Tag:Houston Astros
Posted on: May 20, 2010 2:49 pm

Kaz, we hardly knew ye ... but for one loooong AB

Scuffling badly and sinking quickly, the Astros on Tuesday bid farewell to infielder Kaz Matsui, releasing him into the great beyond.

Matusi's Astros legacy?

Well, he said hello in the spring of 2008 by missing several days after being unforgettably diagnosed with, and it pains me to type this, an anal fissure.

He essentially said goodbye last Saturday in San Francisco with a memorable 15-pitch battle with Giants closer Brian Wilson.

It was the longest at-bat in the majors since last July 16, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Luis Rodriguez, then of San Diego, battled Colorado's Matt Daley for 16 pitches.

It also was a duel that Wilson, who eventually got Matsui to fly to left with two out and the bases loaded to nail down the save in a 2-1 Giants win, will not soon forget. Even as Matsui fades away and searches for his next job.

"It was definitely the longest at-bat I've gone through at any level," Wilson said. "I've probably gone eight or nine pitches a few times, but to have someone foul off eight pitches in a row. ..."

The at-bat also was a textbook illustration of how, while starting pitchers need three or four pitches to work through lineups, relievers -- closers especially -- usually work with just one or two pitches. Wilson threw 14 fastballs to Matsui, mixing in just one other pitch: A slider at 2 and 2 for the eighth pitch of the at-bat.

I talked with Wilson the other day about the at-bat and we ran through it:

"I went to 0 and 2 right away with fastballs up and away," Wilson said. "Then I threw another fastball up for a ball, and then another up for a ball."

Three of those fastballs were clocked at 98 m.p.h., the fourth was 97.

Wilson's strategy was simple: Blow the ball by the light-hitting (.141) Matsui.

However ... Wilson pumped three more 98 m.p.h. fastballs, and Matsui fought off all three with foul balls.

After the first foul on the 2 and 2 count. ...

"When he fouled that off, I kind of laughed," Wilson said. "I was like, 'OK, let's put it in play.'"

Little did he know.

Seven fastballs into the at-bat, the count still 2 and 2, Wilson changed gears: His eighth pitch was a slider.

"I was going to try and sneak back door and try and catch him off guard," Wilson said. "I'm pretty sure I did. But he still got a piece of it."

Next pitch, back to the fastball, a 98 m.p.h. heater that missed for ball three.

That was it for any semblance of creativity: The next seven pitches were all fastballs between 96 and 98.

The thinking there?

When the slider missed for ball three, Wilson felt he was too close to the edge of the cliff to chance throwing another slider.

"I'm not going to walk in the tying run with a slider," he said. "No."

So with the runners going, Matsui fouled off four more fastballs.

Finally, he flied to left. Ballgame.

"It was fun," said Wilson, whose enjoyment of the moment undoubtedly was directly related to his success.

Funny thing was, very next day, the two staged an encore. Matsui came back to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two on in the ninth, two out and Wilson trying to preserve the Giants' 4-3 lead.

This time, he fanned Matsui on seven pitches.

"Of course he'd come to the plate against the next day," Wilson said, chuckling. "That's how it works, isn't it?"

Matsui was hitting .141 with just one extra-base hit in 78 plate appearances when the Astros released him. Chances are, Wilson will remember him far longer than Houston fans.

Likes: This look at Bryce Harper, the probable No. 1 pick in the draft this summer, from Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. ... The Pepsi commercial, geared around the "Refresh" campaign, featuring "conversations" between major leaguers, such as Yankees ace CC Sabathia and pitching coach Dave Eiland meeting at the mound during a game. Sabathia suggests putting an organic garden in the bullpen, while Eiland counters with a suggestion of arranging a group hug for all New Yorkers. ... Throwback Pepsi and Throwback Mountain Dew. Real sugar, like the old days, instead of corn syrup. A far cleaner drink with no filmy aftertaste. I dig each of them and wish they would be permanently available in the grocery stores instead of just temporarily. ... The Rolling Stones re-issue of Exile on Main St. Haven't picked it up yet, but with special packaging and 10 bonus songs, it's gotta be cool. Will pick it up soon. ... Long bicycle rides.

