May 2012

Astros weekend roundup: Dog Day roundup, and a new Twitter for the seamhead population.

The sight of hundreds of dogs walking around the warning track is entertaining enough, but the added element of the sparkly doggie costume only enhances the festive nature of Dog Day at Minute Maid Park.

Whether it’s sunglasses and rock star fur-dos or the Astros logo shaved onto a dog’s side, this promotion always brings out the creativity in our dog-loving fanbase that participates in the Pooch Parade every year.

The promotion is popular among players as well — spotted at the Pooch Parade were Bailey Brutus Norris, Harley Johnson, Sophie Buck and Daisy Bogusevic. (I think there’s a trend among your Astros, considering the majority of their pups are of the bulldog variety.)

Bud and Bailey Brutus Norris.

Travis and Summar Buck and Sophie.

Chris Johnson and Harley.


Sunday’s ceremonial first pitch involved a Cocker Spaniel named Jenny, a foster dog who was diagnosed with bone cancer last December. With the help of the volunteers at the Cocker Spaniel Rescue of East Texas, Jenny created a bucket list and since then has made appearances throughout Texas helping to bring attention to the program and raise awareness for animal rescue.

With the help of retired NASA astronaut Michael J. Forman, Jenny was at Minute Maid Park on Dog Day to check the final box on her bucket list, a ceremonial “first fetch” with the Astros.

Starting pitcher Lucas Harrell was more than accommodating:


The amount of statistical information available these days to not only teams, but also to the fans who follow them, can be a little overwhelming. But if you’re a seamhead, you can’t get enough of it: the WAR, the VORP, the OPS, the BABIP…and if you know what they actually mean, you’re even more ahead of the game.

In other words, you’d fit in well with the Astros’ baseball operations staff.

To share their insights, select staffers on the baseball side have created a new Twitter handle: @AstrosAnalysis. They’ll post info they find interesting, whether it’s a cool stat or a detailed article that breaks it all down, seamhead style.

Give them a follow if you please…

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Astros lineup 5/6 vs. Cardinals. Roof closed. First pitch: 1:05 p.m. CT.

Los Astros lineup 5/5 vs. Los Cardinals. Roof open. First pitch: 6:05 p.m. CT

Pink in the Park event draws players, coaches and raises thousands for Methodist Cancer Center.

The Houston Astros Pink in the Park Brunch and Bazaar — an annual event that douses Minute Maid Park in pink hues as far as the eye can see — raised $145,000 for The Methodist Cancer Center on Friday.

Most of the Astros players and coaching staff attended the brunch, which was designed to raise awareness for breast cancer and research. This was the third year in a row the Astros have hosted the event.

The luncheon featured a panel discussion that included input from Dr. Angel Rodriguez, director of the Methodist Triple Negative Breast Cancer Clinic, Roberta Schwartz, a breast cancer survivor and executive vice president at The Methodist Hospital, Maryanne McCormack, a breast cancer survivor and founder of Visible Changes Hair Salon and Sara Lyon, whose mother, Joan, is a breast cancer survivor. Sara is married to Astros reliever Brandon Lyon.

In addition to the team, several members of the Astros’ staff attended the event, including owner Jim Crane, General Manager Jeff Luhnow, President and CEO George Postolos and Vice President of Marketing/Strategy Kathleen Clark. Broadcasters Jim Deshaies, Dave Raymond, Brett Dolan and Francisco Romero were also in attendance. Astros in Action Foundation board member and honorary chair Shawn Taylor delivered introductory remarks to the crowd.

The Astros and the Methodist Cancer Center are providing pink-themed items to 10,000 fans at each of three early May games to promote breast cancer awareness.  The pink promotions include a pink belted tote bag (May 4), a pink Yoga mat (May 6) and a pink pashmina scarf (May 7).

Wandy and Luz Rodriguez.

Bud Norris, Brandon Lyon, Jason Castro.

