Good morning and happy Labor Day, a holiday given by the federal government in 1894 after workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike to protest wage cuts. They called for a boycott of all Pullman cars (which was a lot of cars), resulting in the government sending in federal troops to break up the strike, setting off a string of riots that ended up with the deaths of over 12 people. Enjoy your day off!
The Astros swept the Mets yesterday on the strength of the offense, including newcomer Cameron Maybin's 3-run home run. The pitching staff bent but didn't break in an 8-6 win. The Astros are 83-53, back to 30 games over .500 for the first time since August 8. Cleveland won for the 11th time in a row. The Angels and Red Sox lost. So the Astros' division lead is 13.5 games while their lead on the AL is still 3.0 games on Cleveland. There are 26 games remaining.
*Yesterday evening I compared the remaining schedules of the Astros and Indians.
*Houston has its first four-game winning streak since July 1-5.
*The Astros scored 24 runs in the three-game series against the Mets. They had scored 23 runs in their previous six games combined.
*George Springer hit his 31st home run of the season, giving him two in the three-game series. He had hit two home runs in his previous 32 games.
It's nice, man. These guys have been doing this all year, and to be able to come in and do my part and play good defense and help manufacture runs, I'm looking forward to keeping this thing going. It's already been a fun two or three days.
*Carlos Correa was 1x3 with an RBI and a walk in his first game back from the disabled list. Hinch:
It's a big lift for us; we just added one of the best players in baseball. That's an exciting guy to get back in the middle of the order. There's a presence about having a guy like that in the middle of the field.
I felt like a child, it was so much fun. This is the game I love to play and to be out for...almost two months it was super boring.
*Tyler White was 3x4 with two doubles. Six of his twelve hits of the season have been for extra bases.
*Jose Altuve was hitless but re-took the AL Stolen Base lead with 31 after stealing two bases yesterday. He has 26 games to hit nine home runs and join the 30/30 club.
*Josh Reddick was 2x3 with 3RBI. He was 7x12 with 6RBI in the three-game series.
*Jake Kaplan noted that Alex Bregman hit .344/.400/.605 while Correa was on the DL.
*Mike Fiers had a rough one, allowing 7H/6ER with 1K:3BB. It's the third time in his last seven starts he's walked more batters than he struck out. In his last two starts Fiers has thrown 8.1IP, 15H/14ER, 4K:6BB. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's one of the rotation casualties at the expense of the additions of Verlander and McCullers. Fiers:
Another embarrassing start for me, getting our team off on the wrong foot. Luckily, my team is very good and responded to it well and we ended up getting the lead again. I just didn't do anything right today.
*Hinch, on Fiers:
The Verlander acquisition and the return of McCullers will put some pressure on us to make a decision.
It's nice to get back on track and string some wins together. We've had a really strange week. To have us win the last two out of three series, it's a good feeling. We need to win more games to win the division, and that's what we're focused on.
Note: If the Astros go 13-13 over their last 26 games, they will win the division. Anaheim is 13.5 back with 25 to play.
*Dallas Keuchel will pitch today against the Mariners, followed by Verlander tomorrow. If there isn't any rotation juggling (which, I'm sure there will be) then Keuchel and Verlander would start the final two games against the Rangers, Keuchel would start G162 and Verlander would be in line to be the G1 starter. There will probably be some rotation juggling.
*Richard Justice writes that Verlander's move to Houston was all about winning.
'Excitement' is an understatement...When you finally make a move, it's amazing what it does for the clubhouse, what it does for the city, what it does for the community.
*Luhnow, on adding Verlander:
Adding a top-of-the-rotation caliber, All-Star, Cy Young, MVP to our club is exactly what we need to maximize our chances of not only winning this year but potentially in the years to come. We're thrilled to have him here.
I was just so caught in between with emotion and excitement of a new ball club, and ultimately, it came down to winning and joining an organization that's set up to win for a long time.
*This Anthony Fenech piece details the events of August 31 and how the Astros got Verlander. Lots of great details here, the best details. Notably, Verlander was nervous about Minute Maid's reputation as a bandbox, nerves that were put to rest in conversations with Jim Crane and A.J. Hinch.
*Luhnow was asked about criticism of the team following the July 31 Trade Deadline That Wasn't. Here's what he had to say:
It was tough. When we didn't make any major moves at the end of July (Ed. Note: Liriano stands with his hands firmly on his hips) people said the sky was falling and we had ruined our opportunity to win a championship and so forth. But you can't let that sort of criticism and that sort of feedback affect what you're trying to do. We've constantly kept the best interests of the Astros in mind in every decision that we make and we're going to continue to do it, whether the fans approve or Twitter approves or the media approves.
*Jenny Dial Creech writes that Verlander provides Houston - the team, and the community - a shot in the arm.
*This Hunter Atkins story on Verlander getting challenged at 13 is good.
*An AL scout:
I know they have the best record in the American League but I didn't see any way they could get through two rounds in the postseason and make it to the Series with only one starter who really strikes fear in you. They needed another top-flight starting pitcher and I think the trade will give that team a mental boost, too. They had gotten a little stale after their hot start.
*Yuli Gurriel is dealing with knee inflammation, Jake Marisnick has a sore groin after stealing a base against the Rangers, and Carlos Beltran is dealing with upper-back/neck soreness. Evan Gattis will head to Quad Cities for a rehab appearance as Quad Cities will play their regular-season finale today before starting the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday.
*Forrest Whitley threw 4IP, 2H/2ER, 6K:0BB last night for Corpus, who won in extra innings and swept a doubleheader. They will play their final game of the season today vs. San Antonio and are tied with Midland for the final playoff spot.
*The Astros seem to have offered Colin Moran as the centerpiece of the failed Zach Britton deal. Moran is on a rehab assignment with Quad Cities.
*Jon Heyman writes that the Rangers started out Yu Darvish negotiations by asking for their top prospects, but came down to a set of "good A-ball" players. Houston offered David Paulino, who is on the suspended list.
*Hey Houston, uh, watch out for mosquitos.
*Harvey: Terror, heartbreak, and heroism. Harvey told through five Houstonians. This is one of the most powerful things you'll read today (if you haven't read it already).