8 overall in their last 25 games and have outscored their opponents 155-93 over that span.
• SS Marco Scutaro led off tonight’s game with his 2nd homer this season…it marked his 5th career leadoff home run and his 1st since 4/30/09 at KC…it was also the 3rd leadoff homer by a Red Sock this season, both of them previously hit by Jacoby Ellsbury, most recently accomplished on 6/17 vs. MIL…tonight marked Scutaro’s 1st time to bat leadoff this season.
• 2B Dustin Pedroia went 1×3 with 2 walks and 2 RBI including the game-tying 2-run single in the 6th inning…including tonight, Pedroia has reached base safely in 15 straight games (since 6/15), hitting .333 (19×57) with a .451 OBP.
• 1B Adrian Gonzalez accounted for the go-ahead runs with a 2-run double in the 7th frame…with 2 RBI tonight, Gonzalez increased his Major League leading RBI total to 73.
• C Humberto Quintero began his rehab assignment for Triple A Oklahoma City tonight in their game at Memphis…Quintero caught 5.0 innings and went 1×3 with a double and a run scored…he scored from 2nd base on the play and had no complaints about his injured right ankle.
• Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from tonight’s lineup due to illness, marking his 1st missed game of the season.

Astros-Mets lineup for Friday

Here are the starting lineups for Friday’s game between Astros and Mets:


CF Michael Bourn

SS Clint Barmes

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

3B Chris Johnson

2B Bill Hall

C Humberto Quintero

P Bud Norris


SS Jose Reyes

C Josh Thole

3B David Wright

RF Carlos Beltran

LF Jason Bay

1B Daniel Murphy

2B Justin Turner

CF Jason Pridie

RHP Dillon Gee (2-0, 3.80 ERA)

Details on Red Sox exhibition cancellation

With the start of Major League Baseball’s 2011 regular season on March 31, the second exhibition game between the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox that had been scheduled for that date at Minute Maid Park can no longer be played due to MLB rules.

The Astros March 30 exhibition game vs. the Red Sox will be played as scheduled at Minute Maid Park at 7:05 p.m. CT.  Fans will also have the opportunity to see the Astros face the Red Sox when they return to Minute Maid Park for a three-game series July 1-3.  The Astros will open the 2011 championship season on Friday, April 1 in Philadelphia at 12:05 p.m. CT, and will host the Florida Marlins in their Home Opener at Minute Maid Park on Friday, April 8 at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Astros full saason ticket holders will have their accounts credited for the value of the March 31 game, which can be used for future purchases. A letter and refund form has been mailed to account holders to provide that option as well, and an online refund request is available at

All 27-game mini plan Hhlders that had the March 31 game in their plan will be provided with an equal amount of tickets for the Astros vs. Rockies game on Sept. 22.

Fans with any questions regarding the game cancellation ticket replacement options may contact the Astros Ticket Office at 1-800-ASTROS2.


Scoreboard progress pictures

I spent a couple of hours at Minute Mark Park on Wednesday, talking with Hunter Pence, Bud Norris, Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace and Brian Bogusevic about their off-season workout routines and various other things that crossed our minds. The story about their off-season workouts will be posted soon.

While at the ballpark, I went into the dugout to check out the progress of the new scoreboard renovations. There’s not much to report with the massive new scoreboard that will be above right field, except the old board is completely gone. The ribbon board surrounding the stadium appears to be finished on the outside, and there’s progress on the new scoreboard that’s going in above the third-base line.

I took some pictures so you can check out the progress:

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Above: The old scoreboard above right field is gone.

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Above: The new scoreboard going in above the third-base line.

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Above: Check out the ribbon board going around the facade just below the upper deck.

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Above: Chris Johnson talking with Bobby Meacham, with new scoreboard visible in background.

Astros set to renovate Minute Maid Park

Minute Maid Park will undergo significant renovations this offseason, including the installation of a 54-by-124 feet video board that will be the second-largest in Major League Baseball, smaller than only the one in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

Pam Gardner, the Astros’ president of business operations, went before the Harris-Country Houston Sports Authority on Thursday morning and shared news of the renovations. The Astros, who lease the ballpark from the Sports Authority, will pony up all of the estimated $10-to-12 million price tag.”It’s been 11 years since it opened, so it’s time,” Gardner said.

The new video board, which will be HD, will be above right field where the current scoreboard sits. The current video board high above center field will become dormant, and the Astros will add a second video board in left field that will be about the size of the current video board in center.

“That’s so people on the bullpen side can look up and see the video board, which they haven’t been able to do before,” Gardner said.

The Astros had been exploring the idea of upgrading their scoreboard for a few years, and a member of the club’s ballpark entertainment department was in Cincinnati last week to check out the video board at Great American Ball Park.

In addition, Minute Maid Park will have 1,000 feet of ribbon board stretching from foul pole to foul pole, replacing the currently 100 feet of ribbon board on each side of the ballpark. Also, the writing press box, which currently sits at the top of the dugout boxes, will be moved up one level to be adjacent to the broadcast press area.

