Astros Look To Avoid Sweep Against Rangers Tonight On ESPN Radio

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Houston and Texas face off tonight on ESPN Radio.

Tonight’s matchup between the teams is the finale of a three-game series between the AL West foes. And Houston will be hungry for some redemption coming into tonight’s game, as Texas has already taken two of the series’ three-games so far. Nick Martinez is expected to start for the Rangers in tonight’s game while Scott Kazmir will start for Houston, which currently sits third overall in the American League standings behind Kansas City and the New York Yankees. Kazmir’s last time on the mound was last Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Houston blanked the Angels 3 – 0 in that game. While Kazmir’s teammate Luke Gregerson was credited with the win, it was Kazmir that carried the ‘Stros through most of the game, throwing one hundred eleven pitches over seven point two innings. Over the course of that time, he fired off five Ks, allowed only three hits, and three walks. He allowed no runs, no earned runs, and no home runs. Of those one hundred eleven total pitches, sixty nine were strikes. That is roughly sixty two percent of his total pitches.

Martinez’s last time on the mound was this past Friday as the Rangers faced the Giants. Texas won that game 6 – 3. Martinez was credited with the win in the game. He pitched 6.1 innings, striking out four batters along the way. He allowed a total of seven hits, two runs, two earned runs, and two walks. Though, he prevented the Giants from knocking any balls out of the park, throwing fifty-nine strikes over the course of ninety-nine pitches for a fifty-nine percent strike rate.

Houston currently sits atop the American League West three games ahead of the Angels. However, Texas has been on a tear as of late, going 6 – 4 in its last ten games and has won its last three straight games, two of which came against the Rangers Monday and Tuesday. Houston is 5 – 5 in its last ten games and lost its last two games. Interestingly enough, Texas is 22 – 29 at home so far on the season whereas Houston is 22 – 30 on the road.

Adam Amin will have the call for tonight’s game live from Texas. He will be joined in the booth by Chris Singleton for additional commentary. Coverage is expected to begin at 7pm ET. More information on ESPN’s MLB coverage is available online along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Angels, Astros Face Off In AL Divisional Matchup Tonight On WNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

All eyes will be on the Astros and Angels tonight as the teams face off in an AL West divisional showdown on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball.

Tonight’s matchup is the rubber match in the teams’ three-game series. It marks only the second time this season that ESPN has traveled to Houston for its MLB coverage. Lance McCullers is slated to get the start for the ‘Stros while Garrett Richards is expected to get the start for the visiting Angels. Richards’ last time on the mound was last Thursday against Minnesota. He took the loss in the game, allowing four hits, three runs, three earned runs, and three walks and one home run over eight innings pitched. He struck out five batters En route to the Angels’ loss. Mike Morin replaced Richards in the ninth, allowing only one hit, no runs, no earned runs, no walks, no home runs, and struck out two batters.

McCullers’ last time taking the mound was this past Thursday against the Red Sox. He pitched five innings in the team’s 5 – 4 win over Boston, allowing six hits, two runs, two earned runs, three walks, and one home run along the way. He also struck out two batters before heading to the dugout. While those numbers paint one picture, McCullers didn’t do too badly having faced twenty-four batters in his time on the mound, throwing fifty-two strikes in eighty-nine pitches.

The Angels currently lead the AL West division sitting near even with the second place Astros. Both teams are far better at home than on the road so far on the season with the Angels going 32 – 21 (h) and 23 – 23 (a), and the Astros going 34 – 17 (h) and 22 – 28 (a). The Angels are 6 – 4 in their last ten games versus Houston’s 7 – 3 record in its last ten games.

Dave Flemming will have the call for tonight’s NL showdown. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Rick Sutcliffe. Fellow analyst Doug Glanville will be in the outfield covering both teams’ defense while analysts Eduardo Perez and Eric Wedge will be in the Astros’ and Angels’ dugouts respectively with all of the latest from both teams. Perez is a former Astros coach and Angels 1991 first round pick. Tonight’s game will be simulcast on television and online via ESPN, ESPN3, and WatchESPN. More information on tonight’s game is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New MLB DVD Is A “Perfect” Bonus For Giants, Baseball Fans In 2012

Courtesy: MLB Productions/A&E Home Video/New Video

The San Francisco Giants are headed back to the playoffs again this year.  It’s the third straight year for the Giants, who last won the MLB title in 2010.  The Giants won the MLB title against the Texas Rangers in 2010, which also will be back in the playoffs this year.  The Giants’ return trip to the playoffs isn’t the only accomplishment of which the team has to be proud this year.  Regardless of what happens with the Giants, fans and the team can look back this year and smile knowing the team also earned its first ever perfect game this year.

The Giants’ first ever perfect game came this year on June 13th at the team’s home stadium, AT&T Park.  For once, the number thirteen proved to be good luck, as the Giants would dominate the Astros 10-0 over the course of nine innings.  Both teams would end up going scoreless in the last half of the game.  But thanks to the pitching of Matt Cain and the team’s impressive fielding work, all the Giants would need would be the first five innings.  Melky Cabrera would strike first in the bottom of the first inning with a home run that would bring in both himself and team mate Ryan Theriot.  Theriot had just gotten on base after a ground ball single to left field.  Cabrera’s homer sealed the inning for the Giants.

