Even in a season full of tough days for the Astros yesterday stood out, as they lost for the 104th time to clinch MLB’s worst record along with the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and also set the all-time attendance low at Minute Maid Park.
The announced crowd was 12,584 and overall this season the Astros rank last among NL teams in attendance while drawing 5,678 fewer fans per game than in 2011, when they also had MLB’s worst record. That represents a drop of nearly 450,000 total fans.
Oddly enough the Astros have actually been pretty decent in front of their diminished home crowds, at least compared to how they’ve played on the road. At home this season Houston is 34-45, compared to 16-59 on the road.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.