Dislikes: Still not thrilled with interleague play, and here it comes again this weekend. ... Can't believe I haven't been to In-N-Out burgers since I've been home from spring training. That's so weak. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn?
"Your mom came out with just a towel on
"I could tell she liked me from the way she stared
"And the way she said, 'You missed a spot over there'"

-- Fountains of Wayne, Stacy's Mom


Posted on: December 9, 2009 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2009 7:00 pm

Astros acquire reliever Lindstrom from Florida

INDIANAPOLIS -- Just hours after the departure of LaTroy Hawkins to Milwaukee weakened their bullpen, the Houston Astros acquired reliever Matt Lindstrom from the Florida Marlins, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Lindstrom served as the Marlins' closer for part of 2009, going 2-1 with 15 saves and a 5.89 ERA in 54 appearances. A 29-year-old right-hander who originally was drafted by the Mets in 2002, Lindstrom is expected to compete for Houston's closer role this spring.

In return, the Marlins will receive two minor leaguers, right-hander Robert Bono and shortstop Luis Bryan, according to multiple reports. The deal is pending medical examinations.

Posted on: April 23, 2009 12:29 am
Edited on: April 23, 2009 12:30 am

Aaron Boone: Post-surgery progressing well

Four weeks after open-heart surgery, Houston infielder Aaron Boone is thrilled with his progress.

Why, on Wednesday afternoon, he even drove himself to a haircut appointment, the grocery store and to "a very light workout" near his home in the Phoenix area.

"The big thing is fighting fatigue," Boone said during a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon. "The first two weeks, the littlest things would make you tired."


The guy isn't quite ready to play nine innings yet, but he's making very steady progress.

And he hopes to play nine -- or, at least, a few innings -- before this season ends.

Boone, 36, was diagnosed in college with a congenital defect in his heart where the valve had two -- not the normal three -- cusps to manage blood flow. He had it checked every year, but it wasn't until this spring that his cardiologist determined that it had reached the point where he needed to have it repaired.

So he left Houston's camp in March, and surgeons replaced his bicuspid aortic valve at Stanford University.

He's not supposed to lift anything heavier than five pounds during the first six weeks, and he can gradually increase that between the sixth and the 12th weeks following surgery. He's on blood thinners now for a little while longer, and he's looking forward to getting through these first 12 weeks following surgery.

"By 12 weeks, you can do whatever you want," he says. "I'm even thinking about trying to play later this year. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But it would be cool to show myself I can do it."

The Astros, he says, have been in very close contact.

"Houston has been awesome," Boone says. "They've treated me like I've been there for 12 years. I'm really appreciative."

He's also been inundated with well wishes from throughout baseball.

"It's been overwhelming," Boone says. "I'm so appreciative of the number of messages from very close friends and family, and the random people who have called. It's been very touching."

He was hoping to travel to Houston for the Astros' next homestand -- May 6-10 against the Cubs and San Diego -- but he probably will have to wait for the following homestand (May 19-24) unless he acquires an assistant in the next several days.

See, it's difficult to travel when you're still under doctors' orders not to lift more than five pounds.

Here's wishing Boone the very best, a complete recovery and a return to the field this season, if that's what he wants.

And in the meantime, whenever his playing days are finished, I know of one talent he's got that definitely should keep him involved in the game. Check it out here.

Likes: Aaron Boone making a strong recovery. Best news of the day. ... The Detroit News' Tom Gage and his excellent piece on the late Mark Fidrych. ... The Pirates, winning? Really? You go, Buccos. Look forward to seeing them soon. ... David Newhan signing with the Phillies as a player-coach at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... You can never go wrong with Rubio's Fish Tacos.

Dislikes: Brutal scoring decision in the first inning in Anaheim on Wednesday night when Tigers right fielder Ryan Raburn butchered a Maicer Izturis fly ball. Inexplicably, it went as a double instead of a two-base error. Worst scoring decision I've seen in a long, long time. And making it worse, three batters later, Kendry Morales blasted a three-run homer when Justin Verlander should have been out of the inning. Ugh. ... I really like Amy Poehler, but from what I saw of her new show the other night, Parks and Recreation, she's finally met something that can make her not funny. And that's really hard to do.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So buy this fool some spirits and libations
"It's these railroad station bars
"With all these conductors and the porters
"And I'm all out of quarters
"And this epitaph is the aftermath
"Yeah I choose my path"

-- Tom Waits, Bad Liver and a Broken Heart



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com