7/1/2013 8:53 P.M. ET
Astros honor fallen firefighters in Arizona
By Chris Abshire / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- With all of Major League Baseball honoring Sunday's tragic deaths of 19 Arizona firefighters before Monday's games, the moment of silence in Houston hit close to home.
During last month's Baltimore series, the Astros honored four Houston firefighters who died on May 31, and manager Bo Porter said the whole community feels Arizona's grief.
"The same thing hit us a short while ago in Houston, and it's terrible to see it happen in Arizona, too," he said. "It's one of those things with firefighters, policemen, military where it's sad that sometimes it takes a tragedy for people to realize the role and impact they play for us to live our lives freely every single day."
All seven Major League home clubs held moments of silence for the men, all but one of whom was a member of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group trained to combat severe wildfires.
The blaze occurred about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix near the town of Yarnell.
Two Astros players, Jake Elmore and Brett Wallace, attended college at Arizona State and were distressed by the news.
"My girlfriend [Kristen Keogh] is a reporter for Fox Sports in Phoenix, and she was here yesterday and distraught about it," Elmore said. "It's pretty sad stuff. I never had any experience with wildfires myself, but it's something you get used to hearing about, living in Phoenix. I've never seen a situation like this. It's tough to swallow."
The moment of silence lasted approximately 20 seconds, with a solemn Minute Maid Park crowd clearly aware of the recent Houston connection.
Astros catcher Jason Casto grew up in a family of firefighters, with his dad and grandfather retired but his brother still in active duty. Castro, who grew up in Castro Valley, Calif., near San Francisco, said he still remembers his family's experience with wildfires.
"It always seemed like every few years, there were big wildfires near L.A. or Southern California somewhere," he said. "Firefighters from our town would go down to help out all the time. I was always asking my dad about them and he told me why wildfires could be so much more dangerous than a structural fire. You don't forget about that.
"It's really sad to hear about the loss of so many heroes. They're doing everything they can to protect the rest of the population and sacrificing. Whenever you hear about the loss of even one, it's devastating, but 19 is tragic."
Dominguez moving up to six-hole in Astros lineup
HOUSTON -- Just when Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez had settled in at the No. 8 spot in the order, he got a promotion.
Dominguez was slotted in the six-hole Monday for the second straight game, and manager Bo Porter said the spot could become a more permanent one for the run-producing right-handed hitter.
"The mindset [of moving him up] is that he's done a great job of hitting with men in scoring position and the fact that he leads the team in RBIs," Porter said. "It made sense to make the move now."
Dominguez has been the Astros penultimate bat in the lineup for 57 games, including 21 of Houston's 27 games in June. He's also hit seventh 18 times, but the consecutive days at the six spot are his first starts there since April 8.
The third baseman had just two hits in his past 29 at-bats, but he ripped several balls to deep in the outfield against the Angels over the weekend. Mike Trout stripped him of a potential go-ahead extra-base hit in the seventh inning of Friday's loss with a diving catch and Josh Hamilton crashed into the wall to rob Dominguez of a solo homer on Saturday.
"The last three or four games, has anyone hit the ball hard more than that guy?" Porter said. "He's done it consistently.
"That's why I continue to say this, batting average is the most overrated stat in baseball. I look at the quality of the at-bats, how hard you hit the ball and if you're hitting to where it's pitched. He's done that all year and been one of our better guys."
Entering Monday, Dominguez has hit .297 with runners in scoring position -- nearly 60 points higher than his overall average -- to account for 33 of his 44 RBIs.
Other than having a better chance to see more at-bats, Dominguez said not much will change for him at the dish.
"I'm just going to approach it the same, because I was hitting the ball hard," he said. "Once you hit the ball on the seams, stuff tends to start rolling for you. I'll still be trying to get a good pitch and drive it. Hopefully that'll be where guys can't catch it."
Harrell sore one day after taking liner off shin
HOUSTON -- The Angels couldn't make much of an offensive dent against Lucas Harrell on Sunday, but they sure left one on his leg.
Harrell took a line drive off his left shin in the sixth inning, leaving a bone bruise that the right-hander was still feeling on Monday.
"It was just pretty tender when I woke up," Harrell said. "Not getting much treatment really, but I had the trainers look at it. Right now, we're just taping it up."
The righty said he doesn't expect to miss his next start, which would likely be against the Rangers on Friday. Astros manager Bo Porter echoed that sentiment before Monday's game against Tampa Bay.
"He came out and did all of his work today and obviously it'll be sore because he got squared up pretty good," Porter said. "I doubt it's anything to worry about, but he'll be monitored."
After getting drilled in the leg, Harrell completed two more innings of work. He lasted seven innings, allowing only one run and six hits but didn't factor in the decision of a 3-1 loss.
The start was the 10th this season in which he's allowed one run or fewer, tying Seattle's Felix Hernandez for the most in the American League.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.