Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday Morning Hot Links

*Some people in Congress introduced a bill to further limit the amount of money minor-leaguers can make, so The Batguy wrote a letter to his congressman.

*I wrote about how the Rangers are doing this.

*The Astros swept the Angels yesterday with a 10-4 win. Hinch wanted to give Altuve the day off, but instead he went 4x5.

*The Angels had a team meeting following the loss.

*Keuchel, on Altuve:
I mean, there's nothing really else to say about him. He's the best player in the league. 

*ESPN: Altuve's MVP-caliber season is one for the ages. David Schoenfield examines Altuve's season - so far - in comparison to other great seasons at 2B. John Kruk says Altuve is one of the most complete players in baseball.

*The Yankees stunned the Rangers with a 6-run 9th inning. Oakland beat San Francisco. The Pirates beat the Mariners. The division looks like this:

*Gun Barrel City: -
*Houston: -9
*Seattle: -11.5
*Oakland: -15.5
*Anaheim: -19

The Red Sox lost but the Blue Jays and Royals both won, so the Astros are a half-game behind both Wild Card spots.

*FanGraphs: 18.3% to win the division, 55.1% to make the playoffs.
*FiveThirtyEight: 15% to win the division, 47% to make the playoffs.

*Feldman could have earned himself another spot start in the near future.

*DJ Gallo: The Astros have turned their season around by doing nothing.

*The Astros worked out 32-year old Yulieski Gurriel in Florida yesterday, according to reports, and afterwards he posted a picture of himself in an Astros hat on Instagram. McTaggart:
Gurgle projects to hit .285 with 15-18 home runs and 85 RBIs. He can play second base and third base, and he has been described as a more fluid Jeff Kent. Gurgle hit .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs, 20 doubles and 51 RBIs in 49 games for the Industriales in 2015. 

Ken Rosenthal says the Astros could play Gurriel at 3B/DH this season and move him to the outfield next year with the possible departures of both Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus.

*John Perrotto writes that Dallas Keuchel is one of the biggest disappointments in baseball.

*The Astros have every intention of moving their High-A affiliate to Fayetteville of the Carolina League.

*Mark Appel had surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow and his season is done.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

HR 5580 "Save America's Pastime Act" - My letter to my Congressman

I understand not all of our readers will agree with this stance, and many more may not even care, but with The Constable's permission, I'm going to post the letter I sent to my representative below. To be honest, much of it is copy/pasted from other sources, but I feel it accurately reflects my stance, and the stance of some of our other writers here at Astros County. Sources include Mike Bates, Bill Baer, and Melissa Lockard
 
For a brief primer on this issue, this post at Hardball Talk is a good starting point.
 


"H.R. 5580, titled “Save America’s Pastime Act,” was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) last Friday, a bill that amends some language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to make it so minor league players aren’t protected under the law. I am strongly opposed to this bill.

Minor leaguers are often paid less than $7,500 per season despite often requiring players to put in more hours than the typical work day. Major League Baseball pulled in more than $9 billion in revenues in 2015, per Maury Brown of Forbes. But it can’t afford to pay minor leaguers a fair wage? The Uniform Player Contract players are required to sign binds them to a team and keeps them from shopping their services elsewhere. Though players are only paid during the season, they are required to perform duties such as training, meetings and the like all year long and their duties and obligations to the club extend on a year-round basis too.

MiLBers are the lifeblood of the game, even the ones who don't make the bigs. They are the future coaches, scouts, advocates for the sport. While a few are fortunate enough to receive signing bonuses large enough to support themselves for a few years, or have a strong network of well-off family to supplement their salaries, the vast majority of these young men have to resort to sleeping on floors and couches, several to an apartment or hotel room, just to scrape by. Nobody expects minor leaguers to make a fortune, but they need to at least make a living wage during the season. They need to be compensated fairly for the time and effort they put in. And by that I mean ALL of the time and effort, including the mandatory workouts and Spring Training (for which ballplayers earn a small per diem).

I ask you to oppose this piece of legislation, and to further help ensure this unique set of workers are given adequate pay for the hours of labor they provide to their employers. It's fundamentally un-American not to pay a person a fair wage, and this bill is the very definition of that."

If you agree, feel free to use this in your own letter to your representative.

UPDATE: Rep. Bustos, after actually thinking about what her bill would do (read: after she realized how unpopular the bill was), withdrew her support of HR 5580.

