Home on the Range(rs)

The Astros need more run support to move up in the standings. Photo Courtsey: Rick Leal
The Astros need more run support to move up in the standings. Photo Courtesy: Rick Leal

By Will Martin

The 2013 season began with a bang for the Houston Astros when Justin Maxwell hit two triples while Rick Ankiel cranked out a pinch hit homer for an 8-2 victory.

Since that March 31st game the Texas Rangers have made easy pickings of the Houston Astros, culminating in a three game sweep of the newest tenants this past Mother’s Day weekend by scores of 4-2, 8-7, and 12-7.

Adrian Beltre with a four hit game and Jordan Lyles placing Houston in a hole they could not quite get out of. Nick Tepesch with enough run support to get the ‘W’.

At just 22 years old, RHP Jordan Lyles is the 2nd-youngest pitcher to start a game in the AL this season (4th-youngest in Majors).

1. Jose Fernandez, MIA, 07/31/1992
2. Julio Teheran, ATL, 01/27/1991
3. Trevor Bauer, CLE, 01/17/1991
4. Jordan Lyles, HOU, 10/19/1990
5. Shelby Miller, STL, 10/10/1990

This talk with Chris Carter was conducted last month…

With the sweep by the Rangers and (beginning of homestand) sweep by the Tigers in extras 7-3, 4-3, 17-2, and 9-0 there was but one shining moment for this 2-8 homestand. Taking two of three from the Angels of Anaheim. It should have been a sweep but an 8th inning meltdown of relief by Veras and company changed all that on Wednesday. The night before it was Chris Carter putting a charge on CJ Wilson for a five run inning and plenty of run support.

The record shows Houston at 10-28. Worst start ever in their franchised history. If you factor in seven 1-run losses this could very easily be a team sitting at 17-24. Alas, a 14 game deficit in the A.L. West and many questions as to how much of a youth movement the Astros will resort to.

The Good
A strong outing by RHP Bud Norris led the Astros to a 3-1 victory over the Angels Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park…Norris hurled 8-plus innings to pick up the win, allowing one run while improving his record to 4-3…Jose Veras pitched out of a 1st and 3rd, no out, jam in the 9th to earn his 4th save…Matt Dominguez (2×3), Marwin Gonzalez (2×3, RBI) and Jimmy Paredes (2×4, 2 2B, RBI) had multi-hit games…Chris Carter added his club-best 8th HR (solo).

Since the start of the 2012 season, RHP Bud Norris is 7-2 in 16 home starts with a 1.89 ERA (22ER/105IP) with 102 K’s. Best Home ERA Since 2012 – Starters 1. Justin Verlander – 1.72 2. Clayton Kershaw – 1.83 3. Bud Norris – 1.89

More Good?
Since the start of the 2011 season, RHP Jose Veras is 2nd among all MLB pitchers in appearances with 165, trailing only RHP Matt Belisle (170)…in that span, Veras has tallied 174 K’s in 152.0 IP with a .224 opp. avg. Most App. – Since 2011 1. Matt Belisle – 170 2. Jose Veras – 166 3. John Axford – 164

3B Matt Dominguez leads all ML  3rd basemen in fielding pct. with a .990 clip, and is 2nd in total chances (101) and assists (74)…his error on 4/20 vs. CLE was his first of the season and just his 2nd in his last 62 ML games at 3rd base (58 starts).

One Tall Order
Jose Altuve leads all 2nd basemen in batting with a .338 clip and is T-3rd in the Majors among all players in hits with 50…defensively, Altuve leads all ML 2nd baseman  with 37 double plays turned.

BA Avg. As 2B              Most Hits – MLB
1. J. Altuve – .338        1. M. Cabrera – 53
2. D. Pedroia – .329     2. M. Machado – 51
3. O. Infante – .325     3. J. Altuve – 50
4. I. Kinsler – .322       3. A. Jones – 50

Matt Dominguez became the second Astro to enjoy a multi-hit night in 2013 along with Chris Carter on 4/9 in last night’s 8-7 loss. With the loss going to Phil Humber last year’s perfect game thrower has now been designated for assignment with Edgar Gonzalez being signed to a Major League contract.

The combined record of the Astros minor league clubs is 84-56 (.600),  which is T-1st among all organizations…in 2012, the Astros had the top combined minor league record domestically (were last in both 2010-11).

1. Houston Astros: 84-56 (.600)
1. Minnesota Twins: 84-56 (.600)
3. New York Mets: 78-58 (.574)
4. San Francisco Giants: 80-61 (.567)
5. Texas Rangers: 79-61 (.564)

The Oklahoma City RedHawks have the best record in the PCL with a 22-13 (.629) mark…the Corpus Christi Hooks (21-14, .600) have the best record in the Texas  League…CC’s RHP David Martinez is T-1st in the TL  in wins (5-0) and is 3rd in ERA (1.25)…CC’s OF George Springer leads the TL in HR (12), RBI (29) and OPS (1.033)…Springer was HOU’s first selection in the 2011 June Draft. It won’t surprise me in the least if George gets the callup in September.

The Astros go on the road for six beginning with three at Detroit (Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, and Dallas Keuchel to battle Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer) followed by the Pirates. The trip to Motown will be the first since 2006.

I hope to be back in Houston to catch some Astros action Memorial Day weekend when the Athletics and Rockies come to town. For those keeping track in Arlington the overall series record with the Astros-Rangers favors Texas with a 47-31 record. Houston in 16-25 at home, and 15-21 in Arlington.

Next meeting for the Silver Boot strappers will be July 5th-7th in Arlington. I will be there!

Upcoming Schedule
5/13   @Tigers   7:08 p.m.
5/14   @Tigers   7:08 p.m.
5/15   @Tigers   1:08 p.m.
5/17  @Pirates  7:05 p.m.
5/18  @Pirates  7:05 p.m.
5/19  @Pirates  1:35 p.m.