BALTIMORE -- The Astros' faith in using defensive shifts with regularity was rewarded recently when a third-party entity contracted by the club provided information that showed the Astros led baseball in extra outs collected on defense.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow shared the information with third-base coach Pat Listach, who coaches the infielders, prior to Saturday's game. The Astros knew through their own numbers that the shifts were working, but their numbers were validated.
"They review video of every out and ground ball based on whether or not it would have been fielded if the shift wouldn't have been on versus the shift being on, so they kind of determine whether you pick up an extra out," Luhnow said. "We're leading the league in extra outs picked up so far by a pretty good margin. We knew that from our metrics, but it at least gave us some validation by a third party that has no dog in the fight."
Luhnow wouldn't name the organization that collected the data, but it's no secret the Astros have more defensive shifts this year than any other team in the league.
"I was encouraged and I shared it with Pat because I wanted him to know," Luhnow said. "We knew it from our own data, but it was nice to be validated. There are some of those that have happened in key points of the game, too."
Astros go pink to celebrate Mother's Day
BALTIMORE -- Several Astros players took the opportunity Sunday to don pink gear in honor of Mother's Day. While starting pitcher Jarred Cosart wore pink cleats for his mother, who was in the stands Sunday, players Jesus Guzman, Alex Presley, Marc Krauss, L.J. Hoes and George Springer had specially made pink bats.
The bats are of a special significance to Hoes, whose mother, Gail Hoes, and grandmother, Mary Hoes, are both survivors of cancer and were in attendance Sunday in Baltimore, which is near where L.J. grew up.
"This is the first time I've been home on Mother's Day in a long time," he said. "It's pretty cool. It's going to be a great experience, and I'm happy I'm able to see her on Mother's Day and happy I get to spend a little time with her."
Krauss was swinging a pink bat in honor of his mother, Jenny, with which he belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning of the Astros' 5-2 win over the Orioles.
"She's an amazing mom," he said. "I was so lucky and blessed to have her in my life. She puts up with a lot for me and my two older brothers. She deserves all the credit for raising us, and it's cool to have a day like this where we get to celebrate all the great moms."
Mother's Day is also significant for Krauss' wife, Kelcey, who is celebrating her first Mother's Day after giving birth to the couple's first child, Ava, last offseason.
"It's the first time she gets to celebrate and I get to celebrate her and everything she does," he said. "She does so much for us. We're gone half the time and that's the only bad part of our job. She's doing an amazing job and puts up with a lot and handles a lot. It's a great day to be able to honor her, and I'm proud of her and happy we're able to do this together."
Springer's mother, Laura Marie Springer, was also in attendance Sunday in Baltimore to see her son, who had pink bats with her name on them, as well as pink cleats.
"At the end of the day, whether it's cracked or not, I'll hand that to her and give her the cleats I've got and let her kind of enjoy her day," Springer said. "She means the absolute world to me. She's had a huge impact on my life, and I wouldn't be here today without her. Every day, to me, is Mother's Day, but today is special for her and hopefully we can do something special for her."
Porter shows confidence in Keuchel as pinch-runner
BALTIMORE -- Now that the Astros are in the American League, seeing pitchers run the bases isn't common. But starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel put on his spikes and entered the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Orioles in 10 innings and wound up scoring a run.
Keuchel pinch-ran for Marc Krauss at second base following Krauss' ninth-inning double. Keuchel scored the game-tying run on Jose Altuve's two-run single. He pinch-ran on two occasions last year, but had only scored one career run prior to Saturday, which came in 2012 when the Astros were in the National League and pitchers hit routinely.
"He's faster than Krauss," manager Bo Porter said when asked why Keuchel pinch-ran. "Keuchel is a really good baserunner. Obviously, look at the situation and you just want more speed on the bases. You want more speed on the bases to give yourself the best opportunity."
Keuchel was on second when Jonathan Villar hit a grounder to second base, and the Orioles threw home to try to get Marwin Gonzalez out coming from third. Gonzalez got caught in a rundown to allow the runners to advance, with Keuchel smartly taking third base.
Of course, most Astros fans remember left-handed pitcher Carlos Hernandez, one of the club's top prospects, injuring his shoulder and derailing a promising career in 2001 in Cincinnati, but Porter wasn't worried about injury.
"The guys that we would allow to do it, Keuchel, [Jarred] Cosart, they're ex-position players," he said. "They know how to run the bases. We've watched our guys in Spring Training and we know the guys that can run the bases [and] that can't."