How are the Rangers doing this?

As much as I hate the Rangers - and trust me, I hate the Rangers - I'm starting to gain a grudging respect about how these dudes seemingly do not lose. On May 1 the Rangers had a 6.0 game lead on the Astros. Since then the Astros have gone 33-20 - third-best record in the AL - and have seen their deficit to the Rangers extend to 10.0 games. How the hell?

1. Beating the piss out of the Astros

You already know that the Rangers are 9-1 against Houston this season. This sucks. For us, I mean, as Astros fans. For them it's freaking great. Since May 1 the Rangers are 6-1 against Houston, so there's your four-game lead extension from May 1 to present day. Of these seven games, the Rangers won four of them by one run and a 5th by two runs. The Rangers have just outplayed the Astros.

Overall the Rangers are hitting .267/.325/.430. Against the Astros this season (again, ten games) they're hitting .285/.326/.469 - highest against any other divisional opponent. They shellacked the Red Sox and Tigers in separate three-game series, so the team OPS is higher against them (.935 and .921, respectively). But they tend to hit better against the Astros.

But it's the Rangers pitching which has shut down the Astros. Overall the Rangers pitching staff has allowed a .257/.324/.412 line, with a team 3.99 ERA/1.33 WHIP. But the Astros have hit .201/.282/.346 off of Rangers pitching, who has a 2.60 ERA/1.09 WHIP against Houston. Seven of their starting pitchers' top 30 Game Scores have come against Houston, including two of their top five Game Scores.

Essentially, the Rangers pitchers have been able to shut down the Astros' offense for their 9-1 record. A ten game lead on the Astros when the Rangers are eight games better in head-to-head matchups pretty much explains it. The Astros have been shutout or held to one run twelve times this season - three times by the Rangers. God I hate that team.

So which Astros are struggling against the Rangers?

It's not Jose Altuve (.289/.386/.526) or Luis Valbuena (.350/.381/.450). It's not Colby Rasmus (.286/.412/.536). Marwin is even hitting a respectable .267/.267/.467 against Midlothian. But they're the only ones off the hook here. Consider:

George Springer: .179/.289/.385
Carlos Correa: .139/.225/.167
Carlos Gomez: .130/.286/.304
Jason Castro: .174/.296/.174
Evan Gattis: .182/.222/.303

That's a significant portion of the lineup who has not produced against a team that the Astros really need to beat in order to continue the hope of playing in October. Those five players have totaled four home runs, nine RBI, 50K:20BB in ten games against the Rangers.

If you haven't pulled enough hair out just yet, consider that (via FanGraphs) the Rangers' team pitching fWAR is 5.5 - 20th in the Majors. The Astros' team pitching fWAR is 11.0 - 5th in the Majors. Even breaking it down to Starters vs. Relievers, the Astros have a better rotation fWAR than the Rangers - 6.4 to 5.1 - and the Bullpen disparity is even greater with the Astros posting the best fWAR in baseball at 4.6 and the Rangers coming in 24th at 0.4 fWAR. In isolation these numbers are misleading - the Astros just haven't been able to get it done against Tarrant County.

2. Playing on the road

The Rangers are 23-15 on the road in 2016, the Astros are 19-22. Starting with the May 20 series at Houston the Rangers are 15-3 on the road with a +35 run differential. That's unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is that they're 6-1 in 1-run games over that span, including a three-game sweep at St. Louis that they won by a grand total of three runs.

Beginning with the road series that started at Anaheim on May 27, the Astros are 12-7 in road games, but starting out the season 7-15 on the road goes back to the whole "April was a deep dark hole" narrative that is looking more and more valid by the day.

3. ...Which piggybacks in to close wins

The Rangers are 17-5 in one-run games and 24-13 in games decided by 1-2 runs. The Rangers' 17 1-run wins are the most in the AL by five full wins. Only the Yankees, at 11-6, are remotely close the Rangers' 1-run record.

The Astros have clawed their way back to 13-13 in one-run games and 23-20 in games decided by 1-2 runs. But the Rangers' head-to-head record against Houston exacerbates the issue in this.

4. The Rangers have the best record in the division because they have beaten the dogmess out of (almost) everyone in the division.

AL West teams vs. AL West teams:
Midlothian: 26-13
Houston: 15-16
Anaheim: 15-19
Seattle: 15-19
Oakland: 14-18

Euless vs. Houston: 9-1
Euless vs. Seattle: 8-4
Euless vs. Anaheim: 6-4
Euless vs. Oakland: 3-4

This makes no sense.

