Maxwell hit a two-run homer on Monday
The Houston Astros claimed outfielder Justin Maxwell off waivers from the New York Yankees in search of a right-handed bench bat who could provide some pop. And in Maxwell's first at-bat with the 'Stros, he hit a two-run homer on Monday.
The Astros wanted Justin Maxwell on their bench for the power they thought he could provide. Just one day into his tenure, that's turned into the power they know he can provide.
Maxwell capped a wild week for him with a two-run home run in his first at-bat as an Astro and capped the team's third straight win, 8-3 over the Atlanta Braves. It's exactly what they had in mind in claiming the 28-year-old slugger off waivers from the Yankees.
"He got here at what, 12:30 today," manager Brad Mills said. "He just stepped in and joined the club."
What he found when he arrived was obviously a younger team than the Yankees and one where he could get a real chance to contribute off the bench.
"Where I came from in New York, I was one of the younger guys at 28, but now I'm right at the cusp of the average," Maxwell said.
He'll back up at all three outfield positions being that right-handed outfield bat the Astros lacked since trading Jason Bourgeois to Kansas City. He lacks the speed of Bourgeois but makes up for it with the ability to leave the yard.
To make room on the roster, they optioned Fernando Abad to Class AAA Oklahoma City, ending the eight-man bullpen experiment three games in. While Mills admitted his bench felt short, he recognizes the sacrifice dropping down to one lefty.
"I always like flexibility out of the pitching staff," Mills said. "You get more flexibility in one place and you reduce it (in another)."
Astros Notes & Quotes
LHP Fernando Abad was optioned to Class AAA Oklahoma City after just two outings and a home run allowed in 1 1/3 innings. Home runs have always been the issue for Abad, who has surrendered nine in 40 big league innings. His departure leaves LHP Wesley Wright as the only left-handed option out of the bullpen.
OF Justin Maxwell became the first Astros player to homer in his first at-bat with the team since relief pitcher Gustavo Chacin in 2010. Claimed off waivers Sunday, he was so new that he said the hardest part of the day was learning everybody's name. Apparently, it worked both ways. "Somebody called me 'Jason,' but I'll forgive him."
SS Marwin Gonzalez, who had one hit in three games coming into Monday, went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Gonzalez said he was working out a mechanical flaw in his swing with Carlos Lee pregame and it really paid off.
OF Travis Buck made his manager look brilliant with a two-run double down the left field line in his second at-bat of his first start. The double came after the Braves had made three errors in the inning. "We have to play fundamentally sound baseball as well, but to take advantage of their mistakes was huge," Buck said. "That's the name of this game; you've got to capitalize on their mistakes."
LHP J.A. Happ had two halves to his first outing that could not have been more different. He allowed three runs in his first three innings including a stretch of six hits in nine batters. Yet he didn't allow a hit to any of the final 13 batters he faced, finishing with the Astros fourth straight quality start at six innings and three earned runs.
By the Numbers: 29 – Games it took the Astros to win three straight in 2011. It took all of four games this year for the 3-1 club.
Quote to Note: "We're having fun. We're relaxed in the game and having fun." -- SS Marwin Gonzalez, one of few players who never went through the 56-106 and is 3-1 lifetime as an Astro.