Category: AL West

To the Mullet go the spoils…

Business in the front and party in the back.

A look back at some of the Astro’s favorite Mullets…

#!dcdisplay fp\b0\i0\fs10Code=BBN:National_League_Baseball; Date~07.09.1998; Slug=Reds_Astros; Source=AP; Time~21:02; Type=Picture; ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fs16\bJOHNSONfs12\b0 <> Houston Astros' Randy Johnson delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, Sept. 7, 1998, in Houston. Johnson pitched a complete game shutout as the Astros beat the Reds 1-0. (AP Photo/Tim Johnson) fp\b0\i0\fs10ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fp\i0\b\fs16Digital Collections/IPTC fp\b0\i0\fs10CREDIT~AP; Category~S; Municipality=Houston; Photographer=Tim_Johnson; State~Texas; TransRef~HTA104;

Randy Johnson AKA The Big Unit, came out fierce after he was traded to the Astros at the trade deadline in 1997. He went on to post a 10–1 record, a 1.28 ERA, and 116 strikeouts in 84⅓ innings, and pitched 4 shutouts in 11 starts for the Astros.  Look at that hair flowing in the wind…Now that is a PARTY!!!

 

Infielder Ken Caminiti of the Houston Astros throws the ball during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.

Infielder Ken Caminiti was the one that got away.  We knew he was an MVP in the making and not just because of the “San Jose Partay” he had going on.  He of course ended his story in tragedy.  He will always be remembered though as an ASTRO!!! And the best 3B we ever had. 

Portugal_Mark

Pitch Mark Portugal had his best season in 1993

when he posted 18 wins. Look at that Kentucky

Waterfall…Its a wonder he didn’t win the Cy Young.

Colby rasmus

Which leads to possibly the best Mulley of all.

Colby Rasmus has the makings of a Legend…

An extra base hit in 6 straight postseason tilts

to start his playoff career. Should have been 7 but he

decided to hit the roof at Minute Maid.

Batting .571 in the 2015 postseason

so far.  Be sure to be watching the first pitch too…

-Trey Looney

@3TimesLooney

 

Ken Caminiti  – Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Randy Johnson- (AP Photo/Tim Johnson)

Mark Portugal- (c) Houston Astros

Colby Rasmus-www.veooz.com

Rangers Love Sweet Smell Of Odor

By Mike Moosbrugger

Roughned Odor had a big game last night in the Rangers 5-3 playoff win vs. the Blue Jays.

Roughned Odor had a big game last night in the Rangers 5-3 playoff win vs. the Blue Jays.

There was a sweet Odor circulating in the air at the Rogers Centre in Toronto last night as the Texas Rangers defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 in the first game of this ALDS matchup. Ranger’s second baseman Rougned Odor only had 1 hit in the game but he had a big outcome on the final score. He was hit twice (both pitches were curveballs) by Toronto starting pitcher David Price. Both times Odor came around to score. He later added a solo homerun in the 7th inning off the tough lefty Price to provide the Rangers with an insurance run and the 5-3 lead. Odor also made two outstanding plays on defense in the 5th inning. Not too shabby for a 21 year old left handed hitter in his first ever playoff game who was sent to the minors earlier in the year after a miserable start to the season.

Rougned Odor enjoyed a fine rookie campaign in 2014 as a 20 year old trying to make his way in the majors. He hit .259 with 9 HR’s and 48 RBI’s last year in 114 games and the needle was pointing up with great expectations for 2015.  Odor had a very rough start to his season this year. He batted .144 in the first 29 games and left the Rangers no choice but to send the kid to the minors to get his swing straightened out. He made his Triple A debut on May 12th at Round Rock. Odor skipped Triple A while climbing to the majors last season. To his credit he seized the opportunity and caught fire. At Round Rock he hit .352 with 5 HR’s and 19 RBI’s in 108 at bats. A performance worthy of promoting him back to the majors on June 15th and he promptly went 3 for 3. Odor batted .299 with 15 HR’s from the day he returned to the Rangers lineup through the end of the season.

If you can’t get enough of Rougned Odor after reading this article then please let me introduce you to his younger brother Rougned Odor. The 17 year old with the same name was signed by the Rangers earlier this year and spent his first season playing minor league baseball in the Dominican Summer League. It could just be a matter of time before the Odor brothers from Venezuela are both playing for the Rangers.

