*Shin Soo-Choo hit a leadoff home run against Justin Verlander, and then the Astros did some Astros things to beat the Rangers 7-3. The Astros are 40-25, still one game back of the Mariners (see below).
*Game in which the Astros won their 40th game of the season:
*Justin Verlander threw 6IP, 5H/3ER, 9K:3BB. It was just the second time in 14 starts that Verlander had allowed 3ER, but his 7th start with 9+ Ks.
*Adrian Beltre was 0x4 with 4Ks, his first Golden Sombrero since June 2, 2012.
*Collin McHugh (2IP) and Will Harris (1IP) each threw perfect outings.
*Jose Altuve hit his 5th home run of the season, going 2x4 on the night. It's his 25th multi-hit game of 2018. On the road, Altuve is hitting .415/.452/.600.
Bregman, who hit his 8th home run of the season:
When you have a starting staff that keeps you in every single game, and gives you a chance to win every time out, us as an offense, you need to be able to pile on insurance just to give them a little bit of comfort and a little bit of a lead. These guys know how to do it - they know how to pound the zone and get outs.
*Tony Kemp was 1x3 with a walk and an RBI. In 69 PAs this season Kemp has been on base 25 times (16 hits, eight walks, one HBP). In 120 PAs, Jake Marisnick has been on base 21 times (18 hits, three walks). Kemp also made a 121-foot sliding catch for the longest run by an Astros outfielder this season.
*With all four infielders standing to the right side of second base in Joey Gallo's AB, he laid down a bunt. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson wonders if the Astros didn't win that AB, anyway:
It's clear that Gallo has worked on his bunting, and it's something nice for him to have to keep defenses honest...His job, though, is usually to hit the ball hard and far.
*Carlos Correa was out of the lineup for a second straight game. Hinch:
I think what gives us comfort is that he hasn't had any pain since the night that he got injured. He's not feeling anything when he coughs, when he breathes, when he laughs, and sort of body movement.
*Here's Jake Kaplan on whether Dallas Keuchel is getting too far away from his bread-and-money-buttered sinker? Stay for this gem:
The reduced sinker usage is a result of Keuchel's attempt to attack batters' weaknesses as opposed to playing to his strengths. He's thrown it for only 43.6 percent of his pitches this season, according to Brooks Baseball. In each of his two All-Star seasons (2015 and 2017), he relied on the pitch 50 percent of the time or more.
*Forrest Whitley made his season debut for Corpus last night, throwing 4IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB in an 11-1 win over Frisco. Myles Straw (SB #35 on the year), Josh Rojas, and Ryne Birk (SB) each had three hits while Alex de Goti hit his 4th and 5th home runs of the year. Randy Cesar extended his hitting streak to 30 games.
Hunter Atkins: The rise, suspension, and return of Forrest Whitley. Roy Bragg says Whitley could be September bullpen relief for the Astros.
*Buies Creek beat Down East 5-2 last night. Hector Perez threw 6.2IP, 2H/2ER, 12K:2BB. The twelve strikeouts are a career-high. J.J. Matijevic was 2x5 with a double and a home run and is hitting .311/.339/.557 at High-A.
*The Mariners beat Tampa Bay 4-3 last night. They're 40-23. Twenty of those wins have been by one run. That's stupid. The Astros are 4-12 in 1-run games. That's also stupid. Baseball-Reference says the Mariners have won six games they shouldn't have won while the Astros have lost six games they shouldn't have lost.
*Jeff Sullivan: The Most and Least Team-Friendly Strike Zones.
*Shohei Ohtani will be out until at least July with a Grade 2 UCL sprain. Bad news for everybody. Ohtani represents 1.1 of the Angels' rotation's 4.9 fWAR and 0.9 of the Angels' lineup's 11.1 fWAR.
*Boston's Joe Kelly (there are literally 1.3 million dudes in Massachusetts named "Joe Kelly") has a pretty incredible Draft-Day story.
*The Athletic's Jon Greenberg has a great story about Itamar Steiner, the 1208th pick in the draft, by his favorite team.
*Anthony Bourdain and the power of telling the truth. RIP Anthony Bourdain: you were 23 years my senior and at least 60 pounds my junior, but I felt like we were soul mates. If you're like me and stacking Bourdain tributes in your Pocket queue, might I suggest Spencer Hall's eulogy.