*A benefit of clinching the division in mid-September is that it should be around the All-Star Break when players go on paternity leave.
*The Astros have won 12 of their last 17 games - four of those losses coming in an inexplicable and, frankly, non-existent series in Oakland.
*The Astros clinched the division earlier than any of the previous six division winners, in Game 149. The previous best was the 1998 team, who clinched in Game 152. The Astros previous-best season-ending division lead was 12.5 games. They're 15.5 up on the division going into Tuesday.
*Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, who just declared themselves 2017 AL West Co-Champions.
*Justin Verlander was dominant again, throwing 7IP, 3H/1ER, 10K:1BB. Verlander's three starts with Houston: 21IP, 10H/2ER, 26K:3BB. He struck out six consecutive batters at one point.
*Hinch, on Verlander:
The story is almost too good to be true. We trade for him for this exact reason to come up in big moments. He was locked in from the very beginning. Nobody better to have on the mound and nobody better to celebrate with.
I don't think you could ask for a better introduction for me to the city of Houston than this. First home start would have been great. First home start and a win would have been great. First home start and to win in a division-clinching game - you can't make that up. And I'm looking forward to hopefully many more wins.
For us, this is just the beginning. We are just getting started.
*Homerz and homerz and homerz and homerz: Fisher, Marwin, Springer, Correa. All seven of the Astros' runs yesterday came on home runs. As Our Boy Michael Connor noted, it was the first time since September 10 the Astros hit a home run.
Congrats to our @astros on becoming AL West Division champs. They have truly earned it this season. #HoustonStrong #EarnedOctober #Astros— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) September 17, 2017
Crane: "We wanna win the World Series." pic.twitter.com/WiZC2OXM7Z— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) September 17, 2017
*Holy Toledo. Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of Milo Hamilton's passing.
*Altuve got the day off, so he has 13 games to get seven hits to get his 4th-straight 200-hit season.
You don't get this feeling every year. You embrace this. There's a lot of things that go into this. And I'm just so thankful that I'm a part of this team.
*ESPN's David Schoenfield says Verlander is trusting his fastball more, and that the Astros have their swagger back.
*McCann, on Verlander:
He brings a calmness. There is a calmness when he is on the mound. He is in full control of what he is trying to accomplish.
*Sports Illustrated would like to remind you that the Astros are one of the best teams in baseball.
*Richard Justice has a good piece from the Astros' clubhouse.
*Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson:
Does anyone in the division stand a chance against the young and talent-laden Astros over the next several years? The flippant answer is a resounding heck no.
We know we're going to have three days off [before the ALDS starts], so there will be plenty of time to rest guys. I think at this point, it's all hands on deck to try and win the games and get that lead back.
*Indians vs AL Central: 46-26
Astros vs AL West: 45-25
*Do you have a ton of money laying around? You, too, can get the Astros 2017 AL West champs gear.
*Via McTaggart: Colin Moran has been activated from the DL and will join the team in Houston on Tuesday.
*Jake Marisnick is predictably bummed about missing what everyone hopes will be a deep playoff run.
*Collin McHugh will get the start Tuesday night against the White Sox against Lucas Giolito. Hinch:
He threw a couple of bullpens. I was going to pitch him in a game two days ago and it didn't materialize. Any given time you have a nail problem it could come up again, but we feel like it's fine.
Given that the Astros are apparently worried that McCullers' arm is literally going to fall off if he throws another pitch, I bet McHugh is okay.
*World Series Odds Check:
-Baseball Prospectus: 11.5%
*Carlos Correa is giving 500 more beds to kids affected by Hurricane Harvey.
*The craziness surrounding the bidding for Shohei Otani.
*The Girl Gangs of El Salvador