Houston Astros

Miguel Tejada gets two years older in one day

Miguel Tejada came clean on Wednesday and admitted to pulling a Danny Almonte. Turns out that Tejada lied to Oakland when he first entered the league, but after arriving in Houston where they wanted all his information, he decided that he didn’t “want to lie to them.” Oh, and ESPN totally busted him.

“I’m a poor kid that wanted to be a professional big leaguer,” he said as he discussed his reasoning for claiming he was 17 instead of 19 when signing with the Oakland Athletics in 1993. “I was thinking that was the only way that I could help my family. By the time we did it, it wasn’t because we wanted to do anything wrong to be a professional.

“The scout just did it because at that time I was two years older than I (told them). And to play in the Dominican Summer League you’ve got to be like 17. That’s why he changed the year. Because the only change is the year.”

Tejada and the Astros revealed the news after ESPN surprised him at Citizens Bank Park with a copy of his birth certificate, which the network obtained in the Dominican.

Ah, the Worldwide Leader in Backdooring People Into Admitting Their True Age.


[]: Tejada turns 33 in a flash

Houston Astros

Having a strained groin is no longer the most embarrassing injury in sports

“If you’re sliding into first and you
feel something burst…”

We’ve heard of some strange injuries in our time, but Kaz Matsui might have just stolen the cake. The Astros second baseman is out of action with…wait for it…wait for it…an anal fissure! We don’t know what the hell that is exactly or how you get them (and we don’t want to know), but according to the guys at it is “an unnatural tear or crack in the anus skin.” Yep, that’ll keep you from running.

Astros second baseman Kaz Matsui is expected to miss four or five days after being diagnosed with a condition known as anal fissure.

Matsui, who returned to central Florida on Monday night, will go through individual workouts at the team facility but will not play until at least Friday. Doctors have prescribed a different medication to help alleviate the problem.

Suddenly, falling off you truck, violently sunburning yourself, throwing out your back via a sneeze and getting caught up in a tarp don’t seem all that bad.


[]: Matsui absence likely to last four to five days

Detroit Tigers

The Full Count: The Tigers looked grrr-eat!

1. Statement Win: The Tigers’ win on Monday gave them a series win over the Yankees as well as some confidence. They crushed New York 16-0, scoring runs in each of the first five innings. The Tigers had seven players with multi-hit games and 20 hits overall in the rout. Brandon Inge had four RBIs, while Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco each had two runs and two RBIs. The Tigers’ pitching was excellent too, as Justin Verlander shut down the majors’ highest-scoring team. Verlander went seven innings, giving up three hits and no runs, in what was his best start since June. Despite the win the Tigers are still 2.5 games back of the Indians, who beat the Twins 8-3. However, that could change quickly, as the Tigers have some momentum going into nine straight games against losing teams. The Yankees, who are now 8 games behind Boston, start a three-game set with the Red Sox on Tuesday.

2. Closing the Gap: Jake Peavy helped the Padres narrow the gap with the Diamondbacks as the teams began a four-game set. The Padres drew within two games of Arizona after their 3-1 victory. Peavy threw 7 innings, allowing three hits and one run and striking out 11. He picked up his 15th win of the season, tying Tim Hudson for the NL lead. Peavy also neared 200 strikeouts on the season (197) and lowered his ERA to 2.18. The Padres have an enormously important stretch of games over the next two weeks. They will face the Diamondbacks six more times, in addition to six games with the Dodgers and three with the Rockies.

3. You’re fired: Two years removed from back-to-back NLCS appearances, Astros manager Phil Garner and GM Tim Purpura were fired on Monday. Garner, who posted a 277-252 record in four years with Houston, will be replaced by Cecil Cooper as skipper. The 58-73 Astros are in last place despite playing in the league’s worst division. The team made the World Series in 2005, then sputtered to an 82-80 record last season. Cooper, a former five-time All Star with the Brewers, has managerial experience in AAA but not in the majors. The decision to fire Garner is certainly questionable (is he really responsible for the team not being able to hit?). However, when you’re in last place, any kind of change is good.

