Results tagged ‘ Brandon Lyon ’

On Lyon’s comeback, Social Media Night and your Astros creating a national buzz.

When Brandon Lyon stood at his locker in Arlington last June and explained the details of the surgery he faced the following week, I remember thinking, “it’s over.”

The issue wasn’t so much that Lyon had a rotator cuff that needed fixing or a labrum that was partly responsible for the cyst that delayed his start to the 2010 season. My skepticism came from the mere fact that the surgery he was to have, which involved moving a biceps tendon back to its proper slot, had never been performed on an active pitcher.

It wasn’t a new surgery by any stretch. But the success rate of a Major League pitcher returning to the mound after undergoing this particular procedure?

There wasn’t one, because no one had attempted it. Until Lyon.


Because Lyon is locked into a rather expensive contract and will be paid $5.5 million this season, the last one of his three-year contract, I knew the Astros would be very patient with him during Spring Training. But in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much.

We are now over the quarter-mark of the season, and I am more than willing to admit this about Brandon Lyon: I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

He’s allowed three runs, total, and none since April 23. He’s had seven appearances in May, all scoreless. Opponents are hitting .143 against him this month.

There was little question about Lyon’s role as closer heading into the season. Given the severity of the surgery he had, there was no way the Astros could possibly believe with 100 percent certainty Lyon would be able to resume the duties of arguably the most important piece of a bullpen.

The Astros did the right thing in giving that job to Brett Myers, who has done a good job as closer and provided stability to a young bullpen. But Lyon’s contributions should not go unnoticed. He appears to be on his way to a very solid comeback season.

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We’re just over a week away from our second Social Media Night, featuring third baseman Chris Johnson (@cjastros23). For those who aren’t familiar with these events, they take place on the Budweiser Patio and include a slew of perks: a game ticket, batting practice viewing, t-shirt, dinner, dessert and an opportunity to win signed baseballs during Twitter Trivia.

Johnson will be with the crowd in the Bud Patio from 5:10 to 5:25 p.m., in advance of the 6:15 start time against the Reds. He’ll hand out the prizes during Twitter Trivia and will pose for photos with the winners (which I will email to you directly).

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here. Hope to see you there!

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Cool links:

One of the many qualities about Astros radio announcer Dave Raymond that makes him so unique is his ability to take two items that seemingly have absolutely nothing in common and find a parallel.

Exhibit A can be found in his new blog, Everybody Reads Raymond. Ninety-nine times out of 100, you’d be hard pressed to draw comparisons between Charles Dickens and Myers. But our man Raymond finds a way.

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If you’ve been watching the Astros closely this season, you’ve probably noticed most of their games — regardless of whether they won or lost — have been, as I like to say, highly entertaining.

The games have, for the most part, been close and even in losing situations, they’ve been winnable in the later innings. In layman’s terms, that means this team is a fun one to watch.

Scott Miller of CBS Sports, among others, has taken note. Hence, “Astros draw buzz by being competitive.”  Check out the photo they picked to illustrate. No surprise there.

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Keep an eye on Wilton Lopez.

Matt Lindstrom is going to be on a hiatus from closing games for the Astros for the time being, and although we do not yet know how temporary or permanent that break will be, keep an eye on an interesting closer candidate: Wilton Lopez.

Lopez was called on to finish off Tuesday’s win over the Mets. He was given that opportunity mainly because Brandon Lyon has been pitching a lot lately and needs some rest, but these are the types of situations that pop up and give a young pitcher a chance to show he can handle the job.

Lopez is an interesting study. He’s only 27 yet has been in professional baseball since 2002, when the Yankees signed him as a non-drafted free agent from his native Nicaragua. Ed Wade picked Lopez up off of waivers from San Diego in April of 2009 and he spent the entire season with Double-A Corpus Christi, until late August, when the Astros called him up to the big leagues.

This year, Lopez has slowly emerged as one of the Astros’ most reliable relievers and continues to respond favorably when put in more challenging situations. One of the most important stats for a reliever is how many times he comes to a game with runners on base and allows those runners to score. Lopez has inherited 26 runners this year, and has stranded 25 of them. That shows that not only is he pitching well, but he can answer the bell in stressful situations, and seeing he’s being used in the later innings, he clearly can handle performing when the game’s on the line.

Is he closer material? That’s to be determined. But he’s growing on manager Brad Mills, who has gushed about how much Lopez embraces the tough situations. He simply likes to be right in the middle of the action, and there’s no more drama-filled situation than the ninth inning when his team is ahead by three or fewer runs. Keep an eye on this right-hander. He just may turn into something pretty special.

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Postgame notes after a 4-3 Astros win:

Houston starters have not allowed more than two runs in each of their last seven games, posting a 2-0 record and 1.79 ERA over that span. The club is 4-3 in those games.

Hunter Pence connected for his 17th and 18th homers of the season and has now reached base safely in 22 straight games, a career long streak. The run started on July 23 and since that date, Pence has hit .383 with five homers and 22 RBIs and a .404 on-base percentage.

Michael Bourn started against Johan Santana and went 2-for-4. In his career, Bourn has hit Santana well, going 4-for-8 against the southpaw.

Angel Sanchez extended his hitting streak to five games, during which he’s hitting .318. Sanchez has now hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games.

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Thanks to everyone who signed up for our first Social Media night, scheduled for Aug. 31. We sold out of the event but judging from the favorable response, we’ll surely be having more of these in the future. Look for multiple Social Media nights in 2011.

Participants (and non-participants, if you wish) are invited to vote on what we serve for dinner on Aug. 31. The choices are listed below but you MUST vote over Twitter. So tweet me your vote, and we’ll reveal the winner soon.

Choice 1: MONSTER CHICKEN NACHOS: Crispy Sherriff Blaylock Tortilla Chips, Grilled Chicken, Charro Beans, Premium Queso, Pico De Gallo, Salsa Rojo and Fresh Sliced Jalapenos.

Choice 2: TEXAS SIRLOIN BURGER
Grilled Fresh Ground Sirloin Burger on a Bakery Fresh Onion Roll topped with Pancetta, Mushrooms, Beer Battered Onion Ring, Cheddar Cheese, Tangy Bar-B-Que Sauce, Blonde Bar-B-Que Sauce, Lettuce and Tomato with Bacon & Blue Cheese Potato Salad.

Choice 3: SMOKEHOUSE BALLPARK BBQ SANDWICH
Pulled Smoked BBQ Pork served on a Pretzel Roll, Pepper-Jack Cheese, Sweet Pickle Chips and Beer Battered Onion Rings served with Country Cabbage Slaw.

Dinner will be capped off with Blue Bell Half Pints and Fresh Baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Yum!

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Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com

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