The series matchup continues today at 12:30 as Long Island’s own Marcus Stroman will take the mound for the Blue Jays vs. Cole Hamels of the Rangers. Odor bats 8th in the Rangers lineup but he is a key part of this team right now. History has shown that playoff hero’s very often are the players that you least expect it from. On May 11th I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Odor would be in that category.

Photo Credit – USA Today

KC vs. The Sunshine Band

By: Trey Looney

springer

There is no denying the upstart team that the Astros have become this season is part über talent, part youth, and part general attitude. This team is made up of fantastic talent; Built for speed and power, Nails defense, Lively arms. It’s built from homegrown talent where most players are still under their original contracts. (Besides the cubs the youngest team in playoffs) And attitude??? Call it Mojo, moxy, luck, dumb luck, enchantment, wizardry etc…but this team doesn’t know any better. They don’t know to shy away. They don’t know to pucker. They don’t understand intimidation. This team has risen from the depths of 100 loss seasons and they truly feel they can keep rising as long as they believe. AND AJ Hinch has anchored that belief. Molded it. Directed it. Sold it up and down that clubhouse so much so that the buy in is complete and total. This is a team that believes it can win. And that now is the time…

And on AJ Hinch, his hunches have played out beautifully over the last month. So much so they should be called Hinches rather than Hunches. A few cases on that point:

Hinch 1-Continue to believe in a bullpen even when they are struggling to close the season out.

Hinch 2-Sit one of your trade line acquisitions (Gomez) the last month of the season and bring him back for a payback HR in the wildcard game.

Hinch 3-Pitch your ace on 3 days rest and leave him in with 2 on and 2 out in the 6th to face the most dangerous Yankee hitter in A-Rod (of course after going to the mound for a “heartbeat” check.)

Hinch 4-Leaning on Carter who had struggled at the plate all year only to transform himself to HR hitting, On base percentage giant to close the year.

His fingerprints are all over this team. Which is precisely why the rotation decisions should surprise no one going into the playoff series vs the Royals. With McHugh pitching game 1 and a surprise Kazmir for game 2 in KC. Hinch is banking on stealing one in KC and he has a 19 game winner to start and a player who faded the last part of the year pitching in game 2. The Hinch here is that Scott Kazmir has pitched well against this team before. (7 innings, 0 earned runs and only 3 hits, all singles in his Astros Debut)  This also sets up Kuechel in game 3 at home where he is undefeated this season.  The thought is possibly to bring Kuechel back in the 5th game if necessary on 3 days rest again.  (The game 4 and 5 SP’s have not been announced at this point)

First off the Royals starting pitching is hittable. They posted a collective 4.34 ERA which is the highest of all the playoff participants (Astros starters combined for a 3.42 ERA). KC’s bullpen however is a different story and why they like close and late games. The Royals who cruised through the AL last playoffs in a similar run to what the Astros would like this season are still dangerous and now come in with some experience in playoff games. Both teams this season scored a similar amount of runs but they do it in different fashions. KC base by base- Contact hitting, put the ball in play-see what happens. Astros like to take all 4 bases at once, and if they only get 1 they are likely to steal the next one. The Astros  strikeout a lot, The Royals very little.  The Astros walk a lot, The Royals very little. This bodes well for the Astros strong defense but also means they might have a few warning track fly-outs in pitcher friendly KC.  The key will be who gets the timely hit and if the Royals can avoid giving up a big inning early to the Astros who will be looking to post crooked numbers against their starters in these contests.

The Astros owned the season series winning it 4-2 while posting a 3-0 advantage at home.  This is a close matchup on paper but I think the Astros will steal one in KC which will set them up to close it out in Houston.  Astros advance in this series in 4 games.

 

-Trey Looney

Photo Credit- Foxnews.com

Mojo…What Mojo…and on to KC!!!

By: Trey Looney

Kuechel

After pitching 6 strong innings of shutout ball Tuesday night in New York at Yankee’s Stadium, Kuechel sluffed off any talk of only 3 days rest even being a problem going forward.

“I felt better than a week’s rest, I’ll tell you that,” said Keuchel. “I think with the command I need and the stuff I possess, I really feel like I’m better suited for shorter rest than longer rest, and I think a lot of those guys would say the same thing.”

His dominance of course extended further than just last night as he became the all time leader in consecutive shut out innings pitched against the storied NY franchise.  22 innings, 12 hits, 2 walks and 28 K’s.  Do the Math.  For every Base runner that is two Strikeouts, a .545 WHIP, ZERO runs allowed—In other words; Complete Dominance.  Even A-Rod concluded after the 0-4 night that Kuechel already has the stuff of legends, “He’s Greg Maddux from the left side, with a little better slider,” Alex Rodriguez said.