Player of the Day: John Lackey, Angels: 9 innings, no runs, five strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Seattle. Lackey has posted back-to-back shutouts his last two starts against the Mariners.

MLB General

The Full Count: Barry inching closer

The crawl to Aaron continues: Barry Bonds hit no. 751 on Tuesday against the Reds, a first inning blast off Aaron Harang into the right-centerfield seats. The Giants lost the game 7-3, and Bonds made sure to backhand his teammates by saying, “I’m playing pretty good for an old guy. I just wish we were playing better as a team.” That’s our Barry, always making nice. What made this game interesting was that it was the first time in over 30 years in which two players with that many homeruns played in the same game. Bonds (751) and Ken Griffey Jr’s (585) 1,336 homers are the third-most all-time between two players in the same game.

The players might have liked you, but I think you suck. We believe those were the words Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle used when taking the closer’s job away from Brian Fuentes. Fuentes had already sewn up his third straight selection to the NL All-Star team before blowing four consecutive save opportunities, the first time anyone has done that in almost 20 years. Fuentes was one of the best closers in the league before melting in games against the Blue Jays, Cubs and Astros, with his ERA jumping from 1.89 to 4.17. He probably won’t lose the job permanantely, but Hurdle now plans on using the dreaded “bullpen by committee” approach.

Rookie what we have here Although his name may sound more like a NASCAR driver than a baseball player, Houston rookie Hunter Pence has been tearing it up for the Astros. Pence has been doing it all for Houston, including hitting a walk-off homerun for a 5-4 victory over the Phillies last night. It was the third time during their homestand that an Astro has sent ’em home happy with a game-winning homer. Since being called up on April 28th, the Fort Worth, TX product has hit 10 homeruns with 39 RBI while leading the Astros with a .345 batting average. He’s even outslugging Carlos Lee .590 to .517. He’s also playing a remarkable centerfield, as evidenced by his ridiculous catch off a Ryan Howard shot in the eigth inning. Pence climbed that stupid Tal’s Hill and caught the ball right next to the waiting-to-kill-somebody flagpole, 436 feet from home.

Player of the day: Brad Wilkerson, Rangers. 3-4, 3 HR, 6 RBI in an 8-3 win over the Angels.

Honorable Mention Player(s) of the day: The Kansas City Royals entire starting lineup. The Royals are a team that has never gotten a lot of respect offensively, but when they beat a team, they beat them like they stole something. For the third time in a month, the Royals put a 17 spot on the board –all in home games– by pounding the Mariners 17-3. 21-year-old Billy Butler led the way, driving in six runs by the second inning. The Royals beat the Phillies 17-5 on June 10th and the Cardinals 17-8 on June 14th. They also lost a 17-3 game to Oakland at home on May 10th.

MLB General

The Full Count: A night of nice round numbers

1. Milestone Number 1: After the 2004 and 2005 seasons, in which he only played 108 combined games, it seemed like Frank Thomas would never stay healthy enough to reach 500 homers. But after a 39 homer season last year, and 13 more blasts this season, Thomas has joined the legendary 500 homer club. He is its 21st member, though he will be joined soon by Alex Rodriguez, who needs eight more. Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield are not far off as well. Many people think the 500 homer mark is diminished because of the large amount of members joining in recent years and steroid suspicions of these players. However, Thomas is one of those players that has always seemed clean, and the large majority of his homers were hit before the steroid era. This achievement just puts Thomas over the edge when it comes to making the Hall of Fame. Now, he’s likely a first-ballot type candidate. Oh by the way, Thomas’ Blue Jays lost to the Twins, 8-5.

