Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

Astros lineup Saturday vs. Phillies

Here is the Astros lineup for Saturday’s game against the Phillies, who are starting left-hander Cliff Lee:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

2B Bill Hall

3B Chris Johnson

1B Brett Wallace

C J.R. Towles

P Wandy Rodriguez

Plenty of positives in Astros loss

One of the first things Astros manager Brad Mills spoke about following Friday’s gut-wrenching, 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Opening Day was how well his team played. Sure, the Astros coughed up three runs in the ninth and lost a game they should have won, but for 8 1/2 innings they played pretty much flawless baseball.

Mills is a stickler for doing things the right way on the field, being prepared and making the plays you’re supposed to make. For the most part the Astros did that, and that’s a good sign going forward.

For all those who were disturbed by what the Astros in Spring Training or the high ERA that Brett Myers had in Grapefruit League play, Friday should go a long way into reminding you how meaningless Spring Training results are. The Astros played as well for 8 1/2 innings Friday as they had at any point during the spring, and that tends to happen when your starters stay on the field for most of the game.

“It was a great game,” right fielder Hunter Pence said. “We came out and got in the fight and competed. They found some holes at the end and we weren’t able to get the final outs, but we’ve got three games here. We’ve got two more to go and we’re going to keep going up there battling and going hard. I’m pretty happy with what we did today.”

Here’s what stood out to me today:

  • Brett Myers was downright terrific. I enjoy watching him pitch and compete. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he’s not the same pitcher he was while he was in Philadelphia, when he was throwing in the mid-90s. He’s a true pitcher now, and has good command. He kept the ball down and never let the Phillies get in a rhythm at the plate.
  • If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of the game of Angel Sanchez. I’ve said repeatedly that he’s slow and he’s not a good defensive player, but I have to admit the guy is growing on me. Those shortcomings are still true, but he makes the routine plays for the most part and he can hit. He’s not going to hit for much power, but he went 2-for-4 with two singles in the No. 2 hole on Friday. He’s a good guy to have on the team. It just took me a while to realize it.
  • Humberto Quintero had a very nice spring at the plate, and he went 1-for-4 in his regular-season debut Friday. The most impressive thing about his game was throwing out Shane Victorino while he was trying to steal second base, and Quintero did it while he was still in his crouch. As the Phillies found out last year, his arm is a huge weapon. The Astros may be alright with him starting three days a week.
  • Brett Wallace had a quiet game, going 1-for-4, but he went the other way for a single against a left-handed pitcher, which is an extremely encouraging sign. He looks like he’s picked up where he left off in Kissimmee. I don’t know if he’ll ever hit for much power — he just hasn’t shown that much at all — but the kid can swing the bat.
  • The Astros didn’t strike out any batters on Friday. Unusual to say the least.

Astros lineup for Opening Day

You can’t tell it by this photo, but at about 9 a.m. ET time it was snowing at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, about four hours before the Astros begin the regular season against the Phillies:

Tarp on the field in Philly for the snow

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

CF Michael Bourn — Fourth consecutive Opening Day start for the Astros.

SS Angel Sanchez – First career appearance on an Opening Day roster.

RF Hunter Pence — In 23 career games vs. the Phils, Hunter Pence has tallied 10 HR and 21 RBI while hitting .330 (30×91) with a .681 slg. pct. (ranks 4th among opp. since 2007)

LF Carlos Lee — Lee has 9 HR and 31 RBI vs. PHI since ‘07 with a .615 slg pct.

2B Bill Hall -- Hall is fourth different Opening Day starter for the Astros at second base in five years — Craig Biggio (2007), Mark Loretta (2008), Kaz Matsui (2009-10)

3B Chris Johnson — Making his first Opening Day start.

1B Brett Wallace — Wallace hit .377 and was among the Grapefruit League leaders with 18 RBI.

C Humberto Quintero — Led team with a .471 batting average in the spring.

P Brett Myers — This is Myers’ fourth career Opening Day start, all of which have come at Citizens Bank Park. He started for the Phillies from 2007-09.

Myers plans to keep emotions in check for Opening Day

Brett Myers, in his first public comments since he was told he was going to start on Opening Day for the Astros, downplayed the assignment, saying he didn’t want to get too worked up and lose focus of the task at hand.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Friday that Myers would get the ball April 1 when Houston begins the season in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Myers will be the first Astros pitcher other than Roy Oswalt to start on Opening Day since Wade Miller in 2002. Oswalt had made eight consecutive Opening Day starts, a club record.

