LONE STAR STATE HAS BIG DAY SUNDAY
It’s not very often the state of Texas has three historical events that happen on the same day.Sunday was one of those rare occasions when Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell became the second true Astros player inducted in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N. Y., Texas Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre banged out his 3,000th major league hit and former Texas Longhorn golfer Jhonattan Vegas successfully defended his title in the PGA Tour Canadian Open.Bagwell, along with teammate Craig Biggio who was inducted two years ago, both earned major league baseball’s most prestigious honor by striving to win every Astros game and putting out 100 per cent effort during their long careers in Houston.But Sunday was Bagwell’s big day. He gave a 23-minute induction speech thanking everyone he could think of for helping him achieve this high honor, focusing on his father, Robert Bagwell, Biggio and former teammate Moises Alou.Bagwell credits his father for instilling the love of the game when he was a kid, teaching him how to be a man and to never quit.He grew up in Connecticut as a Boston Red Sox fan, idolizing his father’s favorite player, the immortal Ted Williams, and Boston legends Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs.Before his speech, the bronze plaque was unveiled that will be on permanent display in the hall with an etching of his face and an Astros cap with the shooting star logo and a 124-word synopsis of his 15-year career with the Astros.During that time Bagwell had a career batting average of .297, scored 1,517 runs and drove in 1,529 runs. He posted nine seasons with 100 or more runs scored and led the National League in that category three times.He blasted 30 or more home runs nine times and finished with 449 round-trippers overall. Along the way Bagwell became the only full-time first baseman in major league history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. In fact, he did it twice.Bagwell drew more than 100 walks in seven consecutive seasons to set a National League record and played in 100 or more games six times. He also stole 202 bases, the most by a first baseman since 1920.He was a four-time All-Star, was named the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and won the NL MVP in 1994 after batting .368 and played in the post-season six times.Four other baseball greats inducted Sunday included Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Tim Raines, and executive John Schuerholz and former commissioner Bud Selig.The 38-year-old Beltre, who is in his 20th major league season, became the 31st player to collect 3,000 base hits and the first in the Dominican Republic in the major leagues to attain this milestone. After Beltre smacked the double to put him in the record books, his three children came running toward second base, but ran right past their dad and to the centerfield wall where they undraped a huge logo commemorating the 3,000th base hit and then returned to hug their father.“We have a lot of great baseball players in the Dominican Republic, and I’m proud to be one of them,” Beltre told the Associated Press after the game. After the banner was unfurled high above straightaway centerfield congratulating Beltre, his teammates poured out on the field to celebrate with him. Unfortunately, after the game was over the Rangers were on the short end of a 10-6 score against Baltimore. The 32-year-old Vegas, who is a native of Venezuela, had to go an extra hole to successfully defend his Canadian Open title. He shot seven-under 65 to match Charley Hoffman at 21-under par, forcing a sudden-death situation. They played the par-5 No. 18 hole where Vegas chipped to a foot of the flag and sunk the easy birdie. Hoffman chipped from a trap, but the ball scooted past the pin on his birdie attempt. “It’s been a special day,” Vegas told the Associated Press. “I knew that I had to shoot a good round today to have a chance to win again. I just came out with an aggressive mentality, just feeling really good about my game.” KWICKIES…Former Houston Astros slugger Lee May died last weekend at age 74. He played first base for the Astros in 1972-74 and was an All-Star during his first season in Houston. May had 354 career home runs and drove in 1.244 runs during his 18-year playing career. He was known as the “Big Bopper from Birmingham,” hitting 20 or more home runs and 80 or more RBIs in 11 consecutive seasons. He was a three-time All-Star and played in two World Series. His brother is former major leaguer Carlos May and his grandson Jacob May is a rookie outfielder with the Chicago White Sox. Some of the 11th-hour deals made before Monday’s trading deadline was Texas Rangers ace pitcher Yu Darvish to the LA Dodgers along with his two-time All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named. The New York Yankees obtained Minnesota Twins left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia for minor league pitchers Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns and Oakland A’s star pitcher Sonny Gray for three minor leaguers. JUST BETWEEN US…Our weekly Houston Astros update has the team losing two-of-three at Detroit but coming back from the nine-game road trip with a respectable 5-4 record. They still enjoyed a 16-game lead on Monday over second-place Seattle despite their semi-decimated pitching staff. Their top two pitchers are huge question marks as today’s starter against Tampa Bay Dallas Keuchel doesn’t look the same as when he started the season 9-0. However his ERA is still 1.94. His last outing was questionable at best, but not nearly as bad as No. 2 starter Lance McCullers, Jr. who made the All-Star team with a 7-1 (2.53 ERA) and since then has surrendered 23 earned runs in 24 innings with zero wins and a bloated 8.61 ERA. But the major problem appears to be in the bullpen where Will Harris went back on the 10-day DL and the rest of the staff was ineffective at Detroit. Monday afternoon the Astros, in an attempt to bolster their bullpen, obtained veteran lefty Francisco Liriano and cash from the Toronto Blue Jays for 35-year-old outfielder Nori Aoki and minor league outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Liriano also could step into a starting role if needed. Houston began a four-game series against Tampa Bay at Minute Maid Park Monday and will entertain Toronto for a three-game series this weekend.