Well after Joe Thatcher's meltdown last night in the 8th (a hard-hit ball to left by Lindor that Rasmus was a fraction of a second late on throwing out at second, a walk, and a crushed ball to right), there is but a half of a game separating the Astros and Angels in the projected standings by FanGraphs. The Astros' division odds have fallen to 48.5% while their playoff odds are 72.4%. The Astros' division lead, even with the Angels winning nine of ten, is at 1.5 games.
*Tyler Bauer struck out nine batters in 8IP and retired 12 straight from the 4th-8th innings. Hinch wants to tip his cap:
We're facing some good pitching. They've exploited a few chase counts. These guys have good pitching.
Hey guess what? If the Astros are going to finish this crazy season off, they're not going to have the luxury of teeing off on Joe Blanton three times in a five-game series, they're going to face some good pitching in the playoffs. And swinging at 58-footers like this is cricket four times a game isn't going to get anything done.
*Tyler Bauer's reaction to Gattis' lumberjack homer was fantastic:
I love Gattis. His approach is awesome. I threw the first one - it was like 94 down the middle - and he fouled it back, and it struck me as weird. I was like, that doesn't look like a normal foul ball. I'm just going to throw a fastball up, out of the zone and kind of reset. I didn't know what pitch to throw next. So I threw a fastball up, and it was two feet out of the strike zone. So what are you going to do? It's great. I love baseball for that reason. Because stuff like that happens.
*The Astros might want to consider some gas-throwing bullpen additions, writes Evan Drellich.
*MLBTR has some hard-throwing names on non-contending clubs that might not cost an arm and a bat in prospects: Jake Diekmann and Ken Giles (Phillies), Bryan Morris and Sam Dyson (Marlins), Jeremy Jeffress (Brewers).
*The Astros don't plan to option McCullers to the minors like they did Velasquez, who wanted Velasquez's roster spot for the bullpen.
*Mark Buehrle had been drinking beer during Game 4 of the 2005 World Series. That was the Ezequiel Astacio/14-inning game where the White Sox got two runs in the 14th inning to win 7-5 and take a 3-0 series lead. Buehrle faced Adam Everett with two outs and Orlando Palmeiro on 3rd and Ausmus on 2nd, and got Everett to pop up to short to end the game.
*Sports On Earth's Anthony Castrovince predicts the Astros will hold on to the AL West lead.
*Here's a nice profile on Astros fan and proprietor of the invaluable Baseball Savant website Daren Willman. I'm very happy for the notice he's received.
*Delino DeShields wanted to buy a Porsche, and his parents wouldn't let him.
*Hey guys, Casey Close is at it again, this time with 1st Round Braves pick Kolby Allard