“If I read too much into it, it’s like one of those things where you get too amped up for something and then you have to control your emotions and be able to pitch,” Myers said. “It is Opening Day and it’s kind of like a playoff game, but you’re starting the season. So you have to control your emotions and try to make pitches and don’t get too hyped up. I’m not thinking too much about it right now.”

This will be Myers’ fourth Opening Day assignment in five years. He was the Phillies’ Opening Day starter from 2007-09, and he said he doesn’t anticipate any extra emotions pitching against his former team.

“I won’t know until I get there,” he said. “I pitched there last year so I think I should be OK. It is Opening Day and there will be a lot of adrenaline going. I try not to think too much about it and go out there and make pitches.”

 

Astros go for sweep against Phils

If you gave up on the Astros a few months ago, you’re missing out. No, they’re not going to the playoffs, but this team plays with energy and emotion and has slowly bought into Brad Mills’ philosophy of playing the game the right way. Early in the season, they weren’t hitting and weren’t excecuting on defense, but they’ve brought it all together.

Just ask the Phillies, who are in danger of being swept at home by the Astros. The Astros send left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (9-12, 4.00 ERA) to the mound today against Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 4.58 ERA) in an attempt to polish off a four-team sweep at Citizens Bank Park. The Astros have won four consecutive games, all on the road, and are 40-35 since June 1.

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Michael Bourn — Hitting .400 against the Phillies this year

2B Anderson Hernandez — Making his seventh start of the year

RF Hunter Pence — His 30 RBIs since the All-Star break are third in the NL

LF Carlos Lee — Has 23 RBIs in his last 25 games

3B Chris Johnson — Leading the NL in hitting (.376) since the All-Star break

1B Brett Wallace — Hitting .200 in August

SS Angel Sanchez — Making his 38th start

C Jason Castro — Hitting .188 in August

LHP Wandy Rodriguez — Allowed a total of five earned runs in last six starts

Never-say-die Astros do it again

Say what you will about the Astros, but their play during the month of August has been quite impressive. Credit goes to manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff for getting the most out of their players. Carlos Lee has raised his game to another level since Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman got traded, and young guys are stepping up. They’re hungry for jobs and ready to prove themselves.

Tuesday night’s 16-inning win over Phillies featured so many heroes it would be difficult to single them all out. The bullpen threw seven scoreless innings, with Fernando Abad and Jeff Fulchino throwing two innings each and Mark Melancon gutting his way through three innings on a night when overworked Brandon Lyon wasn’t available.

There was the hustle of Tommy Manzella, who made two terrific plays to rob Carlos Ruiz of hits in the ninth and 11th innings and then hustled down the line in the 16th to beat the throw at first and allow the Astros to push another run across the plate.

There was Chris Johnson banging out four hits in six at-bats, including the game-winner in the 16th, to raise his batting average to .340. There was catcher Jason Castro staying in the game in 13th after he was struck by a ball and dropped to the dirt. Not that Castro had much of a choice considering the Astros used all of their players.

In the last two weeks, the Astros have shown an uncanny ability to come back late in games, which is the kind of stuff young teams normally don’t do. It’s just enough to give you hope that Mill has this team heading in the right direction.

Here are some notes from Tuesday’s marathon game:

  • Game time was 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • The teams combined to use 43 players and throw 533 pitches
  • Bud Norris allowed one run in six innings and has a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts
  • It was the longest game for the Astros since a 16-inning loss in Atlanta on July 6, 2008. That game also featured a long rain delay
  • The Astros are 7-4 in extra innings
  • The Asros are 14-7 all-time at Citizens Bank Park, the best record by an opposing team
  • Wilton Lopez’s career-best scoreless streak ended at 20 innings when he allowed a homer to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning.
  • Tim Byrdak has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances under his belt and has posted a 0.93 ERA in his last 30 games.
  • Mark Melancon (three) and Fernando Abad (two) set career highs in innings pitched
  • The only players not on the disabled list who didn’t play for the Astros were starting pitchers Nelson Figueroa, J.A. Happ and Brett Myers and reliever Brandon Lyon, who has been used a bunch lately.

Oswalt happy for Berkman

Roy Oswalt, who fell to 6-13 after losing his Phillies debut on Friday, was excited to hear long-time friend and Astros teammate Lance Berkman was being sent to the Yankees in a trade that is expected to be announced Saturday.

