*James Hoyt and Chris Devenski made that game way more interesting than it needed to be, turning an 8-2 lead in the 9th into a situation where the Astros had to use three relievers to get the final three outs in an 8-7 win over the Orioles. The Astros are 64-32 with a 34-11 road record. They have a 17-game lead with 66 games remaining. 51 of those games are against teams currently below .500. 31 of those games are against AL West teams, against whom the Astros are a combined 31-14.
*Fun part first: Yuli Gurriel had his first career four-hit game including a double and a home run. Hinch:
When he gets going and gets pitches to hit, he does a great job of using the whole field. He's truly a really, really good professional hitter. And the more comfortable he gets and the more he sees the league, the better he's getting.
As of the end of last night's game, Gurriel is the 5th player in the Astros starting lineup to hit .300. (Not counting Colin Moran's .500 average).
*Springer had three hits while Marwin and Colin Moran had two. Everybody in the lineup had at least one hit.
*And speaking of Colin Moran, he came into last night with one career extra-base hit from his previous stint in the Majors. Then he got a triple and a two-run home run. Moran, the nephew of Former Orioles Great B.J. Surhoff, was predictably excited:
I came to this ballpark a lot as a kid, so it's definitely pretty special to play here in the big leagues.
*Mike Fiers was legit, yet again, throwing 7IP, 6H/1ER, 9K:1BB. McTaggart notes that in his last ten starts, Fiers is 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA, 69K in 61IP. Hinch:
I've said it time and time again, in a time where our rotation was pieced together, he was a stable part of it.
*Fiers hit 93mph last night.
*But dear God the 9th inning was so stupid. With an 8-2 lead (Feliz allowed one run in the 8th), Hinch summoned James Hoyt to get the final three outs. Plot twist: he didn't. Hinch:
It was a mess of an inning from the beginning. They obviously put some good at-bats together. It can happen fast in this park. All's well that ends well with a win - albeit a stressful one in the end.
Hoyt retired the first batter he faced and then, whaddayaknow, allowed a walk, double, double, single to make it 8-4 with runners on the corners. Chris Devenski came in to try to get the last two outs, and he gave up a 3-run home run to make it 8-7 with Chris Davis up. Davis, who hit his 258th career home run on Thursday night against Arlington, bunted to the pitcher for an out. Kenneth then struck out Trumbo to end the game.
*As of right now the only time to throw James Hoyt is when you have a 6-run lead and three outs to get the win. But if he isn't reliable even then, what do you do? I'll give him credit for five straight appearances (July 2-15) when he didn't allow a run, but last night was the second straight outing in which he's allowed an earned run. In 15 road appearances, Hoyt has thrown 16.2IP, 18H/13ER, 27K:5BB. He has good stuff, doesn't walk many batters, he just can't miss bats. Which is an insane thing to type out given that he has 55 strikeouts in 35.1IP overall. Irritating.
*Righties vs Hoyt, 2017: .252/.282/.413
Lefties vs. Hoyt, 2017: .294/.360/.544
Yet 47.6% (68 of 143) of ABs batters have taken (ABs not PAs because it's 8:10am and Baseball-Reference hasn't updated yet) against Hoyt have been lefties.
*And yet it was Reymin Guduan who was sent back Fresno to make room for Collin McHugh. Jake Kaplan notes that Baltimore's righty-heavy lineup was likely the reason that it was Guduan and not Hoyt.
*In a geographically-convenient move (that barely seems fair) Dallas Keuchel will make what everyone hopes will be his final rehab start at Tri-City tonight.
*Yesterday I decided that the Astros can afford Justin Verlander, if they want him. Please, I'm begging you, note that the post was not *should* the Astros go get Verlander. The Tigers are "not remotely close" to a deal with any team.
*Crooked-ass Padres GM A.J. Preller wants the world for lefty reliever Brad Hand:
An anonymous executive joked to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, "I don't think the Dodgers would ask more for Kershaw than A.J. is for Brad Hand.
*Yu Darvish can block a trade to the Cubs, Indians, Pirates, Red Sox, and Rockies.
*It's not infuriating at all that - out of nowhere - I can't go to Cooperstown next week. Bagwell has been watching a lot of Astros games this season.
*Baseball America posted their Top 10 Astros Midseason Prospects:
1. Kyle Tucker
2. Franklin Perez
3. Francis Martes
4. Derek Fisher
5. Forrest Whitley
6. Yordan Alvarez
7. J.B. Bukauskas
8. Teoscar Hernandez
9. J.D. Davis
10. Garrett Stubbs
Notable that Bukauskas has yet to make his pro debut.
*For schadenfreude, check the Rangers' write-up:
A thinned-out farm system has seen several players struggle, with more spare parts than impact talent or projected everyday regulars in the organization.
*Forrest Whitley threw 3.2IP, 3H/2ER, 7K:2BB last night for Buies Creek. Stephen Wrenn was 3x5 with a home run and 2RBI. BCA is 19-9 in the second half with a 5.5-game lead on Winston-Salem.
*Cumulatively the Astros' domestic minor-league teams are 258-212 (.549). Minor-League Standings Check:
Fresno: 57-42, tied for 1st in the Pacific Northern division
Corpus: (49-49 overall) 15-13 in the second half, two games behind San Antonio
BCA: (56-42 overall) 19-9 in the second half, 5.5-game lead
Quad Cities: (56-40 overall) 19-9 in the second half, 3.0-game lead
Tri-City: 12-18, 5.0 back
Greeneville: 16-12, 1.5 back
GCL Astros: 12-9, 1.0 back
*There's a Kickstarter to save Mission Control.
*ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball lineup:
July 23: Cardinals at Cubs
July 30: Giants at Dodgers
August 6: Dodgers at Mets
August 13: Red Sox at Yankees
August 20: Cardinals at Pirates
The August 27 Sunday Night Baseball matchup hasn't been picked up, but the Astros @ Angels game time is the only one listed as TBD.
*If you've been reading all the way to the bottom of the Hot Links for the past, I don't know, two or three years, you've seen a lot of links to Vice Sports articles. Vice.com, in a continued effort to produce video content that everyone in the world hates in order to speed up the downfall of any semblance of a literate society, closed it down. Vice.com can go to hell. Websites, ranked by awfulness:
3. Websites that auto-play videos
2. Websites that auto-play multiple videos at the same time
1. Websites that move your browser window down so that you have no choice but to (a) throw your computer against the wall or (b) close the tab as quickly as possible and never go back to that website ever again.