Marwin Gonzalez, Jose Altuve.

Fernando and Myla Rodriguez

Jason Castro with his fiancee, Maris Perlman.

Brandon and Sara Lyon and Sara’s mother, Joan Chipman.

Wesley and Sherrel Wright.

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Astros lineup 5/4 vs. Cardinals, plus preview of tonight’s shooting star uniform. Roof open.


Players and their pooches to gather at Minute Maid Park. Life is ruff.

Rollie Castro

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ballplayers over the years, it’s they’re unwaveringly loyal to two groups: their moms, and their dogs.

Dog Day at Minute Maid Park is this Sunday, May 6, and you can bet you’ll see Bailey Brutus Norris, Rollie Castro, Harley Johnson and Sophia May Buck in attendance. They might linger around the Astros dugout a while, but for good reason: their owners (fathers?) play for your Astros, and they’re more than a little excited for this doggone fun promotion.

Rollie Castro, named after the Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, is a rambunctious little guy who covered a lot of territory in the outfield at Minute Maid Park once the leash came off. Bailey Norris is still learning how to fetch — he’s got the running-after-the-ball part down pat, but once he gets to the ball, he just keeps running. They’re working on it.

As for Harley Johnson and Sophia May Buck, drooling and snorting appear to be their top two favorite activities, followed by drinking water, finding shade and fighting over a pink frisbee.

What a week.

Dog Day on Sunday will begin with the Pooch Parade around the field, which gives owners and their dogs an opportunity to flaunt their Sunday best while being captured on the giant scoreboard. (Pooch poopie picker-uppers will follow in the back, just in case.)

Dog Day offers two price packages. The $40 Dog Day Bullpen Box Package includes two Bullpen Box tickets — one for the owner, one for the pup, with access into the “Barking ROom Only” section in Conoco Alley. The tickets also include entrance to the Dog Zone at KBR Plaza and the Pooch Parade.

The $20 dog Standing Room Only ticket includes SRO tickets for you and your dog, plus access to the “Barking Room Only” area in Conoco Alley, the Dog Zone in KBR Plaza and the Pooch Parade.

To order tickets, click here. And when you’re parading around the warning track, be sure to look for your Astros players and their pups. Woof!

Jason Castro and his dog, Rollie, during a calm moment (there weren’t a lot of those).

Bailey Brutus Norris and his pal, Bud.

Chris Johnson, Travis Buck and their snortin’ bulldogs.

Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! for your Astros

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Keuchel, Chapman, Barnes among Astros Minor League Players of the Month.

The Houston Astros Player Development Department has named the following Players of the Month for April: Oklahoma City: LHP Dallas Keuchel, IF Scott Moore, OF Fernando Martinez; Corpus Christi: LHP Kevin Chapman, OF Brandon Barnes, IF Jose Martinez; Lancaster: RHP Ruben Alaniz, OF Telvin Nash, IF Jonathan Meyer; Lexington: RHP Mike Foltynewicz, IF Zach Johnson, OF Andrew Muren. These awards are chosen every month by the field staff of each team.

Triple A Oklahoma City

LHP Dallas Keuchel, Pitcher of the Month: 4-1, 1.62 ERA (6ER/33.1IP), 16 SO, 7 BB in 5 starts in April

IF Scott Moore, Offensive Player of the Month: .397 (25×63), 12 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI in 23 games in April

OF Fernando Martinez, Defensive Player of the Month: 22 games in the OF, .976 FP (1E/42TC), 2 OF assists this season

Notes: Dallas Keuchel finished April with a 4-1 record and a 1.62 ERA in five starts, which tied for the organizational lead in wins and ERA…he began his season strongly, winning the first Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week Award in 2012 after opening the year with two scoreless starts (13IP)…Scott Moore’s current .347 (25×72) batting average ranks second among all Astros minor leaguers…Fernando Martinez has played 22 total games in the outfield this season, 21 in left field, posting a .976 fielding percentage with two outfield assists.

