Tagged in: Houston Astros

Astros Justin Verlander out 6 weeks after groin surgery

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander underwent surgery on his right groin Tuesday and is anticipated to miss at least six weeks. 

“Initially, the hope was that physical therapy would be the proper course of action,” general manager James Click said in a statement. “However, after a recent setback in his rehab, the medical staff recommended that a surgical procedure was necessary. The early prognosis is that Justin will be out for about six weeks.”

Verlander’s initial timetable would put him out until the beginning of May.

Whether he misses any on-field action will be dependent on MLB’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

MLB indefinitely suspended its season last week, and there is no firm timetable for a return.

“I would say it would probably take a miracle for me to be back by Opening Day,” the 37-year-old Verlander told reporters afterward. “But I don’t want to take miracles off the table. … Talking with doctors and looking at the scans, it’s definitely not worst-case scenario. Best-case scenario would be nothing. It’s just probably somewhere in the middle of that.”

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The CDC suggested the cancellation or postponement of events with 50-plus attendees for the next eight weeks as health officials attempt to slow the spread of the virus. 

Houston initially was scheduled to open its season March 26. Since, baseball has shut down, pushing the start of its season back until at least mid-May and remaining optimistic it can squeeze in a 162-game schedule.

Verlander, 37, is coming off his second Cy Young Award in 2019. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, striking out a career-high 300 batters. He has made at least 30 starts in 13 of his 14 full MLB campaigns, a remarkable stretch of health that’s a rarity for a modern-day pitcher.

The baseball implications of his injury cannot be determined until play restarts. However, if Verlander misses time, Zack Greinke will take over as the Astros ace.

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Jose Altuve grazed by pitch, Astros booed in first away game of spring

Jose Altuve said he tuned out the hecklers. He couldn’t evade a pitch that grazed him.

“He was hit in the foot. That ain’t nothing, you know what I mean?” Astros manager Dusty Baker said Monday after an 11-1 win over Detroit at half-empty Joker Marchant Stadium. “It wasn’t intentional.”

Altuve was loudly booed when he was introduced for his spring training debut, cheered when he struck out and called a cheater by several fans. Quite a difference from past years, when the diminutive All-Star second baseman was among the most popular players in the majors.

But that was before Altuve and his Houston teammates were involved in the sign-stealing scandal that’s rocked baseball. “We just heard a lot of noise, and that’s it,” Altuve said.

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Altuve and fellow starters Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel all played for the first time in the exhibition season.

After Houston opened the Grapefruit League in the stadium it shares with the World Series champion Nationals, this was the first time the Astros were away from their complex — providing a taste of the reaction they might receive on the road this year.

“We were focused on playing baseball. We know that we need to go on the field and get ready and prepared for the coming season,” Altuve said. “That’s what we’re thinking about right now.”

Detroit’s starting pitcher Matthew Boyd, who fanned Altuve in the first inning, said it wasn’t difficult to block out the booing and heckling and remained focused on playing the game.

“It’s spring training. Honestly, let’s let it die. What’s done is done. I know how everybody feels, but no one is going to change anything now,” Boyd said.

“The punishment’s been handed out, the line’s been drawn in the sand. Hopefully that shuts it down, and it’s just best for everyone to move forward. They’ve got to live with it. That’s more than enough punishment.”

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Astros interview Buck Showalter and John Gibbons for managerial vacancy

The Houston Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for their managerial vacancy, ESPN has confirmed.

The Astros interviewed Showalter on Wednesday, two days after they released manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

The Astros also will interview former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Showalter has 20 campaigns of major-league managerial experience under his belt. The three-time Manager of the Year also interviewed earlier this offseason for the manager job with the Phillies, who lastly hired Joe Girardi.

Showalter, 63, last managed in 2018 with the Orioles, who went 47-115 and parted ways with him after the season. He owns a career record of 1,551-1,517.

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Gibbons, 57, is 793-789 over parts of 11 seasons in two different stints with Toronto. He managed the Blue Jays to back-to-back appearances in the ALCS in 2015 and 2016 but did not return to the club after going 73-89 in 2018.

The laid back Gibby who usually appears calm and collected could be just what the doctor ordered for a Houston squad seeking new leadership.

Gibbons was in the Manager’s chair when Astros closer Roberto Osuna went through his legal troubles following a domestic abuse allegation while a member of the Blue Jays in 2018.

Owner Jim Crane in his press conference stated the team needs to move forward with a clean slate and always do the right thing. Gibby’s undeniable character and ability to manage players from all walks of life may be just what Crane and company need to build the Astros back up.

Hinch and Luhnow were released Monday after being suspended by Major League Baseball for the Astros’ illicit use of electronics to steal signs during Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season.