“I think it will be good for him,” he said. “Sometimes you get a change of scenery, it turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. I think it will be great for him to get back in a pennant race and feel the excitement of it. In ’04 and ’05 when we made up all that ground and got to go to the World Series, that’s where the real baseball is.”

So what about the prospect of Oswalt’s Phillies and Berkman’s Yankees facing off in the playoffs?

“He was actually the first person I called when I got traded,” Oswalt said. “He was saying the worst part was going to be facing me. I’ve been watching him for 10 years, so I kind of know where to throw him.

 

Are the Astros done dealing?

Are the Astros done dealing? It’s likely, but you can rest assured general manager Ed Wade will be exploring many options up until Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline. Lance Berkman said Thursday night the club had not approached him about a deal, and I’d be really surprised if he gets traded at some point soon.

It’s been reported Brett Myers is untouchable, but Jeff Keppinger‘s name has been thrown around in some rumors.

“We’ll stay actively engaged in conversations right up until 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon and beyond,” Wade said. “This is is a deadline where we can trade players without securing waivers. That doesn’t mean that every player gets claimed on waivers after the fact. We’ll try to get as many players as we can through the waiver system, and if opportunities present themselves btewen now and Saturday afternoon and thereafter, we’ll continue to work that and see where it leads.”

Oswalt reacts to trade

Roy Oswalt went to an empty clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon and cleaned out his locker. He was scheduled to fly to Philadelphia later in the day to start a new life with a new team. Oswalt will start for the two-time defending NL championship Phillies on Friday night against the Washington Nationals.

“It’s exciting for sure,” Oswalt told MLB.com. “I think it works out for both of us. Houston’s getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I’m getting to go to a great team. I’m happy for both sides. From the very beginning, I said I wouldn’t accept it unless it worked out for both of us, and I think it worked out.”

Oswalt said leaving Houston was hard.

“I think probably the toughest part was packing up my locker, for sure, knowing I started here and have to leave now,” Oswalt said. “Just like I said, it’s going to be good for the organization, and I think it will be good for me, too. The organization has been great to me, and I hope they get back in it and get back to the playoffs real soon.”

When the deal was done, Oswalt called longtime teammate Lance Berkman, who along with Wandy Rodriguez are the only remaining players from the 2005 World Series team, and said his goodbyes. He telephoned former teammate Brad Lidge on Thursday night to gauge the atmosphere in Philadelphia.

“You’ve pretty much got an All-Star at every position,” Oswalt said. “They have a real good team as far as a union. I talked to Brad Lidge last night about the clubhouse and he likes it a lot up there with guys like Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino and some other great guys. Overall, it came down to Houston getting something for me and I was getting to go to a contender.”

Oswalt, 32, was drafted in the 23rd round by the Astros in 1996 and reached the Majors five years later, going 14-3 in his rookie season. He posted back-to-back 20-wins seasons in 2004 and 2005 to lead the Astros to the NLCS in 2004 and World Series in 2005. Oswalt held the Cardinals to one run and five hits in seven innings to win Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS en route to being named the NLCS Most Valuable Player.

He was 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA this year and had some of the worst run support in the league, which played into his decision to request a trade. He is second on the Astros’ all-time wins list with 143, just one behind Joe Niekro.

“I wish the best for the organization,” Oswalt said. “The fans have been behind me for 10 years. There are no hard feelings on my side. Houston has done everything I’ve asked, and I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me. I’m hoping to have a chance to pitch in the playoffs and the World Series. I’m hoping to get back there and experience again what we did in ’05.”

 

Oswalt approves deal, headed to Phillies

Roy Oswalt, arguably the greatest pitcher to wear an Astros uniform, is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Oswalt told the Astros on Thursday afternoon he would waive his no-trade clause in order to approve a trade to the two-time defending National League champions, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com. The two sides were working the finalize and the deal, which is expected to be announced today.

The Astros and Phillies reached a deal Wednesday night to send Oswalt to the Phillies if the pitcher agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ and Minor League outfielder Anthony Gose and Minor League shortstop Jonathan Villar are headed to the Astros, who are also expected to pay a portion of Oswalt’s contract.

When reached by MLB.com earlier Thursday afternoon, Oswalt said he hadn’t made a decision.

“No news yet,” he said.

Oswalt is owed about $5 million more this year and is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there’s a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million. He said last week the option wouldn’t be an issue when it came to approving a trade.

Oswalt (6-12, 3.42 ERA) was scheduled to pitch Friday in an attempt to tie the club’s all-time wins record of 143. The late Joe Niekro holds the record with 144 career wins and will hold that honor for the near future.

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