*The Astros beat the Mariners for the 14th time in 19 games at Minute Maid Park, with Mariners starters recording a 7.48 ERA in that span.
*AL West: Red Sox beat the Rangers, Minnesota beat Oakland, the Angels beat the Rays.
*Wild Card: Toronto beat Kansas City.
*The Astros are a game behind Toronto for the WC1 and a half-game behind Boston for WC2.
*FanGraphs: 31.1% to win the division, 62.1% to make the playoffs.
*FiveThirtyEight: 19% to win the division, 50% to make the playoffs.
*BaseballProspectus: 18% to win the division, 51% to make the playoffs.
*The Astros have now picked up three games on the Rangers in their last ten and are 6.5 back of Fort Worth, while providing a three-game cushion on the Mariners thanks to the sweep.
*The Astros won despite Mike Fiers completely ineffectual start for the 2nd time in three games. The Astros gave Fiers a 5-0 lead and he couldn't make it out of the 4th, allowing 5H/4ER, 4K:2BB and three homers allowed in the 4th. On June 25 the Astros gave Fiers a 9-1 lead and he couldn't get out of the 5th, allowing 9H/2ER, 1K:3BB.
According to Baseball-Reference, when pitching with a lead, Fiers has allowed a slash line of .350/.399/.636 with 10 homers allowed in 153 PAs.
*Luis Valbuena hit a monster 2-run homer in the 8th to spark a third attempt in the game to beat down the Mariners. They're 9-0 in their last nine games against AL West teams. Hinch:
We haven't had a game like this, that I can remember, where we jump out to a big lead, they have two really big innings to get back in it, and then us having the resiliency to win in the end. It's a different way to win. I'm proud of our guys for how we stuck in the game.
Carlos Gomez, who had three hits and three RBI:
Even early in the season, we never [felt] disappointed. We have that positive [energy], and we know that we have a really good team to compete and have a really good season.
Gomez on Valbuena: “Look at him. He’s the f**king guy.” #Astros— Jordan Ray (@JordanLRay) July 7, 2016
*Brian T. Smith says the Astros should focus on winning the division. Foster, on the team's early season struggles:
In hindsight, it's been a blessing for us. We've learned a lot about ourselves. When you get backed into a corner, you can do one of two things. You can just stand in the corner and take whatever's coming, or you can come out swinging. Obviously, we've come out swinging.
*George Springer is 2nd in fan voting for the All-Star Game behind someone named "Michael Saunders." Springer ain't about that Home Run Derby life.
*Carlos Correa isn't distraught about not making the All-Star team.
*Watch this CBS Fresno video interview with Alex Bregman.
*Corpus' David Paulino is back at Extended Spring Training following an eventful run that included a team suspension and arm soreness which placed him on the DL.
*Corpus manager Rodney Linares has been suspended for three games, so the short-term interim manager is...Morgan Ensberg.
*Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo mouthed off about not getting promoted to Double-A, and got suspended instead.
*Vice Sports: Shohei Otani is the best thing in baseball.
*Ryan Adams reflects on 16 years of Heartbreaker