Astros Notes: Pence, Altuve, Minor League prospects and Twitter.

Hunter Pence rarely gets days off, so when he wasn’t in the lineup Wednesday, so close to the trade deadline…well, people started to get a little worried.

Pence’s name comes up at least three times a day in trade rumors, and while no one has any idea what will happen between now and Sunday’s deadline, fans are probably justified in being a little jumpy about the popular right fielder. Pence diffused any panic/rumors about why he wasn’t playing by telling reporters manager Brad Mills had told him the night before he was getting a day off. There was nothing more to it than that.

Pence probably needed a breather, perhaps to clear his head but also to give his body a break. The game time temperature at first pitch has rarely dipped below 90 degrees for any of the first six games of this road trip, beginning with a sweltering Chicago and continuing on to a suffocatingly hot and humid St. Louis. Given how intense Hunter is and how hard he pushes himself — even during batting practice — it would be easy to burn out a little during this long road stretch.

“He didn’t get an All-Star break,” Mills said. “And he’s been struggling after the All-Star break. The weather on this trip is extra warm and he wears himself out because he plays so hard.”

(Turns out, Pence to pinch-hit late in the game and stayed in to play right field)

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Meanwhile, down on the farm…

Henry Sosa, arguably the more interesting of the two pitching prospects the Astros received from the Giants in the Jeff Keppinger trade, struck out nine batters in seven innings on Tuesday in Double-A Corpus Christi’s 11-1 win over San Antonio. Sosa allowed three hits and one unearned run in the outing. Over two starts for the Hooks, he has not allowed an earned run and has struck out 14 over the course of 14 innings.

Top outfield prospect J.D. Martinez continues to hit and hit and hit. He logged three hits in five at-bats in the landslide win over the Missions, improving his season batting average to .339. First base prospect Kody Hinze was 2-for-3 with a fifth-inning home run and has compiled a .354 average in 18 games with the Hooks. Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (part of the Lance Berkman trade from last year) was 3-for-5 with one RBI and is hitting .267 on the year.

At Class A Lexington, last year’s No. 1 pick, Delino DeShields, has had a nice two-week stretch, batting .381 (21-for-55) over his last 14 games. He’s also hitting .329 in the month of July.

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How about that Jose Altuve? He bypasses Triple-A all together and spends the first seven games of his Major League career hitting like an All-Star. He has hit safely in all seven games, logging 11 hits in 26 at-bats for a .423 average. He tied the franchise record for the longest hit streak to start a career, matching Russ Johnson (1997).

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We have added one more Astro to our Twitter family: infielder Matt Downs. Actually, he signed up for an account a while back, but it took some time for him to activate it — and understandably so. He spent the last few weeks anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child, and now that Matthew Russell Downs II is comfortably sleeping, eating, crying and pooping back home in Alabama, Downs (the original) is ready to Tweet. Give him a follow, if you please, at @DownsTown16.

Elsewhere in the Twitterverse:

Funny tweet from radio announcer Brett Dolan:

Bourgeois just said Bourn “horse laughed” him and nearly fell down when he found out Jason is batting 3rd tonight. I like the hijinx.

From Jerry Seinfeld:

I love when Baseball Broadcasters say, ” He’s playing like the David Wright of old.” What is this, The Canterbury Tales?

From Joe Posnanski:
Funny, I wrote about having dinner with Marv LEVY, and THREE different people made back biting jokes. #ThatsMarvAlbert

From AstrosOneLiners:
Brownie, on new turf at Busch: “I hear they got the turf shipped here from Colorado.” JD: “I’ve heard you can get good grass in Colorado.”

From Brian McTaggart:
Here’s the stat of the day: Astros are 6-0 this year when entering game on a five-game losing streak.

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Questions? Email afooter@astros.com

1 Comment

Let’s hope that’s all he does to match russ johnson! I remember liking Johnson too, but he could never really get it all going right.

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