I know that what I'm about to do is questionable, but let's remove the Astros and Rangers' head-to-head matchup from the top of the division standings:

North Duncanville: 17-12
Houston: 14-7

The Rangers are 17-5 against Houston and Seattle combined and 9-8 combined against the two worst teams in the division. So that's how you stretch a lead - beat the crap out of your immediate competition and count on the rest of the league to beat the crap out of the crap teams.

5. It doesn't matter how they're doing this.

Cole Hamels has a 2.60 ERA but a 4.40 FIP. Colby Lewis had a 3.21 ERA but a 4.28 FIP. Martin Perez has a 3.44 ERA but a 4.73 FIP. There's only one Rangers pitcher who has thrown more than 30IP this season who has outperformed his FIP, and that's DL mainstay Derek Holland and the Rangers will probably call up some Sandy Koufax lookin' ass boy to replace him and get even better.

The AL-average BABIP is right at .300. Despite their team BABIP sitting at .302, the Rangers have gotten 1395 plate appearances from hitters currently with a .300 BABIP or higher. Got dang Ian Desmond (332 PAs) and Jurickson Profar (100 PAs) have a .394 and .395 BABIP, respectively. Both would be a franchise record should they manage to keep that up.

The Astros' team BABIP? You're probably thinking it's in the neighborhood of the current heat index in Houston, hovering somewhere around .100. It's actually .302, the exact same BABIP as the Rangers. Furthermore, the Astros have gotten 2265 plate appearances from hitters currently with a .300 BABIP or higher.

Wins are wins. The wins already banked are not a mirage, even if the statistics behind them are. It's not as though the Rangers are going to have any of their already-recorded 51 wins taken away from them in September because their 1-run devil magic runs out in August, or because maybe the Astros start to actually, you know, win a few games against the Rangers. They have a ten-game lead and there's no statistical gymnastics you can do to change that. It's great for their fans. It sucks for us.

Let's leave the Wild Card out of this for the time being. If the Astros are to win the division, here's what needs to happen:

Let's assume that life is as terrible for Houston fans as we all believe it is and the Rangers really are a 106-win team (which is the pace at which they have won over their first 78 games). Let's say this is who the Rangers are and they keep this up and win 106 games. The Astros would need to go 66-18 from this point forward to make up those ten games and take the division. That's a .786 clip and would amount to a 162-game record of 127-35.

Let's assume that the Rangers have used all of their lives or the devil shows up to get his due and the Rangers play .500 from this point forward. There's no reason to think they're a .500 team, but we're playing around here, yeah? So going .500 from this point forward means they end the season with a 93-69 record. If the Astros are to get to 94 wins, they will need to 53-31 over their last 84 games - a .630 clip. Now over their last 30 games the Astros are 21-9 - a .700 clip - but it's a lot harder to win at that pace over 84 games than it is over 30.*

*Hits self in head with hammer.

Since May 1 the Astros are 34-20 - a .630 win rate. If the Astros are to win at a .630 pace for the next 84 games, they would end 2016 with a 94-68 record, an unbelievable thought as of April 30. It may still be unbelievable, anyway.

Here's the problem with that: Let's say the Astros do exactly that and win out at a ridiculous .630 pace, ending the season with a 94-68 record. The Rangers would "only" need to go 44-40, a .524 win percentage that is far below the .654 they've put up so far. Such is the lead the Rangers have built, assisted by the Astros. And assisted, of course, by the devil and Jeff Banister's ritualistic sacrifices and Jon Daniels' binding commitment to the Dark Lord.

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*Jeff Blogwell Zapruder'd that God-awful Minute Maid commercial.

*The Batguy went down an Astros Twitter Tuesday rabbit hole.

*Lima Time Time: Episode 15 is available.

*The Astros beat the Angels 7-1 last night/early this morning. The Rangers obviously beat the Yankees because they are a machine built to run on the sins of humanity. The Mariners beat the Pirates, the A's beat the Giants. The division stays the same (Astros -10) with only the Angels dropping to 19.5 GB.

*In Wild Card news, the Blue Jays and Red Sox won but the Royals lost. So the Astros are tied with the Royals at a half-game out of the Blue Jays' 2nd Wild Card spot, and 1.5 back of the Red Sox for the 1st Wild Card.