Double A Corpus Christi

LHP Kevin Chapman, Pitcher of the Month: 1-1, 1.38 ERA (2ER/13IP), 19 SO, .260 (13×50) opponents avg. in 9 relief apps. in April

OF Brandon Barnes, Offensive Player of the Month: .353 (30×85), 18 R, 14 2B, 4HR, 21 RBI, .398 OBP in April

IF Jose Martinez, Defensive Player of the Month: 23 games at 2B, 1.000 FP (0E/116TC), 14 double plays turned this season

Notes: Kevin Chapman, acquired this spring in the Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero trade to Kansas City, posted a 1.38 ERA in nine relief appearances, while fanning 19 hitters in 13.0 innings pitched…Brandon Barnes, who currently leads the Texas League in batting average and doubles, has already twice been named the Texas League’s Player of the Week this season…Jose Martinez has not committed an error in 22 games this season, 116 total chances, as Corpus Christi’s everyday second baseman.

Class A Advanced Lancaster

RHP Ruben Alaniz, Pitcher of the Month: 2-0, 2.90 ERA (10ER/31IP), 26 SO, 7 BB in 5 starts in April

OF Telvin Nash, Offensive Player of the Month: .247 (19×77), 14 R, 2 2B, 9 HR, 15 RBI in 20 games in April

IF Jonathan Meyer, Defensive Player of the Month: 24 games at 3B, .952 FP (4E/84TC), 54 assists this season

Notes: Ruben Alaniz, an undrafted free agent signed out of high school in 2009, went 2-0 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts with Lancaster in April…in his two home starts, at the extremely hitter-friendly Clear Channel Stadium, Alaniz is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA (3ER/13IP)…Telvin Nash leads the California League and all Astros minor leaguers with his nine home runs in 22 games this season…Jonathan Meyer has been named a Defensive Player of the Month in the Astros system for the fifth time in his four-year career, after posting a .952 fielding percentage in 24 games as Lancaster’s everyday third baseman this season.

Class A Lexington

RHP Mike Foltynewicz, Pitcher of the Month: 3-1, 1.98 ERA (6ER/27.1IP), 27 SO, 10 BB in 5 starts in April

IF Zach Johnson, Offensive Player of the Month: .275 (25×91), 13 R, 9 2B, 4 HR, 30 RBI in 24 games in April

OF Andrew Muren, Defensive Player of the Month: 21 games in the OF, 1.000 FP (0E/42TC)

Notes: Mike Foltynewicz, the Astros first-round pick and the 19th selection overall in 2010, went 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his five April starts…Foltynewicz currently ranks fourth in the South Atlantic League in ERA…first baseman Zach Johnson, led all Astros minor leaguers in RBI in April and currently ranks second in the SAL in that category…Andrew Muren has not committed an error in his 21 games in center field this season.

Astros lineup 5/2 vs. Mets. Roof closed. First pitch 1:05 p.m. CT

Previewing the next Flashback Friday with Jersey Boys Brownie and J.D.

Another Flashback Friday is on the horizon, and a calendar flip from April to May means it’s time to roll out a new throwback jersey.

This Friday (May 4), the Astros will wear the shooting star jersey the team wore in the 1960s, after the name changed from Colt .45s to the Astros and the team moved into the brand new Astrodome.

Rusty Staub, one of the original members of the 1965 Astros, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s game. He will also sign autographs from 6-6:30 p.m. CT. Autograph vouchers (with proceeds going to the Astros In Action Foundation), can be purchased here.

In advance of your Astros playing dress-up on Friday with their cool throwback uniforms, we’re giving you a sneak peek at the jerseys, via popular television broadcasters Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies:

Who knew throwback jerseys could be so entertaining?

Brownie, channeling his inner Madonna by striking a pose.

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Astros lineup 5/1 vs. Mets. Roof open. First pitch 7:05 p.m. CT.