The area behind home plate that currently houses the writing press box will be transformed into an area for premium season-ticket holders, allowing the Astros to generate more revenue.

“I guess I’d call it a hip club area,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the Astros are using money from their asset renewal and replacement fund, which they make yearly payments into as part of their rent. She said the renovations will begin within the next month and will be ready for Opening Day next year.


Tough road ahead for Astros

Had the Astros found a way to win Tuesday’s series finale in Los Angeles, they would have been coming home from a 4-4 road trip, which wouldn’t have been too bad. But in reality, there are few positives to take away from a 3-5 road trip that ended with five consecutive losses.

The Astros are 13-26 and on a pace to go 54-108, which would easily be the worst season in their history. There are still three-fourths of the season to go, and a lot can and will happen between now and then. But as you look at the immediate schedule, things aren’t going to get easier for the Astros.

The Rockies will throw NL Cy Young contender Ubadlo Jimenez are them on Thursday, and then the Rays — the best team in baseball — invade Minute Maid Park this weekend and will throw three starters who are a combined 14-2. The Astros are last in the Majors in nearly every offensive category, which makes the upcoming pitching matchups even more disheartening.

Here are the pitchers the Astros are going to face the during this weekend’s home stand:

Wednesday — LHP Greg Smith (1-2, 6.35 ERA): Smith accepted reassignment to the bullpen last week, but before he makes his first appearance as a reliever, he’s got one more task to attend to: Another start. Thanks to Colorado’s rotation being thrown off by Friday’s rainout and subsequent doubleheader on Saturday against Washington, manager Jim Tracy announced Smith would start this game at Houston. Smith has started seven games for Colorado this season and has a 1-2 record and a 6.35 ERA. In his last start, on May 10, the lefty went 5 2/3 innings against San Diego, allowing eight hits and four earned runs, while striking out six and walking four. Wednesday will mark his first career appearance against the Astros.

Thursday — RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-1, 1.12 ERA): He offered another brilliant outing against the Nationals on Saturday, silencing their bats for eight innings while yielding two runs on seven hits and a walk and striking out five. He paid for a couple mistakes, including hanging a split-finger fastball to Adam Dunn, who sent it 442 feet into the third deck at Coors Field for the first home run Jimenez has given up all season. He was efficient with his pitches, throwing 115, including 70 for strikes, and kept a tight game in hand, only trailing after giving up a first-inning run, then shutting down the Nats until the Dunn solo shot. Jimenez set the tone for the Rockies to sweep their first doubleheader since September 2007, a game into their 21-of-22 win stretch that catapulted the club to its first World Series appearance.

Friday — RHP Matt Garza (5-1, 2.38 ERA): Garza will make his ninth start of the season against Houston. Garza only gave up five hits, two walks and one run over six innings in his last start, but he didn’t have his best stuff while earning a no-decision against the Mariners on Sunday. His fastball command was a little off, and he admittedly struggled to find the strike zone at times, throwing just 56 of his 106 pitches for strikes. Still, he battled through six innings, benefited from excellent defensive play behind him and kept his team around long enough to win. Friday will be the Rays’ first Interleague game, and Garza will face the Astros for just the second time in his four-year Major League career — and his first time against them away from Tropicana Field. The 26-year-old has gone eight or more innings in four of his starts, allowed one earned run or less in five, given up two runs or fewer in six of them and will hope for more of the same in Houston.

Saturday — RHP Jeff Niemann (3-0, 2.54 ERA): The Houston native and former Rice University ace will make his first Major League start in Houston. The 6-foot-9 right-hander has worked into the seventh inning for quality starts in seven straight appearances and in all but one of his starts — the sole exception being his injury-shortened first start of the season against Baltimore. He gave up a season-high 10 hits Monday night in a 4-3 win over the Indians, who scored three runs off Niemann. He admitted he wasn’t as sharp as he could have been against Cleveland, but Tampa Bay’s defense and bullpen helped make up for the starter’s second-shortest outing of the season. Niemann has never faced the Astros in his short career, and this will be his fourth start in Interleague Play. He has recorded a win and two no-decisions in his previous outings, none of which went longer than six innings, but he did not allow more than three runs in any of them.

Sunday — LHP David Price (6-1, 1.81): Price will take on the Astros in his ninth start of the season after another impressive outing against the Indians on Tuesday. The American League’s first six-game winner pitched six innings, scattered four hits, walked three, struck out five and gave up just one unearned run. He likely could have gone deeper into the game, but manager Joe Maddon has been limiting his starters to around 100 pitches. The left-hander had great control of his fastball against Cleveland, and he threw 65 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Price’s first career start against Houston will be his fourth in Interleague Play. He is 1-2 in those outings and allowed five earned runs in two of the three starts — both losses.


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