*The playoffs start tonight! Three-game series at East Weatherford. Pitching matchups:
Friday: Fister vs. Griffin
Saturday: Keuchel/Musgrove vs. Holland
Sunday: Keuchel/Musgrove vs. Darvish
*Yesterday I broke down the September schedules of a few contenders. And no one ahead of the Astros in the standings played yesterday, so the math will be valid for a few more hours, anyway.
*That said, Springer and the Astros know what's ahead of them - the next 13 games are against first-place teams. Springer:
We understand there's 29 games to go, and we clinched in the 7th inning of Game 162 last year, so we understand this is far, far from over. But also at the same time, we've got to have a sense of urgency and not let it slip away.
It's a tough schedule, but if we're going to make an impact this year in the postseason, we're going to have to learn to beat good teams. So no better time to start than now.
*Dan Szymborski says it'll take 88 wins to make the playoffs this season. If that's true, the Astros will need to go 17-12 over their last 29
*Jon Heyman feels like Altuve is the "sentimental favorite" in the AL MVP race.
*Rasmus, on facing Gomez for the first time:
It will definitely be interesting. He's a different character. There may be a chip on his shoulder and I think that he's going to definitely come with some extra juice against us. Which is fine. That's something we'll have to combat at the time and hopefully our pitchers can quiet him down and we can beat 'em.
If Colby Rasmus says you're a different character...
*Fresno lost 2-1 in the bottom of the 14th inning - a game that lasted 4h59m - featured 31 combined strikeouts and 20 combined walks. Fresno and Tacoma were 4x22 w/RISP and left 33 men on base. Fresno is 70-69 and has already been eliminated from the playoffs. They'll need to go 2-2 to finish with a winning record.
*Corpus was held to three hits in a 3-0 loss at Frisco last night. Corpus is 82-54 and will play Midland in the first round of the playoffs beginning next Wednesday.
*Lancaster allowed six runs in the final two innings to lose 6-3 to Rancho Cucamonga. Lancaster has a two game second-half lead with four games remaining in the regular season.
*Quad Cities rode three unearned runs to a 3-2 win over Kane County, but their loss on Wednesday night eliminated them from playoff contention.
*Tri-City scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th to walk it off against Staten Island, but were eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday.
*The Greeneville Astros' season finale was rained out last night. No playoffs for the Gastros.
*This guy answers FiveThirtyEight's analysis of the Rangers' 30-8 record in one-run games with some sabermetrics of his own:
As someone who is blessed enough to watch and to cover this team, I have another theory. How about heart, determination and good old-fashioned TWTW, as White Sox longtime TV announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson likes to call it?...That heart, determination and sheer will to add another W are all things which can't be accounted for in statistical analysis pieces.
*From Jon Heyman: The Astros claim Jeff Luhnow was joking about the no-trade clause flap, but he shouldn't have said it at all.
*The Boston Globe: Is Triple-A a critical step for development?