*We got Inefficient Fiers yesterday and a rare Devo-saster which, combined with a fantastic start from Future Astro Marcus Stroman, resulted in a 7-2 Astros loss. The Astros are 59-29 and have a 15.5-game lead in the AL West.
*Creepy Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on Future Astro Marcus Stroman:
Stroman was dynamite today, against a good hitting club, too. His finger was great, but he just stayed on the attack.
Stay tuned for whatever the hell "his finger" means.
*The Astros managed to GIDP four times in the first five innings. Those four GIDPs in a single game is the highest for the Astros since August 7, 2014, a 6-5 loss to the Phillies (the 2014 Astros GIDP'd four times in a game three times). So are four GIDPs going to happen often? No. Was it frustrating? Yes. Am I glad I was at my daughter's birthday party instead of watching this game? Also, yes. But weird things happen. Let's go get Marcus Stroman before someone else does.
*But Mike Fiers didn't have a great start. Thirty of his first 60 pitches were balls. Or balls, if you're a negative person. That's okay, because Mike Fiers has been fantastic over the last six weeks, so he can turn back into Mike Fiers once in a while. His final line: 6IP, 5H/3ER, 6K:4BB. The last time he allowed nine baserunners in a start was on May 25, a 7-6 win against the Twins (10 hits, 1 walk). The walks are a little troubling. He's walked four batters in consecutive starts after having walked four batters just once this season previously.
After five rough innings, Fiers went back out for the 6th and did a pretty good job, for that inning. Fiers:
I thought I was coming out. I had to talk A.J. into letting me stay out there. I just wanted to save the bullpen a little bit more, save it another inning and help out.
*Noted Ramger-killer Josh Donaldson got a pitch up and in from Fiers, which apparently pissed him off, right before he hit a three-run home run:
I don't think the guy was trying to do it intentionally. But at the same token, it's up around the head area, and nobody appreciates that. At the end of the day, I was happy to help our team win.
*Chris Devenski had a bad day, allowing four earned runs on three hits and a walk in one inning of work. Way to go All-Star (/sarcasm). Those 4ER broke a nine-appearance run-less streak. You'd have to cumulatively go back to May 24 (19 appearances, 24.2IP) to get his last four earned runs. Ridiculously, his ERA is still at 2.73.
*Carlos Correa's 0x3, BB day broke his 15-game hitting streak but kept his on-base streak alive at 24 games.
*Marwin got his 16th home run of the season ranks 40th among MLBers, and tying him with Mike Trout, which means Marwin = Trout. However, his 218 ABs (note: not PAs, because I'm trying to get a jump on these by doing as much as I can on Saturday night while my wife is in the shower) are the fewest among those players with 16HR.
*Via the very valuable Christian Boutwell, the last time the Astros played a game without hitting a double was May 20. That's 45 games, homey. Offense is fine.
*SportsNet's extremely good reporter Shi Davidi talked to Jeff Luhnow about the Astros' plans for the trade deadline. Luhnow:
We want to win now, for sure, and we're going to do whatever it takes to win now. But at the same time, we've been building up currency, all these players in the pipeline so that we could be good for a long time. The Braves showed that they can do it for a decade plus. I don't know if we're going to be able to do that, but I certainly want it to be more than a three- or four-year run.
Imagine two to three more years of winning like this. (Mixed in with some dumb losses to the Blue Jays). If you don't click on any other article, read this one. It talks about the Astros planning moves to combat teams like Cleveland and Boston in October. And take notes. And change your pants when you're done.
*Jake Kaplan wrote about how Lance McCullers developed his curve.
*A.J. Hinch says everyone in the clubhouse wants more (and references the 2015 ALDS Game 4, a game of which we shall not speak):
I don't worry about contentment for our team. When you go to a man in our clubhouse, they want to be elite. They want to be really good. We want to lead the league in wins. Our aspirations are as high as they could possibly be. But everybody's are who feel like they have a chance.
*The Astros are 10-6 in 1-run games; the Rangers are 6-14.
*The Astros "came the closest" to a trade this past off-season for the Tigers' lefty reliever Justin Wilson, but balked at the Tigers' offer of Wilson for Derek Fisher. This season Wilson has thrown 32.2IP, 18H/9ER, 48K:12BB. The Detroit Free-Press' Anthony Fenech writes that the Astros (as well as the Cubs and Nationals) have had "high-level scouts" at Tigers games recently. And the Dodgers, who are probably going to land J.D. Martinez, are interested in Wilson, as well. Fenech also writes that, while the Astros will likely check on the availability of Justin Verlander, a deal for him would be out of character for Luhnow.
*Tyler White and Forrest Whitley were named organizational players of the month for June, presumably, unless they're just projecting (which, yanno, Ground Control, yanevaknow). Tyler White hit .381/.455/.783 in June with 9HR/28RBI, 21K:13BB. Whitley threw 20.2IP, 18H/4ER, 31K:12BB in June for a 1.74 ERA/1.45 WHIP. Check out the unfortunately named "Houston, We Have Prospects" podcast with Corpus' Sam Levitt, whose latest guest is Forrest Whitley.
*Corpus outfielder Ramon Laureano - going into last night's game - was hitting .214/.294/.321. But he's heating up. In seven July games he's hitting .407/.448/.852 with seven extra-base hits. Laureano had eight extra base hits in 47 games in May-June.
*All six of the Astros' All-Stars came up through the farm system, and Hooks manager Rodney Linares is stoked:
It tells you that we did a lot of hard work, and I think Jeff Luhnow and his crew what they did up there drafting those guys and kind of allowing us to put our hands on those guys. Also, all the credit goes to the players because they are the ones that play.
*Today is the Futures Game - 3pm Central on MLB Network or MLB.com. You can watch Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker on Team USA and Yordan Alvarez on Team World. 64% of the rosters from last year's Futures Game have been in the majors this year. Joe Musgrove and Alex Bregman were on the team last year.
*The Dodgers beat the Royals on a walk-off home run, and now have the best record in baseball by a half-game.
*Former Astros 2015 Wild Card Great Carlos Gomez says playing baseball in the United States is both a challenge and a dream.
*Do you want Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb this month? It's probably not going to happen.
*Arian Foster and Glover Quin invested in a 12-year old's lemonade stand.