Many pundits felt the youth of this team and the fact that they were going up against a historical juggernaut might make the Astros fade their bravado.  That was simply not the case.  All reports indicated this team was loose and although Tanaka cruised through the first inning The perennial long haired rock-star, Colby Rasmus, didn’t feel any pressure at all golf balling the first pitch he saw deep into the right field seats.

“We had some good vibes going, and with Dallas on the mound, I think that gave us a calming sense,” Rasmus said. “Thankfully I was able to hit that home run to get everybody feeling loose and having fun and not tight. I think we stayed poised in this environment, and guys fed off it.”

Given his propensity for multiple HR’s in a game it was surprising he didn’t jack another one. That’s OK though because Gomez came up in the top of the 4th and deposited his first pitch into the left field bleachers.  Jose Altuve added an insurance run in the 7th on a bloop single to left.  This was after pinch runner Villar had stolen second base getting a great jump on reliever Dellin Betances.  The pitch to Altuve was low and away but he was still able to get the barrel on it and lift it into left field.  For those that have seen Altuve play this season they will know this was classic Altuve.  Taking a pitch outside of the strike zone and simply getting the job done.

This all set the stage for the bullpen when again the pundits raised their heads and declared victory for the Yankees.  The Astros bullpen which had been at times shaky to finish the year off came in and at least at first it looked as if they might give up some runs.  Sipp however pitched through some of his jitters and after a walk got a key strikeout of Greg Bird in the seventh on a perfect 3-2 slider on the low outside part of the plate.  Will Harris followed with a 1-2-3 8th and Luke Gregerson was untouchable in the 9th spotting his fastballs with an untouchable slider.

All of this adds up to a division series with the Royals of Kansas City.  Check out the preview tomorrow in the AM.

No Problem For Houston – Astros vs. Yankees Wild Card Preview

By Mike Moosbrugger

al wild card

Tonight the Houston Astros return to the playoffs after a 10 year absence vs. the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Astros are coming in beaming with confidence and a real youthful exuberance. The Yankees on the other hand seem to look more like the cranky old grandpa that is being annoyed by the grand kids. The Astros have a payroll that ranks 29 out of 30 teams in major league baseball at $72 million. The Yankees payroll is ranked 2nd behind the Dodgers at $217 million. I think we can all agree that it is not about payroll this time of year but it is about performance. Here are few stats that caught my eye with regards to how both teams have played over the last 30 days.

The Astros have several players hitting very well over the last month. Jose Altuve and George Springer are over .300. Carlos Correa the rookie sensation is hitting .279 with 6 HR’s and 22 RBI’s. Carlos Gomez appears healthy again after missing more time in September due to injury. He still managed to hit .325 for the month of September with 2 HR’s. 1B Chris Carter struggles every year to bat over .200 but over the last 30 days he is hitting .341 with 6 HR’s and 12 RBI’s. Other players such as Colby Rasmus, Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis and Luis Valbuena are all hitting very well with power over the last 30 days. Everywhere I look in this Houston lineup I see guys hitting. To make matters worse for the Yankees many of these same players hit tonight’s starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka very hard this year in an earlier matchup. You couple those facts with the potential 2015 AL Cy Young award winner in Dallas Keuchel pitching tonight vs the Yankees and the outlook is bleak to say the least.

The Yankees oddly enough will be going into the playoffs without their best starting pitcher over the last 30 days. Believe it or not CC Sabathia led the starters with a 2.17 ERA over the last month. Sabathia checked into an alcohol rehab center yesterday and is done for the year. Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda have been very bad recently. Tanaka has been good when he pitched. He has only pitched once in the last 18 days due to a hamstring injury. Nathan Eovaldi is out with an injury. Here are the batting stats over the last 30 days that are most troublesome for the Yankee. Chase Headly and Brian McCann are both hitting .173. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are both barely over .200. Alex Rodriguez is hitting .229 but at least he added 6 HR’s and 11 RBI’s. Carlos Beltran has 5 HR’s and 17 RBI’s and Greg Bird has 7 HR’s and 17 RBI’s and they provide the only bright spot for offense going into tonight’s game.

If this was a 5 or 7 game series I would pick Houston to win it hands down. Anything can happen in a one game playoff but I still like the Astros chances. They are a better team with a stronger bench. The Yankees would need a vintage Tanaka performance tonight to have a chance because waiting for the 3 run homer may not be the best strategy to win one game.