2. Milestone Number 2: Amazingly, only hours after Thomas’ 500th homer, Craig Biggio reached the 3000-hit mark. He is the 27th player to reach that mark, though it is arguably more special than 500 homeruns the longevity and consistency it takes to reach. Biggio’s hit was his third of five hits on Wednesday in Houston’s extra-inning win over Colorado. It’s unfortunate that Biggio’s biggest career achievement comes in what is likely his worst season. Even after going 5-6, he still is hitting just .250 on the year with an awful .293 on-base percentage. This is Biggio’s 20th season, and it will probably become his 19th straight with more than 100 hits. He has also had all 3,002 of his hits with the Astros, making him the ninth player in history with 3,000 hits with one team. Whether he makes the Hall of Fame or not, Biggio’s career has been quite distinguished, especially for a second baseman.

3. Rogers Rules: A loaded team like Detroit doesn’t need any extra help, but that’s exactly what they’ve received thanks to the return of Kenny Rogers. After six shutout innings against the Braves in his season debut, Rogers improved to 2-0 with one run allowed in six more innings against the Rangers. The run allowed did bring an end to his under-publicized scoreless innings streak, however. Last year Rogers didn’t allow a run in 23 postseason innings, and he started this year with 11 straight shutout innings. With a 5-2 victory, the Tigers managed to avoid a sweep at the hands of the last-place Rangers. Gary Sheffield hit his 18th homer of the year as well for Detroit.

Player of the Day: Chase Utley, Phillies: 3-5, 2 HRs (15), 4 RBIs in an 8-7 win over the Reds.

MLB General

The Full Count: Diamondbacks are hot again

1. The League’s Hottest Team: The Arizona Diamondbacks have had an up-and-down season, alternating between winning and losing streaks. Right now, they’re on an MLB-high 7 game winning streak after sweeping the Astros and Phillies. Randy Johnson was dazzling on Wednesday as they finished off the Phils. The Big Unit pitched 6 innings, gave up one hit and no runs, and won for his third straight start. In May, Johnson put up a 2.93 ERA and 41 strikeouts. He’s part of an excellent Diamondbacks rotation that includes four pitchers with below a 3.90 ERA. Also, Jose Valverde has proved to be a capable closer, with a league-leading 19 saves in 21 chances. Between the D-Backs, the Dodgers, and the Padres, the NL West has one of the more underrated division races going on right now. Those three teams are separated by just a game.

2. The League’s Coldest Team: The Houston Astros, one of my preseason favorites in the NL Central, have suddenly become the third-worst team in the National League. They have dropped ten straight games, including two in a row at home to the league-worst Reds. Their problems are numerous: Lance Berkman isn’t hitting well, they lack an above-average starter besides Roy Oswalt, and three of their regulars have an OPS below .700. In almost every offensive category, the Astros rank in the bottom five in the MLB. Their only bright spot has been Carlos Lee, who has proved worthy of his contract with a .313 average and 46 RBIs. This team still has potential to be a contender in the weak NL Central, but time is running out.

3. Almost Unbeatable: Oakland’s Dan Haren is not undefeated, but he should be. The breakout ace has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all of his starts this season, good for an AL-leading 1.64 ERA. He also leads the league in WHIP and has won six decisions in a row. On Wednesday Haren dominated the Rangers, going 8 innings with one run allowed. Rich Harden was supposed to be the A’s ace this year, but he’s hurt once again. That spot has been filled admirably by Haren, who has come a long way since his 14-13 record and 4.12 ERA in 2006. The A’s are sitting at .500 now, but if they go on another second-half run, Haren will get the attention he deserves.

Player of the Day: Tie between Erik Bedard, Orioles; Derek Lowe, Dodgers; and Chris Young, Padres: Combined 22 innings, 0 runs, 17 strikeouts; each of them picked up the win.

MLB General

The Full Count: Ice cold brews here!

1. The Slumping Central: Every NL Central team has a losing record in their last ten games, including ice-cold Milwaukee. The Brewers, who have lost 9 of their last 13 games, fell 5-1 to the Dodgers on Wednesday. Brad Penny shut them out in seven innings to improve to 6-1, while Chris Capuano struggled again for the Brewers. Also, the Astros got swept by the Giants in a series that could have been a great chance to catch up to the Brewers. The Cubs, who were nearly above .500 last week, have dropped three straight and remain in third place. As for the other teams…they’ve been in a slump all year, and nothing has changed.

