Results tagged ‘ Tigers ’

Martinez enjoying time in Detroit

J.D. Martinez has found a home in Detroit, but the former Astros outfielder was looking forward to seeing some of his friends and former teammates this week during the Tigers’ series against Houston.

“It’s going to be exciting seeing the guys again,” said Martinez, who was drafted and developed by the Astros before being released in March. “It’s weird. You look across and everybody is looking at you and waving at you and you want to go over there and hang with them and say hi, but you can’t. I can’t explain it. It’s just exciting.”

Martinez was called up by Detroit after hitting .308 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 17 games at Triple-A Toledo. He wasn’t in the lineup for Monday’s series opener, but was hitting .278 with four RBIs in 18 games off the bench.

Martinez said being on a winning team with a deep lineup has removed some of the pressure he felt with the Astros, where often felt a burden to drive in runs.

“There’s so many guys in the lineup here that you don’t feel like you have that pressure on you,” he said. “We have a really good lineup over there, but it’s different. These are experienced guys, they’re the guys that have done it. You kind of just go out there and if there’s guys on, you try hard to get them, but if not it’s not the end of the world. I know the guy behind me is just as good, and he’s probably going to get him. When you’re winning, there’s a lot less pressure.”

And Martinez admitted he was caught off guard when he found out how down-to-earth stars like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were.

“All these guys have been around the game for so long and done so much,” he said. “You think they would have egos and stuff, and it’s the complete opposite. None of the guys have egos. They’re all like little kids. It was the coolest thing, talking to Miggy and the way he was and the way he talks. He was so humble. I had an out-of-body experience talking to him. You’re like, ‘Wow, is this really the Triple Crown winner?’”

Martinez credits much of his success this year to the adjustments he made in winter ball and again in Spring Training, where he worked on keeping his bat in the zone longer.

“Once I got my timing, I felt like, ‘OK, it got it now’ and it kind of rode into the season,” he said.

Astros lineup vs. Tigers

Astros lineup Sunday vs. Tigers:

CF Robbie Grossman

LF Fernando Martinez

C Jason Castro

1B Carlos Pena

DH Carlos Corporan

3B Brandon Laird

RF Rick Ankiel

SS Ronny Cedeno

2B Marwin Gonzalez

RHP Philip Humber

Game 4: Wallace, Castro stay hot in win over Tigers

What happened:  The split-squad Astros got a two-run homer from Jason Castro — his second in as many games — and a solo shot from Brett Wallace to pull away from the Tigers for a 9-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at rainy Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

For the game story and boxcore on the Astros’ 7-2 split-squad loss to the Rays in Port Charlotte, click here.

What we learned: C Jason Castro feels as good at the plate as he has in a long time, going 2-for-2. He homered to left-center field in his first at-bat and later singled, also to the opposite field. He has two homers in two games this spring. He’s made a minor adjustment to allow him to stay on the ball a little bit more and drive it the other way.

“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and been getting some good pitches, trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I know it’s early in spring and guys throw a lot of fastballs right now. I’m trying to take advantage of that and it’s been good so far. The swing feels really good and I think I’m seeing the ball well. So that’s part of it. That’s what I’m looking for right now is comfort-ability and getting back in the rhythm of hitting and facing live pitching.”

What we learned II: The work IF Brett Wallace put in during the winter with hitting coach John Mallee is paying quick dividends. Wallace went 3-for-4 with a long homer to center field in the win while starting at third base.

“The ball I hit to center was a changeup, and that was something we worked on, being able to stay on my legs and if it’s not a fastball down the middle that I won’t come out of them and I will stay back on them,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely something we worked on and it’s encouraging and I just have to try to repeat it over and over.”

What else: SS Tyler Greene did a nice job at top of the lineup with two walks. Porter said when you’re not getting hits you sometimes get anxious, but it was a good sign for him to expand the zone and take his walks. … RHP John Ely, who’s battling for a starting spot, allowed a two-run homer in the fourth before coming back with a clean fifth. … OF Michael Burgess, who was taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, made a nice diving catch in foul territory to end the game. … RHP Josh Fields got on the mound for the first time, closing out the eighth and finishing the Tigers off in the ninth. … OF Robbie Grossman and OF Trevor Crowe each had two-run extra-base hits in the fifth.

What went wrong: Wallace, starting at third base, made a fielding error in the fifth inning that led to a run, but manager Bo Porter shrugged it off: “I think he knocked in more than he let in.”… Minor League IF Nolan Fontana had a throwing error.

What they said: “From a hitter standpoint, this is the time of year that you really want to work  on being on time with the fastball. Castro laid out some great swings, [Rick] Ankiel laid out some good swings, Wallace swung the bat well today. From a pitching standpoint, our pitchers did a great job, especially the starters [Erik] Bedard and Ely, of locating their fastballs well,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.

Here’s Erik Bedard, Brett Wallace, Jason Castro and Bo Porter on the game:

What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired from the Rockies in a trade for Wilton Lopez in December, will make his first start of the season for the Astros when they travel to Dunedin, Fla., to meet the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Wednesday. He was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 23 games (20 starts) for Colorado last year.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to get an MRI and see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.

Links of the day: Jose Martinez, who was MVP at Double-A Corpus Christi last year, has overcame an unthinkable tragedy and has taken advantage of his second chance with the Astros. Here’s video of Martinez talking about his struggles:

The Astros notebook has Ambriz and Stassi talking about their injuries, prospects Nolan Fontana and Mike Foltynewicz on their appearance on the spring roster, Wallace on his comfort level at third base, plus much more.

The day in photos

Bud Norris.

My man Bud Norris.

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Delino DeShields.

Delino DeShields.

Brett Wallace.

Brett Wallace.