*FanGraphs postseason odds: 15.4% to win the division, 52.3% to make the playoffs
FiveThirtyEight's playoff odds: 12% to win the division, 44% to make the playoffs
Astros County's playoff odds: 100% to win the division, 100% to make the playoffs.

*Scott Feldman threw a very efficient 5IP (65 pitches) in his spot start. Feldman:
That was something me and A.J. talked about when he took me out, was at the beginning of the day if you would have told us that we'd go five and we'd have the lead it was probably a pretty good day...Really just can't say enough about the job (Castro) does behind the dish every night. He makes it a lot easier on us pitchers.

*Hinch likes the vibe around the Astros right now:
We've got to go out and produce and do some things and prepare, but we do have a nice little vibe about us, a little swagger. We've got our confidence back and the way we show up and (are) performing right now, it's a fun atmosphere.

*McCullers (blister) is on track to make his next start on Monday.

*A.J. Hinch gave A.J. Reed the night off after seeing how frustrated he was.

*Jose Altuve was 2x4 with his 19th and 20th stolen bases of the season. His 4.1 fWAR is tied for 2nd in all of baseball, behind Mike Trout and tied with Josh Donaldson.  Since May 1 Altuve is hitting .370/.439/.536, 18K:27BB with an 85% SB rate.

*Carlos Correa hit a 3-run homer in the first inning and went 3x4 with a walk and 4RBI. Since the beginning of the Baltimore series (May 24), Correa is hitting .283/.383/.558

*Alex Bregman and Joe Musgrove will represent the Astros in the Futures Game. Bregman, meanwhile, was 2x3 with a 2-run homer in the Texas League All-Star Game last night, and is set to join Fresno later this week.

*From a couple of days ago, FanGraphs projected A.J. Reed.

*2014 17th Round pick Ben Smith has overcome A LOT to be pitching in Tri-City right now.

*2016 17th Round pick Brian Howard will return to TCU for his senior season.

*Ramgers GM Jon Daniels, on their ten-game lead:
We're aware of where we are, but I try not to look at things that way. We're very cognizant of what can happen quickly.

*Jeff Passan on the Angels and irrelevance.

*The Ringer: Tim Lincecum's second act.

*Jeff Zimmerman offers a new way to look at college baseball stats.

*Hey Paul Clemens was claimed off waivers by the Padres.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Breaking Down That Awful Minute Maid Commercial

In today's edition of I Have Way Too Much Free Time On My Hands, I break down every terrible thing that happens in every horrible frame of that awful Minute Maid commercial. I was going to keep this post to myself, but it's made with real FRUIT so I'm SHARING.



:02



Right from the start I have some issues here. What time is it? Where are the parents? Who does this kid think he is opening the refrigerator without permission? That would have gotten me a decent stint in time out at my house. By the way, cool drawings of your family, kid. Too bad they don't care about you enough to know what you're up to.

:04


Three glasses of orange juice?! Are you kidding me? How did you even get those glasses down, you can't be more than three feet tall. If you really loved your dad you would have asked for permission.

:05-07



Hey kid, when the dog thinks it's a bad idea, you should probably stop. When you're done clumsily pouring orange juice in that poor animals bowl, why don't you shove some chocolate down it's throat?

:08-12


A few things here. One, why would you carry both the already full glass AND the entire jug of orange juice? Are you trying to spill this stuff everywhere? Two, what's your plan for giving this hamster your delicious juice? Last I checked, hamsters don't just lap liquid out of people's hands. I'm just impressed you didn't open the cage and let the hamster run away from the giant monster trying to drown it in a sea of crushed citrus. 

:12-14


Really? You're just going to pour juice in a bird feeder? It didn't occur to you that maybe the birds were already ok with that bird seed that now isn't coming out because you made a pulp-free moat at the bottom of this perfectly functional device? And where in the world are you parents? There is a four-year-old just wandering around outside and no one seems to care.

:15


Oh yeah, for sure. Give those fish some orange juice. Fish love swimming around in liquid that isn't water.

:16


FINALLY an adult! We're halfway into this commercial so it's about time Dad wakes up with a Mimosa-induced hangover and rolls out of bed to find out what his psychopath son is up to. No worries, Pops, he's just been trying to murder every animal in and around the house.

:17-20


After his dad rightfully asks his son what he is doing, the little punk responds with the worst line of all-time. "It's made with real fruit, so I'm sharing!"

