Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’
What happened: The Astros bashed out 14 hits, including a home run by Brandon Barnes, and got some solid pitching across the board to beat the Phillies, 8-3, in their Grapefruit League opener and American League debut (boxscore) on Saturday. After practicing their post-game handshake for two weeks, the Astros finally got a chance to use with their first win of the spring.
“Offensively these guys swung the bats and ran the bases great,” manager Bo Porter said. “I think base running was a key factor in the game and it put a lot of pressure on the other team and created more scoring opportunities for us.”
What we learned: The Astros are going to be aggressive. They stole four bases early in the game, including a double steal by Tyler Greene and Trevor Crowe in the third inning, and Porter says they will force the issue and put pressure on opponents as much as possible.
“It’s a staple of our team,” Porter said. “I told the guys earlier on in the spring that if you want to find out an identity of a ballclub, watch them run the bases. It’s aggressive, but it’s controlled aggression, and we are only going to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in front of us.”
What we learned II: RHP Jarred Cosart does OK in pressure. Cosart, the right-hander who’s battling for a spot on the club, returned to Clearwater to face his former team and pitched two perfect innings, overcoming some nerves in the bullpen prior to the game. He was acquired by Houston from the Phillies in 2011. Cosart had good arm speed on his changeup and was locating his fastball well.
“I felt great,” he said. “I was a little worried in the bullpen. It was a little off down there. Originally, I was supposed to come in in the fourth and that didn’t work out and they wanted to get Xavier [Cedeno] some work with some lefties and face [Ryan] Howard and some other guys. That kind of threw me off. I got in there and was a little sporadic in the bullpen. Nerves had something to do with that. When I got out there, it was clicking pretty well and I was getting the ball out of my glove, which is what we had been working on all Spring Training. I’m ecstatic.”
What we learned III: Barnes is a gamer. Barnes made a good first impression by hitting Houston’s first homer of the spring and throwing out a runner at the plate from center field. Here’s video of the homer.
“I’m just going to come out here and play as hard as I can,” Barnes said. “I went out to winter ball and worked on some things, and I’m just trying to carry it over here and keep going. We’re going to make a good push at this and we’re going to work hard every day.”
What else: RHP Lucas Harrell had a few mechanical issues, but for the most part he kept the ball down and made it through two innings and got in his work in his first start (Harrell video here). … OF Robbie Grossman made a nice impression by going 2-for-3, and 2B Marwin Gonzalez also went 2-for-3. … RHP Josh Zeid, RHP Sam Demel and LHP Xavier Cedeno each threw a scoreless inning.
What went wrong: The Astros had one mental mistake in the first inning. With Howard at at-bat and a shift moving another infielder to the right side of the second base, Chase Utley was able to advance two bases when no one covered third on a ball hit between first and second.
What they said: “It always feels good when you play well. More importantly, we played clean baseball. There were no errors, we swung the bat well and our situational hitting was good. Defensively, we made the plays we were supposed to make, and when you do those things right it gives you the best chance to win ballgames.” — manager Bo Porter.
What’s next: RHP Bud Norris takes the mound for the Astros in their first home game of Grapefruit League play at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium. He’s scheduled to throw two innings. Second baseman Jose Altuve, catcher Jason Castro, outfielder Rick Ankiel and designated hitter Carlos Pena, all of whom didn’t make the trip to Clearwater on Saturday, are scheduled to get their first game action.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) and catcher Max Stassi (oblique) continue to progress.
The day in photos:
The Astros are working on a deal that would send relief pitcher Wilton Lopez to the Phillies in exchange for Minor League prospects, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com
Lopez has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero.
He posted the lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.
The departure of Lopez would leave the Astros with a glaring hole at closer, something the team will likely address in the near future
The Astros claimed him off waivers on April 10, 2009.
I had a chance to catch up with former Astros slugger Lance Berkman in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, trying to dodge the champagne and beer as best as possible. Berkman was beaming after the Cardinals had just clinched the National League Wild Card.
“It’s just great,” he said. “It’s exciting. Any time you get a chance to play for a championship, that’s all you can ask for as a player.”
What a week it’s been for Berkman. He signed a one-year, $12-million contract extension with the Cardinals only a few days ago and then came to his hometown of Houston and helped the Cardinals take two of three games from the Astros to run down the Braves.
“This year has been pretty special in a lot of ways, and certainly this is a great way to cap it off,” he said.
Now the Cardinals and Berkman will get to face the Phillies in the National League Division Series beginning Saturday in Philadelphia. The Phillies, of course, feature three of Berkman’s former teammates – Hunter Pence, Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt.
“If you could round up all the ex-Astros you’d have a pretty good team,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge to play those guys. They have a great team, the best team in baseball this year. So we’ll see what happens.”
Here is the lineup the Astros will use to try to avoid their franchise-record 98th loss of the season Tuesday against the Phillies:
CF Jason Bourgeois
SS Clint Barmes
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
2B Matt Downs
3B Chris Johnson
RF Jason Michaels
C Humberto Quintero
LHP J.A. Happ
Here is the Astros’ lineup for Monday’s game against the Phillies and Roy Oswalt:
CF Jordan Schafer
SS Angel Sanchez
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
RF Brian Bogusevic
3B Jimmy Paredes
2B Jose Altuve
C Humberto Quintero
RHP Brett Myers
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?
