The Runner Sports

What The Astros Do When You’re Not Looking, Summer ’17

The Houston Astros seem to be marching to an inevitable American League Western Division title, but longtime Astros fans might be wondering if a complete collapse awaits the team as August turns into September.

Cautious optimism, then, is the byword, based on some previous seasons, leaving some fans wondering if an eventual freefall might actually be the inevitable event.

But, while navigating through the Sturm und Drang that is the regular season that includes not only trying to win games, but defending what moves were and weren’t made at the trade deadline, it’s easy to miss the fun and little things that go on in AstroWorld. And, I don’t mean the long-closed Six Flags amusement park across 610 from the Astrodome. Hopefully, significant of nothing, AstroWorld actually closed its gates just four days after the Astros’ last World Series appearance (and demolished, like the team’s pennant hopes, mere weeks later), when the White Sox white-washed our heroes in a four-game sweep in late October 2005.

Bregman’s Digable Digits

Sharp-eyed fans will have noticed IF Alex Bregman‘s holding up three fingers in the direction of the Astro dugout after he arrives at the base to which he just hit safely. Since this happens even on the road, we can rule out his order on dollar hot dog night. He’s actually signaling to the guys his desire and impending approach to batting .300, a goal he’s set for himself with, of course, the complete support and encouragement of his teammates. After games of August 16, he was batting .275.

Buy the Numbers

In other number news, August 17, 2008, was the day the Astros retired Craig Biggio‘s #7, which is the number of years that passed until Bidge was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In relief, RHP Francis Martes, in 20.2 IP, has allowed 0 inherited runners to score this season, stranding all seven through August 16.

The Astros, proving their prodigious offense, have 11 players with 30+ runs scored and 30+ RBIs, the most in MLB.

To complete the recent trade of RHP Tyler Clippard, the Astros have sent $1 million to the Chicago White Sox, essentially paying off what’s left of his contract for 2017….approximately $1.14 million at the time of the trade.

Player Plaudits

Before Wednesday’s game, by the way, Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel picked up their AL Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month Awards, respectively, for July. Yep, despite being 34, El Yuli is indeed an MLB rookie (even after 15 seasons as a star in Cuba), having missed by one at-bat, last year, of exhausting his rookie status.

Also at Wednesday’s game was one Max Gattis, the almost dad-sized kid of Houston C/DH Evan. Max even sports a full, reddish beard like his Pop. Gattis, the elder, is still on the DL due to a concussion, but expects a return before September.

In another injury update, manager A.J. Hinch says the team hasn’t ruled out IF Colin Moran‘s return in September. Moran is at the Astros’ West Palm Beach complex in Florida, still recovering from facial surgery after a foul ball bounced off his cheek.

And, speaking of awards, before the August 6 game against Toronto, Josh Reddick received a plaque representing his being named the Astros’ Heart and Hustle Award winner by the MLB Players Alumni Association. The annual award goes to one active player on each team who best embodies the values, spirit, passion, and traditions of the game. The overall winner will be announced in November. Congrats, Josh, and of course, WOOOO!

One more: Class A (full season) Quad Cities River Bandits catcher Abraham Toro-Hernandez was named the Astros’ Minor League Player for July! He hit .315 with 7 HR and 16 RBIs while posting a 1.038 OPS. The switch-hitting Canadian backstop was a 2016 fifth-round draft pick for Houston.

“Their”-apy: A Yen For Zen

Apparently figuring you can’t hit what you can’t see, some of the Astros’ position players have taken to perching themselves, each with bat in hand, on the top step of the dugout long before a game’s first pitch, and doing nothing but staring out onto the field. They’re visualizing getting a hit. It started with Altuve and OF Jake Marisnick, and has since ballooned, at any given time, to some half-a-dozen, adding Bregman, Brian McCann, George Springer, and Marwin Gonzalez. “We don’t have to talk, just visualize,” explains Altuve.

Web Gem? Not So Much

In the top of the 5th inning in Wednesday’s eventual 9-5 victory over Arizona, the D-Backs’ Chris Iannetta walked, when Ketel Marte hit a sharp grounder right to second baseman, Altuve. A dead duck force at 2nd, Iannetta just stopped a couple dozen feet from 2nd base. Altuve calmly backpedaled to 2nd base, and turned to find SS Marwin Gonzalez standing on the base, a couple feet away. Altuve gently placed the ball into Marwin’s bare hand, as the umpire signaled “out.” A simple 4-6 force out in your score book. A bit of a diamond chuckle for the attentive.

Related: What the Astros Do When You’re Not Looking, Pre-Spring ’17 Editionand WTADWYNL, All-Star, July, ’16 Edition, and WTADWYNL, Spring, ’16 Edition, and WTADWYNL, Fall ’15 Edition

NEW: Your Astros’ Players Weekend Primer, Including Big Fudge, Dragon, & Moose, and the Stories Behind the Nicknames

Brad Kyle

Brad Kyle

Brad Ramone with (L-R) Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey Ramone, backstage at Houston's Liberty Hall, July, 1977.

Johnny, the Ramones' influential guitarist, who passed away in 2004 at 55, was an avid baseball and New York Yankees fan since childhood. He even once ranked baseball above rock'n'roll in a personal Top 10 List!

Like Johnny, my love for rock is only equaled by my love for baseball and my hometown Houston Astros, present and past!

At TRS, you'll get full Astros coverage, minor league peeks, player profiles, interviews, MLB historical perspective, and maybe a little rock'n'roll!
Brad Kyle