2. Perez beats the Braves–again: If Oliver Perez pitched against the Braves every start, he’d be unstoppable. In three starts against the Braves this season, Perez is 3-0 with only three runs allowed. Amazingly, he has accounted for all of the Mets’ victories against the Braves this season. Perez pitched seven shutout innings on Wednesday as the Mets won 3-0. David Wright homered for the fourth time in four games. The Braves won their third straight series against the Mets this year, but New York retained their division lead.

3. The Yankees Strike Back: Boston crushed the Yankees in their first two series this season, but New York just took two of three from them at Yankee Stadium. They won 8-3 to finish the series, as Andy Pettitte pitched a gem and Curt Schilling was chased after six innings. Schilling allowed 12 hits and 6 runs in what was easily his worst start of the season. Pettitte, meanwhile, went 7 innings for the fourth start in a row and gave up just one run. Surprisingly, he is now fifth in the AL in ERA with 2.66. In a starting rotation that has seen injuries, numerous rookies, and inconsistency, Pettitte is definitely the strongest link. Roger Clemens will join the rotation sometime next week, though his second minor league start was far from ideal.

Player of the Day: Magglio Ordonez, Tigers: 2 HR, 2 RBIs in an 8-7 win over the Angels for the AL MVP candidate. Ordonez has 12 homers, 42 RBIs, and leads the league in slugging and OPS.

MLB General

The Full Count: Jake Peavy makes his Cy Young case

1. King of the Hill: Jake Peavy faced Rich Hill in a promising pitching matchup on Tuesday. But this one wasn’t close, as Hill continued his recent struggles while Peavy kept his major league leading ERA. Hill allowed five runs in six innings, the third start in a row he’s given up four or more runs. He allowed four homeruns to the Padres, all of them solo. Meanwhile, Peavy gave up just one run to improve to 6-1 with a 1.63 ERA. If the season ended right now, he would win the Cy Young in a landslide. On offense, Adrian Gonzalez hit his 11th homer and Mike Cameron hit two out to triple his season total. The Padres are just a half game back of the Dodgers now.

2. Twin Powers: The Twins’ three best players–Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, and Torii Hunter–all dominated in a 7-1 win over the Rangers. Santana had one of his best starts of the season, with 13 strikeouts and one run allowed in seven innings. He only surrendered a homer to Sammy Sosa, who now has 598 on his career. Morneau powered the offense with two homers, five RBIs, and three hits. With 13 homers, he is now second only to A-Rod in the AL in that category. Torii Hunter also continued his recent hot streak, with another homer and two ribbies. In his last nine games, Hunter has 5 homers and 17 RBIs. The Rangers, followed up back-to-back 14-run outings with 18 strikeouts on offense.

3. Youth over experience: For the second time in six days, Tim Lincecum of the Giants took on Roy Oswalt of the Astros. Last time, both pitchers were even and the game was decided in extras. On Tuesday, Lincecum got the better of the two-time All Star. Lincecum pitched a career-high eight innings and gave up two runs, lowering his ERA to 3.08. After a poor debut, Lincecum has made three straight quality starts. Oswalt gave up four runs in the loss but is still 6-3. Also worth noting for the Giants is how Barry Bonds has completely struggled lately. Since his last homer on May 8, he has no RBIs, just 5 hits, and a .191 slugging percentage. His OPS has fallen from 1.311 to 1.121, though that’s still good enough to lead the NL.

Player of the Day: Kyle Davies, Braves: 8 innings, 1 run, and three RBIs in an 8-1 win over the Mets.

Stat of the Day: After only recording three RBIs in the first 32 games this year, Felipe Lopez of the Nationals has 13 RBIs in his last 13 games, including a 6-RBI effort on Tuesday in a win over Cincinnati.