The dream of pitching in the Major Leagues just got much better for Jarred Cosart.
Cosart, one of four players acquired by the Astros in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies on Friday night, grew up cheering for the Astros from his home in League City, Texas, which is about 27 miles south of Houston. He’ll report to Double-A Corpus Christi (at Midland, Texas) on Sunday and hopes to be pitching at Minute Maid Park soon.
“I can’t describe it in words,” Cosart told MLB.com via phone. “It’s stuff you read about all the time, players having a chance to play for their hometown team. I don’t know how many guys in the Major Leagues right now have that opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I’m going take it and run with it.”
Cosart’s parents are vacationing in San Diego and began to hear rumors he was being traded to Houston.
“They heard my name pop up and finally saw it up there [on TV],” he said. “They were kind of shocked, but after the shock wears off you get excited. I heard from a lot of friends and family. I turned my phone off last night about 3 a.m.”
Cosart, 21,was drafted in the 38th round of the 2008 Draft but signed with the Phillies with an over-slot deal instead of heading to Missouri. He’s always had electric stuff, but he had trouble staying healthy over his first couple of years and threw just 95 2/3 innings from 2009 to ’10.
In 2009, he had back and shoulder problems. In 2010, his season ended in June because of a bad elbow. Even in limited time, though, he showed what he can do, striking out 102 and walking just 23 in that span. Cosart has one of the better fastballs in the Minors, and it was on display at this year’s Futures Game, when he was touching 98 mph.
Cosart said he’s healthy. He was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) at Class A Clearwater.
“I’ve had some really minor little injuries and I never wanted to have that label,” he said. “I worked really hard this last offseason to get in shape for the season. It worked out well and I know I’m starting to let it go, get after it. I feel like I’m close to where I need to be.”
When he heard he was traded, he texted J.D. Martinez and told him he’d be joining him in Corpus Christi. He didn’t know at the time Martinez was headed to the Major Leagues in the wake of the Pence trade. Cosart and Martinez played against each other several times last year in Class A Lexington and talked a lot.
Not only is Cosart joining the Astros, but he’s moving up a level in an organization that’s showing increasing willingness to promote young prospects. Jordan Lyles in the Majors at 20 years old, and Jose Altuve and Martinez were promoted from Double-A.
Suddenly, Cosart is much closer to reaching the Major Leagues.
“It doesn’t matter what team, but now that I’m with my hometown team it’s unbelievable,” he said. “And the fact they’re rebuilding and they have a lot of young guys and there’s an opportunity. I want to pitch in the big leagues and I want to win. There Astros are going into that mode and they want to win with younger guys. It shows a lot about the organization’s belief in young guys and giving younger guys a chance, something the Phillies really didn’t need to do.”
With the Astros possibly getting closer to a deal to trade Hunter Pence, the right-fielder admitted following Thursday night’s win over the Cardinals that he couldn’t help but think it might have been his last game in an Astros uniform.
“What can I say? I’m not in control,” he said. “I love these guys, I love Houston. That’s all I know.”
The Phillies are pushing hard for Pence and could be willing to offer pitcher Vance Worley, outfielder Domonic Brown and a Minor League pitcher.
Pence went 2-for-4 with two doubles on Thursday to raise his average to .309, saying he benefited from a day off.
“Sometimes when you get to watch a game you know it kind of slows things down for you,” he said. “Things were piling up and was making mistakes of the past and trying to do too much just to make up for it. It made me realize…slow the game down.”
With the Trade Deadline a week away, the Astros are engaged in numerous trade conversations, general manager Ed Wade said on Sunday. Wade has a policy not to discuss trade specifics, but what’s known is outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn – their two best offensive players – have been attracting considerable attention.
Bourn and Pence would come with a steep price tag, which means Houston could be more likely to deal pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. CSNPhilly.com reported Sunday that Pence is the top target of the Phillies and that they would have be willing to give up outfield prospect Dominic Brown.
Right now, the Astros are open to listening to anything.
“As I’ve indicated before, at the very least we have to be good listeners,” Wade said. “We can always say ‘no’ to anything that we don’t think improves us in the short term or long term. It’s important for us to be proactive on a couple of different fronts as we were with Jeff Keppinger, and at the same time be receptive and responsive to any other inquiries or opportunities that may present themselves.”
The Astros are 0-3 for the second year in a row heading into a series at Cincinnati, which just swept the Brewers to improve to 3-0. One tough assignment leads to another.
Starting the season with three consecutive losses in games started by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt — all of whom delivered quality starts — is nothing to hang your head about, but the Astros need to tighten some things. Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris need to get better next time through the rotation, and guys like Bill Hall and Brett Wallace need to come around at the plate.
But, hey, it’s only three games. It’s too early to make any grand assessments or push any panic buttons.
“We battled and we would have liked to have come out with a couple of wins, but we’ll try to get them next time,” Chris Johnson said.
Here are a few stats after three games for the Astros:
Batting average: .231
Runners in scoring position: 4-for-20
Strikeouts by hitters: 28
Walks drawn: 3 (1 intentional)