Dallas Keuchel.

Dallas Keuchel.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana and Robbie Grossman.

Max Stassi and Robbie Grossman.

Game 27: Myers hits wall against Tigers

It was an ugly Monday in Kissimmee, where the Astros gave up 18 hits and were routed by the Detroit Tigers, 9-1, at Osceola County Stadium. Of course, the big news of the day came in the morning. Astros manager Brad Mills announced Nelson Figueroa would get the final spot in the rotation after Jordan Lyles was reassigned to Minor League camp.

Here’s the breakdown of Monday’s game.

What went right: The best sight of the day was left-hander Wesley Wright, featuring his new sidearm delivery, coming on with the bases loaded in the sixth and getting three consecutive outs, allowing one runner to score on a sacrifice fly. He was the only Astros pitcher to take the mound and be charged with any runs allowed.

All four of the Astros’ hits were by their starting outfielders. Michael Bourn went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. Both of his hits, including a bunt hit in the fifth inning, came against Tigers left-hander Phil Coke. Hunter Pence, who drove in the Astros’ only run in the first inning, and Carlos Lee each had one hit.

What went wrong: Brett Myers, making his second-to-last spring start before taking the ball on Opening Day for the Astros, gave up 12 hits, three walks and five earned runs in five innings, pushing his spring ERA to 9.00 in five starts. Myers said it simply wasn’t his day.

It’s not unusual for Myers to give up hits, considering his aggressive nature. The Tigers came out aggressive at the plate and had Myers worn out by the sixth inning, which he and manager Brad Mills consider a good thing.

“I hit a wall in that last inning and got a little tired,” he said. “That’s good because I needed to go through that to be able to get where I needed to be.”

Myers said his goal next time out is to throw more than 100 pitches. Mills said he would have to sit down with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and map out a plan for Myers’ final start.

Wilton Lopez, who hadn’t allowed a hit or a walk in his first six outings of the spring, allowed one hit and one run in one inning, but struck out two batters. Jeff Fulchino gave up two hits and a run in one inning, and Mark Melancon allowed three hits and two runs in one inning. Both have ERAs of 3.86 this spring.

At the plate, Tommy Manzella was 0-for-3 with a walk, Chris Johnson played nine innings and was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, and catcher Humberto Quintero was 0-for-3, lowering his spring average to .393.

What they said: “I felt like I could have had results today, but some balls found the hole. There were some weak ground balls that go through. It’s the game of baseball and that’s what happens. I’d rather give them up now than during the season.” – Astros pitcher Brett Myers on his outing Monday.

What’s next: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who hasn’t pitched since leaving his March 10 start with mild shoulder tendinitis, returns to the mound Tuesday when the Astros face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT in Viera, Fla. Rodriguez, who will start the second game of the year, has pitched in only three games this spring, allowing three earned runs in seven innings in his previous two starts following a rocky debut.

Injury update: Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) took batting practice and is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday at the Pirates.

How about some photos?

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Above: Enos Cabell, a special assistant, gives some advice to third baseman Chris Johnson.

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Above: Matt Downs and Jason Michaels await their turn in the batting cage.

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Above: Michael Bourn practices his jump from third as coach Dave Clark watches.

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Above: Hunter Pence does an interview with some media from Corpus Christi.

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Above: Former Astros closer Jose Valverde stretches at Osceola County Stadium.

Astros-Tigers lineups from Lakeland, Fla.

Greetings from Lakeland, Fla., where the Astros and Tigers will play today. The Astros are taking another squad to Tampa, Fla., today to play the Yankees, with Bud Norris on the mound.

Here’s the scene in Lakeland, where the Tigers have called their Spring Training home for 75 years:




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Here are the lineups:


CF T.J. Steele

2B Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

1B Brian Dopirak

3B Chris Johnson

DH Koby Clemens

C Jason Castro

LF Drew Locke

SS Tommy Manzella

LHP J.A. Happ


CF Austin Jackson

LF Casper Wells

RF Magglio Ordonez

1B Miguel Cabrera

DH Victor Martinez

SS Jhonny Peralta

3B Brandon Inge

2B Danny Worth

C Alex Avila

P Phil Coke

Costly loss for Astros on Sunday

If the Astros’ playoff hopes comes down to the final weekend of the season as they have done so many times in the past, they will be able to point at Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers as perhaps the game that sunk them.

One strike away from polishing off a three-game sweep of the Tigers, Brandon Inge hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Jose Valverde to send Detroit to a win. What makes the loss even more difficult for the Astros is they squandered a great chance to gain ground in the National League Central Division.

The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, who began Sunday tied for first place, both lost. Instead of being three games out, the Astros remain four games behind the division leaders.

“This one hurts real bad,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “Probably the worst one of the year for me. We had a chance to sweep a very good team. We held them at bay all day with some great pitching and then we let it slip. It hurts real bad. I’m going to say that. Real bad. It was a chance for us to get close to the guys at the top, but we let it slip.”

Now the Astros will play their final road trip prior to the All-Star break, beginning with a four-game series at San Diego that begins Monday. The Astros will play at San Francisco next weekend.

“San Diego is a kind of youngish team with a lot of talent, kind of a mixed grab of talent,” Cooper said. “But I think they’re very capable, but we have to go there and not take them lightly. We have to go there and play hard and aggressive the way we’ve been playing.

“San Francisco has a great pitching staff so we have to go there and be ready to play. It’s a big [road trip].”

And kudos for Russ Ortiz for another well-pitched game. He went a season-high 7 1/3 innings Sunday and allowed two runs on six hits to lower his ERA to 3.36 ERA. The Astros have a tough decision ahead when Mike Hampton comes off the disabled list, but Ortiz has certainly pitched well enough to stay in the rotation.