Things only got better for the Giants in the bottom of the second inning as Brandon Belt would also score a two run homer.  Belt’s homer also brought in Pablo Sandoval after Sandoval led the bottom of the inning with a fly ball single to Right Field.  Joaquin Arias came up to bat next, knocking out a fly ball deep to center field for a double.  Ground outs by Cain and fellow team mate Gregor Blanco would allow Arias to bring in run number three for the Bay area boys.

The Giants would be relentless as they headed into the bottom of the third with two more runs.  One Melky Cabrera would score one of the runs after a line drive single to Center Field by Sandoval off of Astros pitcher J.A. Happ.  Sandoval’s hit also sent catcher Buster Posey to third. Posey had originally hit a double on a deep line drive down the Left Field line.  Posey went on to score after a ground ball single to Right Field by Belt.  Both Belt and Sandoval were left stranded after both Cain and Blanco struck out. 

While Cain struck out, he kept showing his skills on the mound, keeping the Astros at bay for yet another inning in the fourth.  That would allow the Giants to open the team’s already seven run lead again with one more run by Ryan Theriot.  Theriot got on base with a line drive single to Center Field off of the Astros’ J.A. Happ.  Buster Posey’s line drive single to Center Field sent Theriot to third.  That, followed by Angel Pagan taking a walk to first, and a hit by Sandoval allowed Theriot to score and open the Giants’ lead to 8-0. 

The Giants followed up that run with what would be the last two of the game in the fifth off the pitching of the Astros’ Rhiner Cruz.  Matt Cain finally got on base with a ground ball single to Left Field.  Gregor Blanco followed Cain’s hit with a two-run home run to seal the inning.  Those two runs would be the only ones for the Giants.  But they would be enough to seal the game for the Giants.  The Astros’ defensive unit finally came to life in the sixth, holding the Giants scoreless from there on.  But after having scored ten runs in five innings, that defense proved to be too little too late.  The Giants went on to win on both its batting lineup and Cain’s pitching.  The team hit a total of fifteen hits and ten runs.  Now whether one is a Giants fan or a fan of the country’s greatest game in general, fans can re-live this greatest game any time as it’s now available on DVD.  It can be ordered direct via MLB Productions’ website, http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13117893.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MLB Productions, A&E Score Again With Phillies Four Piece Box Set

Courtesy: MLB Productions/A&E Home Video

The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the oldest teams in the history of Major League Baseball.  This team has been in its hometown since 1883.  That’s nearly one hundred and thirty years.  In the time that the Phils have been an organization, this storied club has had a number of important games.  Now thanks to MLB Productions, fans of the Phillies have a new box set complete with four of the team’s greatest games to enjoy, regardless of the team’s post season hopes.  The Essential Games of the Philadelphia Phillies is a four disc box set.  It includes: the Phillies’ 1980 NLCS Game Five matchup against the Houston Astros, Game Six of the NLCS from 1993, Game Five of the 2008 World Series, and Game One of the 2010 NLDS against the Reds.

Phillies fans will appreciate that the set starts off with the team’s Game Five matchup against the Astros from the 1980 NLCS.  Long time fans will recall that this was the game that sent the Phillies into the World Series to face the Kansas City Royals.  The Phillies would go on to defeat them, too and take the team’s first ever MLB title.  Game Five was a pivotal one as it was a hard fought battle on both sides of the ball.  Houston would strike first after Jose Cruz hit a double, allowing Terry Puhl to score.  Puhl had led off the bottom of the first with a single.  He followed that up by stealing second.  A fly ball to Center Field by Joe Morgan allowed Puhl to make his way to third base.  It was Cruz’s single that brought in Puhl.  His run would be the only one of the inning.

The Phillies answered back in the top of the second with two runs scored.  The Phillies’ bats got warmed up when Manny Trillo hit a single to Center Field.  Astros legend Nolan Ryan was on the mound throughout the top of the second inning.  And things didn’t go his way after that hit.  He would go on to walk Garry Maddox, thus moving Trillo to second.  Larry Bowa was up next.  A groundout on his part allowed Trillo and Maddox to move another base.  The pair would end up scoring when catcher Bob Boone hit a single to Center Field off of Ryan. 

Both teams went scoreless in the next three innings.  But things started to pick back up in the bottom of the sixth when Astros pinch hitter Alan Asby hit a single to Center Field, allowing Denny Walling to score.  That run tied the game at two runs a piece and gave the Astros a jolt as they’d go on to score three more runs in the bottom of the seventh, putting the Astros up by two.  The Phillies would battle back in the top of the eighth, bringing in five more runs, putting them back up by two.  But the Astros weren’t about to just lay down for the Phillies.  They answered back with two more runs in the bottom of the inning, tying the game right back up at seven runs each.  Those two runs would be the last for the Astros, though.  The tie brought the teams into the tenth.  This was the last showdown for the two teams.  Del Unser hit a double to Right Field. Trillo would follow that play with a fly ball to center field.  Garry Maddox would seal the game when he hit a double to Center Field, bringing in Unser for the team’s eighth run.  The Astros had nothing for the Phillies at the bottom of the inning, ending the game.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  From here, the Phillies would go on and take its first ever MLB Championship against the Royals.

