We still have an entire season of baseball ahead of us, but let’s just say the Astros haven’t ruled out the possibility.
Lance Berkman was in attendance last night at the annual Houston baseball dinner, which celebrated the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Berkman, who was honored at the event, actually had a good line about the recent mini-controversy over a potential name change for the franchise (via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com).
“I want to thank the Houston Lone Stars for this award,” Berkman said. “What? They didn’t approve that? It’s still the Astros?”
New Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow later took the stage and jokingly alluded to the possibility of pursuing “The Big Puma” before the team makes the move to the American League West next season.
“Let him finish out his contract with St. Louis. And when we get over to the American League [in 2013], we’re going to need a DH,” Luhnow joked.
Berkman, who attended Rice University in Houston, was a first-round pick of the Astros in 1997 and spent nearly his first 12 big-league seasons with the team before being traded to the Yankees in July of 2010.
Nothing wrong with a little joking in a casual setting, but Berkman’s return would probably cheer up some fans who are unhappy with being forced to switch leagues. For now, it’s just a fun possibility to ponder.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”
Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.
Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.
Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.
Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.
So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.