Back from a quick vacation and so, it seems, are the Astros. Let's get to the links...
*The 33-36 Astros are now only 3.5 back of Seattle, but 11 back of the Rangers. The Astros are 18-12 in their last 30 games, good enough to tie for the 3rd-best record in the AL over that span. Problem is the Rangers have the best record at 22-8 in their last 30.
*After my large adult son Kenneth Giles allowed a 2-run 2-out 2-strike 9th inning homer, the Astros came back to walk off the game in the 11th, thanks to George Springer. Hinch:
It's not easy playing this many close games, and we continue to grind. Our at-bats got better as the night went on. This team has grown a little bit throughout all these extra innings, because we have a tendency to try to end it [with a home run]. To watch a couple of singles go through the infield, very timely.
*Keuchel said he wasn't thrilled about not getting the win, but ultimately like a good team player is glad the Astros won.
I'm a competitor, so yeah, I'm going to be frustrated with not getting the win. But team wins are ultimately more important...The last month or so I've been feeling real good, had some really tough luck. I'm going to keep doing what I can do.
Hinch might finally be getting it, saying his "instinct today was to take him out an inning too early rather than to leave him out there."
*Opponents vs Ken Giles in the 9th inning: .353/.353/.588; in high-leverage situations: .313/.347/.507
*Jerome Solomon writes that yesterday's win was necessary.
*BTS goes out on a limb and says George Springer should be an All-Star.
*Jim Callis wrote that Alex Bregman should move to Houston as soon as he's completely comfortable with playing 3B, but he's a better defender and hitter than both Valbuena and Marwin.
*In this video link, Ken Rosenthal says that the Astros might actually be buyers, not sellers, at the trade deadline here in about five weeks, to improve the rotation and the offense.
*Chris Devenski loves his changeup and believes in its "Bugs Bunny action."
*The Astros will honor Bill Brown's 30 years of broadcasting service before today's game.
*Fresno won 4-3 as A.J. Reed got a double and a homer; Brady Rodgers threw 7IP, 8H/3BB, 8K:1BB. Corpus beat Frisco 6-2 on David Paulino's 6IP, 4H/2ER, 6K:0BB; Lancaster lost 10-7 despite Bobby Boyd's 3x5 (2 2Bs/1 3B) day. Quad Cities beat Cedar Rapids, 3-2, thanks to Albert Abreu's 7IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:3BB start. Tri-City dropped to 1-1, though Stephen Wrenn went 3x3 with two walks, two stolen bases, and four runs scored.
*6th Round pick/Tri-City ValleyCat Stephen Wrenn hit a homer in his first professional AB Friday night.
*The Astros are currently well under their bonus pool allotment for the 2016 draft.