The Phillies’ road to the team’s first ever championship was closed off in quite the dramatic fashion with the team’s game Five matchup against the Astros.  In 2008, the Phillies would face an equally tough match against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Game Five of this matchup would be the nail in the coffin for the Phillies.  The team had only lost one game to the Rays in the series.  And it had dominated the Rays 10-2 in Game Four.  All the Phils needed was one more win.  And while they got that win, it wasn’t as easy as they had wanted.  While the Phils struck first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning, the Rays kept them scoreless for the next four innings.  It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Phillies would score again.  Even then, the team only brought in one run.  That run came courtesy of Jayson Werth.  Werth hit a single to Second Base, allowing Geoff Jenkins to score.  The Rays weren’t about to have any of that, though.  They answered back in the top of the seventh with a single run homer by Rocco Baldelli.  That homer would tie the game back up at three runs each.  The back and forth didn’t stop there, though.  The Phillies answered right back in the bottom of the seventh.  Pat Burrell hit a double to Center Field.  Eric Bruntlett would end up pinch running for Burell, and would eventually score the winning run after Pedro Feliz hit a ground ball single to Center Field.  Neither team knew it at that time, of course.  But Bruntlett’s score would finish things off as both teams went scoreless in the game’s last two innings, thus bringing the Phillies the team’s second ever championship.

The two games noted here are just a sampling of what baseball fans have to look forward to in The Essential Games of the Philadelphia Phillies.  There are two more games for fans to enjoy any time they want.  And just as with each one f MLB Productions’ previous releases, fans can easily follow the games as each one comes in its own slim case, complete with box score and roster lineups.  This is one more gem of a set for any baseball fan regardless of the Phillies’ fate this season.  And fans can even enjoy it throughout the cold winter months as they count down the days to the opening day of 2013 Spring Training.

The Essential Games of the Philadelphia Phillies is available now.  It can be ordered direct via the MLB Productions website at http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13156453

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Astros’ new anniversary box set is a home run for fans

The Houston Astros celebrate fifty years as a team this year.  In celebration of the team’s anniversary, A&E Home Video and Major League Baseball Productions are set to release a retrospective box set on the team’s history.  “Astros 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” hits stores May 15th, just as Major League Baseball starts to hit its Summer stride.  And for any true Astros fan, this five-disc collector’s edition box set is a must have.  Also, considering that Father’s day is right around the corner from the set’s official release date, it’s a great gift idea for all the dads out there, too.

The “50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” includes five discs.  Four of those discs highlight some of the team’s greatest moments.  The great moments included here are:  Nolan Ryan’s fifth no-hitter on September 26, 1981, Mike Scott’s Division clinching No-Hitter against the Giants from September 25, 1986, the team’s famous 18-inning NLDS clincher against the Braves, and Astros legend Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit in the team’s match against the Rockies on June 28th, 2007.  Each game recieves its own slipcase in the box, which protects each one.  Add in that each Add in the single disc feature, “Astros Memories:  The Greatest Moments in Astros Baseball History” and fans get nearly twelve enjoyable hours of material. 

“Astros Memories:  The Greatest Moments in Astros Baseball History” is an excellent starting point for any Astros fan in viewing this box set.  While the set does include the aforementioned high notes of the team’s history, this single disc feature delves into the team’s history, going all the way back to the days of the Colt .45’s up to the modern era of the Astros.  It discusses the team’s early days playing in searing Texas heat while the famed Astrodome was being built, and the drastic difference (and problems) of playing in the domed stadium and eventually move in to Minute Maid Park.  One of the funniest moments of the team’s days in the Astrodome comes when the comparison is made between the Astros uniform in 1976 to that of the Chicago White Sox.  Some players and fans didn’t like the Astros uniforms.  But one former player makes the comment that compared to the collared shirt and shorts that the White Sox had, he was glad to wear his team’s uniform.

The laughs about uniforms aside, this feature has plenty more for Astros fans to enjoy.  It highlights the influence of Astros greats such as the legendary Nolan Ryan.  The discussion centered on Ryan includes his fifth no-hitter, which again, is included in its entirely on its own disc in this five-disc set.  There are also discussions cenetered on fellow Astros legends Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio (A.K.A. The Killer B’s), and the acquisition of Roger “The Rocket” Clemens and Andy Pettitte.  The discussion on Biggio also includes his famed 3,000th hit.  That game, too, gets its own disc in this set.  It also makes certain to spend ample time on the contributions of Hal Lanier and many others early in the team’s history.  Simply put, it does more than dropping a bunch of names.  It focuses on everything and everyone that made the Astros the team that its fans have come to love today.  And while the team’s season is off to a rough start this year, this set could help to remind fans that even when critics say the team’s season is dead and buried, it can surprise everyone and “blast off” into baseball’s srtatosphere yet again.