It’s All Hallows’ Eve –the scariest night of the year — and time to take a look back at the Astros scariest moment of 2013. With 111 losses, the whole year was actually pretty scary. But there was one moment that, to me, stood out from the rest.
On August 21st, the Astros were in Arlington playing their newly created division rival. Rookie catcher Max Stassi had been called up the night before to replace the injured Carlos Corporan on the Astros roster.
Stassi stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Tanner Scheppers had been brought into the game at the start of the inning, tasked with protecting a 4-2 lead. But, on this particular evening, Scheppers was uncustomarily wild. The Rangers setup man had already issued a walk, uncorked two wild pitches, and plunked Chris Carter with a pitch.
The first pitch from Scheppers to Stassi, a fastball, sailed up and in. Max had virtually no chance to get out of the way. The ball glanced off Stassi’s shoulder before striking him squarely in the face. Stassi backed away from the plate and slumped over — his mouth badly bloodied. Although he never lost consciousness, Max was unable to continue and was forced from the game. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.
In what had to be one of the most painful first career RBIs in history, Stassi and the Astros tied the game at four. Unfortunately, the Rangers would go on to win with a walkoff sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Stassi would battle a myriad of lingering concussion symptoms for the next month, including fatigue and dizziness. The 22-year old would eventually work his way back, appearing in one more game for the Astros in late September.
The injury short-circuited an outstanding season for Stassi — quite possibly the best of his career. In his first season at the AA level, Max established career highs in homeruns (17), RBIs (60), slugging pct. (529) and OPS (.863) — and he did it in only 76 games. In what seems to be a recurring theme for Astros catchers, Stassi is having a hard time shaking the injury-prone label. Hopefully Max is fully recovered and can team up with Jason Castro to give the Astros a productive pair of backstops in 2014.