May 2011

Astros lineup 5/4 at Cincinnati. First pitch 11:35 CT.

Astros lineup 5/3 at Cincinnati. Skies clearing, looks like game’s a go

Programming note: the spotlight is on Michael Bourn.

Prior to the Astros-Reds game Tuesday, FS Houston will air a special on center fielder Michael Bourn, tracing his path as a young boy growing up in Houston to a now Gold Glove outfielder for his hometown Astros.

“Spotlight: Michael Bourn,” produced by FS Houston’s Patti Smith, examines Bourn’s bond with his dad, Ray, as well as his friendship with fellow MLB All-Star Carl Crawford. Also included in this feature is the deeply personal loss his family went through when his older brother died tragically, before Michael was born.

FS Houston interviewed a slew of people for this show, including Bourn’s parents, Ray and Carrie, plus Crawford and Bourn’s high school coach. We’re also  going to see a lot of fun photos, like these:

In one segment, Ray Bourn remembers how athletic Michael was, even as a baby.

“I kind of realized at an early age that he was an athletic kid,” Ray Bourn said. “One day we were watching a baseball game and I rolled the ball and he was 10 months old and he brought the ball back to me and I rolled it again and thought, ‘well it’s on now.'”

As time went on, “The problem I had I didn’t know his limitations,” Ray said. “I’m hitting the ball probably twice as hard as I should be hitting to him and he’s still stopping and catching everything and I’m wondering what do I do. I didn’t want to scare him because he was real aggressive and eventually I did and he was able to handle it and I know there was something special there. So I began to test him and see his limitations and weaknesses…and he was
actually above where he should be by at least two or three years.”

The show airs Tuesday at 5 CT, before the Astros’ 6:10 CT game in Cincinnati.

Carlos Lee’s ribcage is bruised, not broken. Plus news and notes from a 5-0 win.

As we receive the good news that a CT scan of Carlos Lee’s ribcage revealed a contusion, and not a break, here are a few notes, tidbits and observations following the Astros 5-0 win on Sunday:

** The series win was the first at home for the Astros this season. They have one other series win, which occurred in New York when they took two of three from the Mets.

** Brett Wallace is hitting a staggering .538 (21-for-39) during a career-long 10-game hitting streak that began April 19. Over 27 games played in 2011, the first baseman is hitting .382 (34-for-89) with nine doubles. He has yet to display the power the team believes will come over time — he has just one home run and has driven in nine runs — but he’s walking a lot, and that is encouraging.

When a young player shows patience, a keen eye and consistently gets on base, he’s giving strong indications he could be a long-term staple in the middle of the order. That’s why the Astros traded for him, and it appears they’re getting a pretty solid return on that 2010 deadline deal.

A lot of you have been clamoring for Wallace to be moved into the cleanup spot. While we still don’t know how long Carlos will be sidelined or how Brad Mills will manipulate his lineup in the interim, I’d have to think Wallace will see at least a little time in that spot. I don’t buy into the speculation that they shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on a young player while he’s still developing offensively. Wallace has the demeanor of a 10-year veteran. He can handle the four-hole.

** Meanwhile, Jason Bourgeois, arguably the leading candidate to start in left in Lee’s brief absence, has had a nice month. He’s hit safely in all five games he’s started this year, averaging .364 (8-for-22). He’s hitting .361 overall and is eight-for-nine in stolen base attempts.

** Here’s why I have been telling people for some time now that this team isn’t as bad as its record might indicate: Over the six games of the homestand, the starting rotation posted a 2.39 ERA. Yes, overall, the Astros’ entire pitching staff has one of the highest ERAs in the league. But the starting rotation is too good to be this bad, so to speak, and if the bullpen can work through its issues — and getting Wilton Lopez back from the disabled list should be a huge lift — the team should start playing a lot better than it did in April.

The defense has already improved with Clint Barmes taking over at short, and that should help shorten the innings, which will be a huge lift for the pitchers. There’s no doubt April was painful. May could, and should, be better.


What they’re tweeting:

@brettwallace29: Big series win…Let’s keep it going

@budnorris20: Huge series win. Carlos in our prayers tonight. No word yet. On the road again. W!

@jbourgeois1st: Great series win today. Shouts out to @BudNorris20 for A1 pitching performance. Now on to Cincinnati.

As a reminder, in addition to these three, @brianbogusevic, @hunterpence9 and @cjastros23 are also on Twitter.


And finally, a big congratulations to longtime home clubhouse/equipment manager Dennis Liborio, who was honored on Friday for his 31 years of service to the Astros. During an on-field ceremony before Saturday’s game, Liborio, who moved into an emeritus role last year, was presented with a ring to commemorate his longtime status with the team, on behalf of the Major League Baseball Equipment Managers Association and New Era.

Brewers clubhouse manager Tony Migliaccio, club owner Drayton McLane, Astros home clubhouse manager Carl Schneider and visiting clubhouse manager Steve Perry joined Liborio on the field for the presentation:

Schneider, Perry, Liborio, McLane, Migliaccio

Dennis, congratulated by Brad Mills

I've been calling him Diamond Denny for about 10 years, and now that seems entirely appropriate.

Astros lineup 5/1 vs. Brewers. Roof closed. First pitch 1:05 CT