There were plenty of good things happening in the Houston Astros’ system yesterday, as we went 3-3 as an organization. But there was certainly some bad, too, as well as some just plain ugly.
Lexington Legends (A): Lexington had a doubleheader today to make up for Friday’s postponed game against the West Virginia Power (PIT). Some surprising names stepped up in Game 1, which the Legends won 6-3. Most notably, outfielders Steve Brown (2-for-4, 1 R, 1 SB) and Brandon Barnes (2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI). But overshadowing them both was catcher Federico Hernandez, whose three-run homer with two out in the fifth proved to be the game-winner. The performance of prospect Ross Seaton was encouraging, if not overwhelmingly so. Seaton earned the win by throwing 5.0 innings, striking out two and walking as many, with three hits and two runs allowed, one of them earned. West Virginia’s 1B Calvin Anderson had a great game, going 3-for-3 with all three of West Virginia’s RBI, on two home runs, including a two-run shot off of Seaton, in the losing effort.
Lexington Legends (A): In the second game of the doubleheader, everything went Lexington’s way en route to a 13-2 drubbing of West Virginia. Too many Legends to mention had multi-hit games. It was every bit a team effort – though 13 runs were plated, no single hitter had more than 2 RBI. Shorstop Ronald Ramirez seemed to be the only guy struggling, adding two fielding errors to his 0-for-3 night, but even he had a walk and an RBI to help soften the blow. Lefty Brad Dydalewicz threw five innings of scoreless ball with four walks and a strikeout. One of my favorite prospects, Jose “the other” Trinidad, threw a fairly ugly inning in relief, striking out one and issuing a walk, a hit, and a run.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA): The Hooks scored an early run on a Jhon Florentino home run with two out in the first inning. It was the only one they’d get all night, but it was also the only one they’d need, as they downed the Tulsa Drillers (COL) 1-0. Casey Hudspeth shut the Drillers down (with a little help from his ‘pen), allowing just two hits and three walks in five innings, with three strikeouts. Another favorite of mine, old man Andy Van Hekken (he will turn 30 in July, which is pretty much the Texas League equivalent of 100), allowed just a hit in two innings in relief, and Paul Estrada got the save with a perfect ninth. It was a bit of an unlucky night for Tulsa’s starter, Keith Weiser, who allowed just one hit and one run – Florentino’s tater – while striking out 8 in 5 and a third, proving once again that win-loss records for pitchers don’t tell much of a story.
Lancaster Jethawks (A+): It’s pretty bad when your team’s lone highlight is an outfield assist. On the way to a 6-1 beat-down at the hands of the High Desert Mavericks (SEA), outfielder Jack Shuck gunned down Kuo Hui Lo at third base. All three Jethawks pitchers who made an appearance – Jeff Icenogle, Fernando Abad, and Jordan Powell – had their bad moments, but starter Icenogle really put the icing on the cake, as he beaned three Maverick hitters to go with his five hits and one walk over 4.0 innings. The good news is that he did manage to fan 7 in that time. Koby “Yes, He’s My Dad” Clemens was the DH for the Jethawks tonight, and his 1-for-2 performance, with a double and two walks, was the offensive highlight.
Round Rock Express (AAA): Our good friend Mike, over at Astro-nomical, was at the Express game against the Iowa Cubs (CHC), which the Express dropped 6-1. Starter Jeff Fulchino only went two games before being spelled by Alberto Arias, who was a mess. Arias went 2.1 innings, giving up 6 runs (4 earned… the others courtesy of the fantastic glovework of Mark Saccomanno) on just 2 hits. How is that possible, you ask? Well, walking four people sure helps. Clay Hensley threw 1.2 innings in relief, allowing no hits and just one walk to lower his ERA to a razor-thin 12.00. Mike pointed out to me, in-game, that prospect Eli Iorg (on the Inactive list) was the team’s first-base coach. Chris Johnson, sent down to Round Rock specifically so that he could play every day, did not play. Tommy Manzella was the hitter of the night for the Express, going 3-for-5. Like their big league counterparts, the Express left a lot of guys on base – 11, as a matter of fact, en route to their 0-for-8 night with RISP.
Houston Astros (MLB): I don’t need to tell you how bad the Astros were yesterday, losing to the Cardinals 11-2. You know all the numbers: 8 runners left on base, 1-for-7 with RISP. The boys were finally patient at the plate – making St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright lumber through 86 pitches in four innings – but they still couldn’t get the hit when it counted, as they didn’t score a run at all in those first four frames. Roy Oswalt loves to challenge Albert Pujols, apparently forgetting that the latter is better than all of baseball combined, and Pujols responded with a grand slam and a three-run shot. It’s legitimately hard to find a bright spot for the Astros’ offense. Sadly, it almost has to be Michael Bourn, the much-maligned eighth hitter, who went 1-for-3 with a run, an RBI, and a walk. He saw 6.5 pitches per at-bat… is it just me, or is he alternating games where he’s going 1-2 pitches per at-bat and games where he’s seeing 6-8? Like he has to go home and remind himself.