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Astros´ Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch fired for sign stealing

Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will likely forever be tied to the team’s sign-stealing polemic, but he insisted he is not a cheater.

Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle shared Luhnow’s statement in which he accepted responsibility for the violations that occurred under him but clarified: “I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity. I did not know rules were being broken.”

Former manager AJ Hinch also released a statement that was not as brazen but said, “while the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.”

ESPN’s Jeff Passan stated Luhnow and Hinch were both suspended for one year as part of the penalties levied against the Astros. The team was also fined $5 million and stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

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Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reported Astros owner Jim Crane adopted to fire Hinch and Luhnow in the aftermath of the punishments.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported on the Astros’ sign stealing in November. Four people who were with the team during the 2017 championship campaign, including pitcher Mike Fiers, said the American League West club used a camera positioned in the outfield as a way of stealing opponents’ signs in real time.

Gabe Lacques of USA Today noted the league interviewed 68 witnesses and also sent out memos in 2017, 2018 and 2019 warning against electronic sign stealing and saying general managers and managers would be held most accountable.

Rosenthal and Drellich also reported the 2018 Red Sox used technology to help steal opponents’ signs on their way to a World Series title. Luhnow became the Astros’ general manager in 2011, while Hinch was the manager since the 2015 campaign.

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Nationals force World Series Game 7

It’s been an unusual road to Game 7 of the World Series for Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.

Seizing the October spotlight he missed out on as a youngster, Strasburg pitched another postseason gem into the ninth inning Tuesday night as the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 7-2 to tie this Fall Classic at 3-3.

Juan Soto ran all the way to first base with his bat following a go-ahead homer, the same way Houston slugger Alex Bregman did earlier.

Yep, these wild-card Nationals have matched the heavily favored Astros swing for swing, hit for hit – even home run celebration for home run celebration.

Now, it’s onto a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night to resolve the only Series in which the visiting team won the first six.

”It’s weird, really. You can’t explain it,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. The Nationals will try their ultimate comeback in a year when they were written off time after time, hoping for the first title in the 51-season history of a franchise that started as the Montreal Expos and the first for Washington since the Senators in 1924.

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Visiting teams have won three straight Game 7s in the Series since the Cardinals defeated Texas at home in 2011.

”I don’t think there’s a person in the building that would have assumed that all road teams were going to win,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. ”We’ve just got to make sure that last one is not the same.”

Washington rebounded from a 19-31 start – the Nats were given just a 1.6% option to win the Series on May 23 – to finish 93-69. They rallied from a 3-1 eighth-inning deficit against Milwaukee in the NL wild-card game, a two-games-to-one deficit vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series and a 2-1, fifth-inning deficit in Game 6 vs. the Astros.

Outscored 19-3 at Nationals Park while going 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position, the Nationals got the strong outing they needed from Strasburg, who allowed his only runs in the first inning, struck out seven and walked two while throwing 104 pitches. ”It was a mental grind out there, especially after the first,” Strasburg said. ”Just got to keep fighting.”

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Astros hammer Nationals to take 3-2 lead in World Series

The Houston Astros handed the ball to Gerrit Cole, and he gave them a firm grip on the World Series.

Minus ailing ace Max Scherzer, the Nationals were no match in this Washington wipeout.

Cole looked exactly like the stud who dominated baseball most of this season, bouncing back from a Game 1 clunker to pitch the Astros to a 7-1 win Sunday night and a 3-2 lead.

Slumping rookie Yordan Álvarez and Carlos Correa hit early two-run homers off emergency starter Joe Ross, George Springer added another postseason drive and Houston won its third straight at Nationals Park.

What a turnaround, too — outscored 17-7 overall at Minute Maid Park, Houston hammered Washington 19-3 at Nationals Park.

Scherzer beat Cole in the opener, and was the Nats’ best hope to slow Houston. But he was scratched just 3 1/2 hours before game time because of an irritated nerve near his neck, an injury that could finish him for the Series.

With the road team winning every time so far, Houston heads home with two chances to claim its second title in three years.

Justin Verlander gets the first try when he starts against Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 on Tuesday night. Cole threw three-hit ball for seven innings, nicked only by Juan Soto’s home run in the seventh, and struck out nine.

Justin Verlander gets the first try when he starts against Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 on Tuesday night. Cole threw three-hit ball for seven innings, nicked only by Juan Soto’s home run in the seventh, and struck out nine.

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Cole’s mix of 99 mph heat and sharp breaking balls induced a bevy of bad swings from the Nats as he improved to 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA this postseason. It might’ve been his final start for Houston — he’s eligible for free agency and figures to command a steep price.

Standing tall on the mound, Cole was unflappable in the face of 43,910 fans who went from fired up to furious to flat-out frustrated.