MLB General

The Full Count: Carlos Lee earns his keep

1. Lee’s the Man: Many thought Carlos Lee was one of this offseason’s most overpaid players. Right now the Astros are looking like geniuses for signing him to a $100 million contract. He single-handedly led Houston to victory on Tuesday, going 4-4 with 2 homers and 4 of the Astros’ 6 runs. His second homer was a solo walkoff shot in the 10th inning that gave Houston a 6-5 win. Lee’s fifth straight multi-hit game has raised his average from .287 to .336. He is tied for the National League lead in RBIs with 37. Lee’s teammate in the Astros outfield, super-prospect Hunter Pence, has been great since he was called up two weeks ago. Pence went 3-3 with a homer yesterday and is hitting .310 with 14 RBIs in 15 games. The Astros have been playing well lately and at 19-19, they’re second in the NL Central.

2. The Big Unit is Back: After his best start of the season, Randy Johnson proved he could still dominate on any given night. Johnson only pitched six innings against the Rockies, but he shut them out and allowed just one hit. Johnson got his first victory of the season as the D-Backs won 3-0 in Colorado. The 43-year old also struck out a season-high nine. Jose Valverde closed the game for his 13th save, which is second in the NL.

3. Under the radar dominance: Everyone knows the Red Sox, Braves, and Brewers are all having great seasons, but the Dodgers have been a slightly quieter team. At 24-16, they have one of the best records in the majors, and they have a significant three-game lead in the highly competitive NL West. On Tuesday they beat the Cardinals 9-7, as their hitting continued to stay hot. The Dodgers lack a power bat, but they have the speedy duo of Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre, Jeff Kent is back to his old self, and Russell Martin has been the best-hitting catcher this year. Furcal had three RBIs on Tuesday in his third consecutive four-hit game. His 12-14 streak has raised his average from .228 to .297. Martin had two RBIs and leads all catchers in steals, hits, and runs.

Player of the Day: Carlos Lee, Astros: 4-4, 2 HR (9), 4 runs, 2 RBIs in a win over the Giants.

MLB General

The Full Count: Bad + Bad = extra innings Bad

Hell, even Garner looks bored

1. Longest Game of the Year: There have been quite a few extra-inning contests this year, but none as long as the Astros-Pirates game on Wednesday. The Astros always seem to get involved in the really long games, and this one lasted 16 innings. The winner of this marathon was the Pirates after Adam LaRoche hit a walk-off single. It was his first career hit at PNC Park, and only the 7th hit overall this year for LaRoche, who has been in a slump since the season started and is only hitting .106. The teams combined for 15 different pitchers, 30 different hitters, and 476 pitches thrown.

2. Man on Fire: Bonds hasn’t been this good since 2004. He hit a first-inning, three-run homerun on Wednesday against the Dodgers, giving him 7 on the year and 741 for his career. Barry Bonds has now homered in three of his last four games, and leads the league in homers, slugging, and OPS. He’s 14 short of the career homers record, and he Willie McCovey as the Giants’ all-time RBI leader. The Giants won 6-4 over the Dodgers, with Noah Lowry getting the win and Armando Benitez the save. For Benitez, it is his 6th save of the year with an ERA of 2.45.

3. Dueling Complete Games: You wouldn’t expect a matchup between Jarrod Washburn of the Mariners and Joe Blanton of the A’s to turn into a pitcher’s duel, but it did. Both hurlers threw complete games, but Blanton allowed two solo homeruns while Washburn shutout the A’s. Jose Guillen and Kenji Johjima both went yard, supplying all the offense the Mariners needed. Oakland’s loss combined with the Angels’ win over Tampa results in a tie atop the AL West standings.

Player of the Day: Jake Peavy, Padres: 7 innings, 2 hits, no runs, 16 strikeouts. He struck out nine straight from the second to fourth inning.

Stat of the Day: Joel Zumaya hit a batter and then walked four straight against the White Sox. It is only the second time a reliever has issued a free pass to five straight batters in the last 40 years, according to Elias Sports.