Let me ask you something, kid, if your friends were made with real fruit would you share them with various woodland creatures? What about with that creepy neighbor who I'm sure saw you lugging that jug of juice around like an idiot outside? You know what else is made of real fruit? That apple the witch tried to give Snow White. Has Disney taught you nothing?

:21-23


I assume this is the moment Dad has realized that he is about 10 years away from seeing his precious little boy locked up in Juvie for strapping fireworks to cat because, "They're made with real EXPLOSIONS so I'm SHARING." Dad tries to calmly suggest that the little tyrant put an end to his household death spree and give whatever is left in that jug to Mom.

Bad move.

:24


"Oh. Ok."

That's what this kid says out loud, but those soulless eyes just scream, "Oh I'll give Mom her juice, alright. I'll give her so much she'll never ask for anything ever again. And then I'll be free to pour my liquids WHEREVER I PLEASE."

:25


Look into this Dad's eyes and try to tell me that he isn't already counting down the hours he has left to live. The commercial ends here, but the torment is just starting for the Mom and Dad who dared question this kid's juicing techniques. 

Legend has it if you get close enough to this house on a dark and stormy night, you can still hear the faint sounds of the parents coming from inside a locked basement... something tells me I'm into something good.


Astros Trivia Rabbit Hole

Every once in a while, the Astros Trivia Tuesday question on twitter will send me down a fun path of statistical oddities. I thought I'd start sharing them.

Today's question was "The won 10-straight starts by Fister, tying a single-season franchise record. Who did it last and what year?"

The correct answer (I'm scheduling this to post after the time limit on the question is over) is Donne Wall in 1996. After a 24 inning cup of coffee in 1995, Wall began his official rookie season in 1996 with a bang. The Astros won his first 10 starts that year, with Wall going 6-0 with a 3.51 ERA over that stretch, though the Astros were only 27-30 at that point in the season. He would go just 3-8 for the rest of the season with a 5.40 ERA, finishing the year 9-8, 4.56 even as Houston scrapped to finish 82-80 that year. He would make just 8 starts for the Astros the next season but, after a series of transactions after the 1997 season, he would find himself in San Diego where he had a few decent seasons out of the bullpen.

Another interesting find while I searched for that answer, though, was much more recent. I'm surprised I either never heard this or had forgotten it, but Keuchel and McHugh also has 10 game streaks of team victories that straddled the 2014-2015 offseason. Keuchel began his streak August 26, 2014 and McHugh decided to join in the fun, beginning his run August 28, 2014. Keuchel's streak ended April 29, 2015 after 10 games, while McHugh ran his to 11 games, ending May 7, 2015. For a 54 game stretch (albeit over two seasons) the Astros were guaranteed a win with one of those two on the mound.

And in case you were wondering, the longest such streak in all of baseball is shared by two pitchers, both still active players. Most recently, Jake Arrieta led the Cubs to 23 straight wins in games he started from July 30, 2015 to May 25, 2016, pitching to an absurd 1.05 ERA during his run. The other is Kris Medlen. Medlen's story is a bit different, as time spend on the disabled list or in the bullpen breaks his streak up quite a bit. Nevertheless, from May 29, 2010 until his final start for Atlanta on September 30, 2012 if Medlen started, Atlanta won.

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*Will Harris pitched out of a bases-loaded no-out jam in the 9th to preserve an Astros 4-2 win at Anaheim last night. Angels manager Mike Scioscia:
Give Harris credit, he pitched out of a jam. Our guys are battling, we're playing hard. We're just not winning enough situations in games to keep them on our terms. We did a lot of good things tonight, and the Astros did a couple of things better.

*Carlos Correa hit a sac fly in the top of the 9th for the go-ahead run. Hinch on Correa:
He loves the big moment, and he's pretty calm under pressure. He knows how to get runs in from third base. Whether it be with a hit, the sac fly there...that's a mature approach and a way to win the game. 

*The Astros have won six straight against Anaheim and are 8-1 against them in 2016. The Astros are Rangering the Angels.

*And speaking of Ranger Devil Magic, they beat the Yankees at 1:45am Central after a 3.5-hour rain delay in front of 100 fans after scoring four runs in the top of the 9th. Joe Girardi was extremely not happy. The A's beat the Angels and the Mariners were off. So your division looks like this:

*Burleson: -
*Houston: -10
*Seattle: -11.5
*Oakland: -16.5
*Anaheim: -18

*The Red Sox and Blue Jays lost and the Royals won, so the Wild Card picture for Houston is as such:

WC1: -1.5
WC2: -1.0

*A blister on Lance McCullers' finger means that Scott Feldman gets the spot start tonight at Anaheim instead.

