As strange as it sounds, the Astros hadn’t lost in over a week entering Saturday’s game against the Orioles. They hadn’t lost since May 23 in Seattle, to be exact. The ‘stros salvaged the final two games of their four-game set with the Mariners for a series split, then swept the Royals in Kansas City, and took the first two games of a four-game set at home against the Orioles. Even better, they had Dallas Keuchel — surprisingly one of baseball’s better starters through the season’s first two months — taking the hill in search of eight consecutive wins on Saturday.
It was not to be. While Keuchel pitched well, allowing three runs over six innings, Orioles starter Chris Tillman was even better, limiting the Astros to one run over 6 2/3 innings. The O’s bullpen nailed down the 4-1 win and at long last, the Astros lost a baseball game.
Over their seven-game winning streak, the Astros outscored the opposition 39-12 and picked up three games in the AL West. The 24-33 Astros are presently in a virtual tie with the 23-32 Rays for the worst record in the American League.
Rookie outfielder George Springer had a lot to do with the Astros’ success, .299/.413/.753 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI dating back to May 8. Not to be forgotten, second baseman Jose Altuve was slashing .369/.405/.500 with 11 stolen bases in the month of May prior to going 0-for-4 on Saturday.
Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.
Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.
Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.
Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.
First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.
Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.
Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.
It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.
Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.
Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.
He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.
Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.
Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year. Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.
In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.