Some things to talk about as we pine for more of those blue and gold uniforms...
1) Notes from this weekend - First off, an injury update on Jason Castro, who was really good Saturday night for Oklahoma City. Castro was 3 for 3 with a walk and an RBI and played the entire game at catcher for the RedHawks. It certainly appears that he's ready to return from the DL at any time.
Before Sunday's game, Houston manager Brad Mills said he's likely to still limit Castro's workload if/when he comes back from his injury.
"He did have a good day," Mills said. "From all indications, he's fine. I'm going to try and make sure he doesn't have a heavy dose (of playing time) to start out with. It seemed like when we went into the season, we didn't catch him two days in a row. When we did, that's when (his knee) got sore. We're going to have to monitor that as we move forward, looking at the schedule and how everything matches up more than anything else."
Jose Altuve's day off Sunday was more because he'd played so many days consecutively and less about Mills cutting into his playing time. The addition of Tyler Greene will likely help give him days off down the stretch, but don't expect to see a situation like last year, when Altuve regularly sat after being called up from Corpus.
"He's played for quite a few games straight," Mills said. "He's held up really well (this season). If there's any time he's struggled, it was going into the All-Star Break. I think a lot of that was the anxiety of rumors and people talking about him being an All-Star. That weighted on him a little. Then, coming out of the break, he didn't get one, because he was busy in Kansas City. So, we tried to give him a break there. Then, he had that long stretch when we gave him a day off and I think this is his second day off of the second half."
Wilton Lopez was unavailable for Sunday's game after throwing 40 pitches Saturday night. He blew the save opportunity in the ninth but ended up winning his fifth game of the season. Lopez also won Friday's game, pitching a scoreless ninth with Houston down 3-2. Brian Bogusevic's single in the ninth gave Houston its first walkoff victory of the season. Lopez has tied a career high with five victories. He went 5-2 in 2010 and is 12-11 in his four-year career.
Mills said that Lopez had asked to go back out for another inning Saturday if the Astros didn't score, but it didn't sound like Mills was going to let him. Luckily, it wasn't an issue.
2) Tyler Green and MMP - As clack has noted again and again, Tyler Greene just seems to mash at Minute Maid Park. After Sunday's game, he said this about that success.
"It's just a good park to hit in," Greene said. "You have chances to do stuff with the ball on both sides of the field. For me, it's one of those stadiums where it feels like the pitcher is back away from you and far from home plate. There's some places you go where the pitcher feels like he's on top of you. It's one of those places that I've had some success and I've enjoyed coming here to hit. I like the environment."
Greene had a couple of doubles in the last two games, lacing one into the corner in left and picking up one on Sunday on an unusually hustle-y play. He hit a single that fell in front of Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, and hustled it into a double.
That's what I think he meant by "you have chances to do stuff" in this park. For a hitter like him, he can send one down the line in left and end up on second. He can also hit it to center and still get a double, depending on how deep the center fielder is playing. With that giant CF, there's always a chance that happens.
Plus, a guy who's got pop but not a lot of it could probably pull some home runs into the Crawford Boxes. For a guy who's hit half his career home runs on balls that he's pulled, it's safe to say he'll take advantage of that from time to time.
3) Radio internship gearing up - Monday will be the next stage in Houston's "You Make The Call" radio apprentice contest. The top 300 individuals from 17 different states will descend upon Minute Maid Park to vie for the final 10 spots. The auditions will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., as those 300 people are split into two groups.
A panel of judges will watch all the auditions, much like American Idol, I'm guessing, and then cull the list down. After that, the 10 chosen ones will interview players around the batting cage and those videos will be posted online so you can judge them too.
The panel of judges for tomorrow's event will include Larry Dierker, Patti Smith, Linda Lorelle, Ken Hoffman, Eddie Martiny (Clear Channel president) and both Kathleen Clark and Jamie Hildreth, two pretty high ranking Houston Astros personalities.
Any of our readers get selected? Let us know and we'll definitely be cheering you on throughout the process. If not, we'll have to figure out who's the official TCB candidate later on.