*How George Springer is leading the Astros' revival.

*Five reasons the Astros have turned their season around.

*Luke Gregerson helped Brady Rodgers with a slider in Spring Training, and now Rodgers is knocking on Houston's door.

*2015 37th Overall pick Daz Cameron hit his 1st professional homer last night in a Tri-City win.

*Watch the benches clear in the New Orleans/Memphis game last night.

*The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. show has begun in Virginia.

*Phillies prospect Matt Imhof has a career-threatening eye injury after getting hit by a malfunctioning  arm band.

*How Iceland got good at soccer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Morning Hot Links

The Royals snapped the Astros' 7-game win streak yesterday afternoon with a 6-1 win to prevent a Houston sweep. The Rangers beat the Red Sox - of course - the Angels beat the A's, and the Cardinals beat the Mariners. So here's the division:

Northwest Waxahachie: -
Houston: -10
Seattle: -11
Oakland: -16.5
Anaheim: -17

WC1: -2.5
WC2: -1.5

*Tonight's series-opener at Anaheim (9pm Central) will be on ESPN.

*Ian Kennedy struck out Jose Altuve twice in the game...the first time a pitcher has struck out Altuve twice in a game since last August.

*Altuve isn't focused on the MVP race:
MVP is like you have to do everything perfect. I'm not saying I wouldn't like it. I think everybody would like to get an MVP, but it's really hard. I'm going to keep playing hard. I think the best MVP you can get is be in the playoffs and win the World Series.

*Altuve's Iron Man streak will likely come to an end against Anaheim.

*The Astros lost a Doug Fister start for the first time since April.

*The Astros won't be DHing A.J. Reed often.

*Yep, Alex Bregman and Teoscar Hernandez are headed to Fresno following tomorrow's Texas League All-Star Game. Fresno begins a series at Salt Lake City on Thursday. McTaggart:
(Bregman's) promotion means it's realistic he could be in Houston at some point this year.

*Angels pitchers Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney are hoping stem-cell treatment will help them avoid Tommy John surgery.

*From before last night's game against the Pirates: How Clayton Kershaw is putting together his best season.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*The Rangers beat the Red Sox, the A's beat the Angels, and the Mariners beat the Cardinals, so the Astros only picked up a game against the Angels. Your division looks like this:

*West Shreveport: -
*Houston: -9
*Seattle: -10
*Oakland: -15.5
*Anaheim: -17

*The Astros have won seven in a row, nine of their last ten, and still only picked up one game on the Ramgers. For the Wild Card:

WC1: -2.5
WC2: -1.5

*Per FanGraphs, the Astros have a 19% chance of winning the division and a 29.9% chance of making a Wild Card spot - a 20% playoff spot increase since May 1.

*The Astros put it to the Royals - yet again - winning 13-5. It's the first time the Astros have scored 13+ runs in back-to-back games since September 8-9, 2000 when the Astros put up a 13 and a 14 at Chicago.

*Since May 1 the Astros have gone 30-19, 3rd-best record in the AL. Only the 34-16 Ramgers and 33-18 Indians have a better record. Because of course.

*A.J. Reed walked twice, scored two runs, and had an RBI sac fly in his debut. Hinch is excited about Reed's progress vs lefties and the ability to move Marwin around the field. The Astros DFA'd Double-A catcher Alfredo Gonzalez to make room on the 40-Man for Reed.

*Altuve had four hits and would have had a cycle had his helmet not hit his foot, causing him to fall into 2nd. Correa:
He tripped and wasn't able to get it, so obviously we had to make fun of him. It was pretty funny the way the helmet hit his feet and then he just collapsed.

*During his 28-game on-base streak, Altuve has hit .411/.476/.589. In this Insider-only piece, Buster Olney breaks down Altuve's "historic" season.

*Doug Fister credits the military with his success.

*Corpus' David Paulino is serving a team-imposed suspension for a violation of team rules. Luhnow said it was nothing major, and wouldn't be for an extended period of time. Paulino hasn't pitched since last weekend and is not scheduled to pitch for Corpus today.

*Luhnow hinted that Bregman and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez could be on their way to Fresno after the Texas League All-Star Game this week.