The crowd gave Ross a huge ovation when he walked onto the field for warmups, sympathetic to his situation — he had pitched a total of two innings in almost a month.

Cole ended his outing by getting Victor Robles on a called third strike, a pitch the TV zone showed to be off the plate. Robles chucked his bat, helmet and gloves, and crowd soon began a derisive chant at umpire Lance Barksdale. Cole led the majors in strikeouts this year, was second to Verlander in wins and topped the AL in ERA. Yet he hardly looked like an October star in Game 1, giving up five runs over seven uneven innings.

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Astros turn to Verlander, looking to close out Rays

After getting walloped by the Rays 10-3 Monday in Game 3 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field, Hinch flipped the win switch to on, announcing the Astros will be going with Verlander on short rest Tuesday to try to close out the Rays. The Astros lead the series, 2-1.

Hinch made the right move because he has the best insurance policy right behind Verlander in Gerrit Cole, who has won 17 straight games.

Cy Old will go Tuesday and, if needed, Cy Young will pitch Game 5 in Houston on Thursday. Hinch is betting on Verlander so there will be no need for a Game 5 starter, and Cole would be good to go in Game 1 of the ALCS. That would put Verlander in line to be on regular rest for Game 2.

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the world,’’ Hinch said. “No more complicated than that. He’s ready, and it’s his game.’’

Remember, after Verlander defeated the Rays in Game 1, Kevin Cash said, “We got Verlander-ed.’’ It is simple and it’s also a testimony to how good the Rays are because Hinch is saying, “If you are going to beat us, you are going to have to do it in five games and go through Verlander and Cole.”

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Verlander acknowledged he has not been used in a situation like this in the last few years, saying, “Closest we came was out of the bullpen a couple years ago in Boston. I mean, the thought process is five-game series are pretty crazy and we’ve got to win. Never know what can happen. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket and say, ‘If we lose [Tuesday], we’ve got Justin and Gerrit on Game 5.’ It’s a crazy game.

“The last couple days, I’ve felt pretty good. A.J. and I have been discussing it. He made the call.’’ This series is all about Big Game starters. The Astros got it in their first two starts with Verlander and Cole throwing 14 ²/₃ innings of shutout baseball and the Rays got it Tuesday from Mr. Elimination Game, Charlie Morton, who did his winning thing once again through five innings.

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Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics

Houston Astros at Oakland AthleticsCheck WagerWeb and find the best online betting site!!!!

Sonny Gray (12-7, 2.36 ERA) and the Oakland Athletics (59-79) take on Scott Kazmir (7-9, 2.50 ERA) and the Houston Astros (75-63) in a game that has the potential to be low scoring. This is the second of a three-game series at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics won the last game 10-9 and Oakland leads the series 1-0. Action begins at 10:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sep. 8 and can be seen on CSCA and RTSW.

Gray pitched 5.0 innings in his most recent start, surrendering six runs, striking out two and walking one in a 9-4 defeat to the Angels. Kazmir went 4.1 innings, surrendering two runs (one unearned), striking out five and walking two in an 8-3 defeat to the Mariners in his last outing. Carlos Correa (.281, 39 Rs, 17 HRs, 50 RBIs, 11 SBs) went 1 for 5 yesterday with one run, one home run, and four RBIs.

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Oakland is a slim -110 favorite at home against Houston. The matchup has an estimated Over/Under (O/U) of seven runs. The Athletics have an overall money line of -2,876 and a record as the favorite of 32-36. Oakland has had a discouraging season against division opponents, earning records of 16-17 and 26-32 as the favorite and SU respectively. The Athletics have seen an uptick in scoring against teams inside their division, averaging 4.7 runs per game. They average 4.2 runs per game on the season. Oakland’s pitching staff has been doing poorly against opposing offenses during the last 10 games, allowing an average of 6.2 runs per game, well above its season average of 4.2. The Athletics are the fourth-best team in the AL at limiting hits to their opponents, allowing only 8.3 hits per game so far this season.

In games where it is the underdog, Houston has a 30-28 record and an overall money line of +573. They have managed to pull off a perfect record over their last ten games while playing as the underdog, and have a 5-5 SU record over the same span. The Astros can change the game with one swing of the bat, ranking second in the league with 188 home runs. The Astros are an excellent base stealing team with 103 stolen bases, ranking third in the MLB. Houston’s pitching staff has set the standard for its league, with an AL-low 3.29 ERA. When it comes to preventing batters from getting on base, the Astros are one of the best in the league with a WHIP of 1.18 for the season.

The Athletics have a bad 12-28 record against left-handed starting pitchers on the year, which is what they’ll be facing when Kazmir takes the mound. Gray (RHP) will be on the hill against the Astros, who have a 49-41 record against right-handed starting pitchers.

 

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