Lefthander J.A. Happ is three weeks older and three minor league starts wiser than when he last took the mound for the Astros.
Happ will take the mound againstface the San Francisco Giants tonight at AT&T Park. His most recent outing for the Astros was a four-inning, six-run beating by the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 5. That left Happ at 4-14 with a 6.26 ERA, prompting the Astros to option him to Class AAA Oklahoma City.
Happ has averaged 4.75 walks per nine innings. Constantly working behind in the count, he pitched defensively and often seemed to expect the worst.
"Obviously, I didn't want to go down," Happ said. "I'd rather I didn't, but the fact was that's what was going on and that's what I was told to do. People say, 'If you have a rough start, take that night to be upset, and then you've got to forget about it.' I took that day to be upset and then did the best I could to focus. I tried to change my attitude. Maybe being away allowed me to do that.
"They wanted me to go down and work on things. That's kind of what I did. Sometimes the problems were physical and mental, so I tried to work on both."
Happ, 28, went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts at Oklahoma City, allowing 11 hits and nine walks with 16 strikeouts in 18 innings. In his most recent start on Sunday against Iowa, Happ allowed one hit and three walks in seven scoreless innings.
"I tried to go down there and clear my head as much as possible," Happ said. "I tried to stay committed to being positive. I think that's going to help. I think that (negativity) hurt me a lot this year. We'll see. That, and getting ahead in the count."
Astros manager Brad Mills said hehad a good talk with Happ on Thursday.
"He felt that he was able to throw strikes earlier in the count down there, and he's looking forward to doing that here," Mills said. "Getting ahead, he feels like he'll be able to use all of his pitches."
Abreu brings live arm
Juan Abreu was at a mall in Oklahoma City shopping for shirts when he got the call he was going to the major leagues.
From his agent.
The Astros hadn't been able to reach him at that point because one of his phones was broken. Abreu took a taxi to the ballpark and got the official word from Oklahoma City Redhawks manager Tony DeFrancesco.
"I'm very excited," Abreu said.
Abreu, 26, was one of four players the Astros acquired in the July 31 trade that sent center fielder Michael Bourn to the Atlanta Braves. In 57 2/3 innings combined at Class AAA Gwinnett and Oklahoma City, Abreu has 34 walks and 77 strikeouts to go with a 2.18 ERA. The 6-0, 180-pound Abreu has 204 walks and 405 strikeouts in 338 innings in the minors.
Abreu brings big arm to Astros bullpen
Houston Chronicle | Aug 26