The Astros did what they normally do against the A's in the second half of the season, and that's completely crap the bed. Long-term it doesn't really matter, but it is super-annoying. Houston is 95-53 with a 7.5-game lead on Oakland. This is virtually impossible to blow. There are 14 regular season games left. I hate Oakland. Up next: weekend road series with Kansas City.
If Houston goes 7-7 in their last 14 games, the A's would not be able to win the division. Still, the Astros started the season 9-2 against Oakland. They finished the season 2-6 against the A's. Watching the scoreboards that actually matter:
New York (97-51): -
Houston (95-53): -2
Los Angeles (95-53): -2
*Updating the Home Franchise Record leaderboard:
*Houston now needs to go 9-6 in order to set the franchise record for wins in a season, for the second year in a row.
*Houston came into the series 27-2 against AL West opponents at home. They had lost two divisional home games all season long. The 15-0 win made it 28-2. Now they're 28-5. They lost more home games against a division opponent in 72 hours than they had in five months. A's manager Bob Melvin:
We played well against them at our place and this is probably the toughest place in the American League to play. To be able to come in and take three out of four and do it in different fashions every night, yeah, it felt good.
It obviously isn't the way we wanted it to go, but they played some really good baseball and came in here after taking a beating and turned around and gave us right back the favor. Obviously, we do want the home-field advantage. If it doesn't work out, then we'll do what we have to do to win.
*Verlander: 6IP, 5H/3ER, 11K:2BB. And took the L. It was a very stupid loss. It's the 3rd straight game in which the Astros have managed to scratch out exactly two runs in a Verlander start. In the six games in which Verlander has recorded the Loss, the Astros have scored a total of 11 runs. Idiots.
Verlander struck out eleven batters, giving him 12 starts with double-digit strikeouts, and also puts him at 2,981 strikeouts for his career. On the possibility of hitting 3,000:
I'd be lying if I said I didn't know where I was at. It's kind of on the back burner, I guess. I'm aware of it. I try not to focus on it too much, but it'd be pretty cool to get to it this year, for sure.
Verlander has at least two starts left this season, probably three, since there are inexplicably (but we'll take it) three off-days between now and the end of the regular season.
*McTaggart notes that the Astros rotation has 32 double-digit strikeout starts, tying the 1973 Angels for 2nd-most in MLB history, and three behind the 2001 Diamondbacks.
*The Astros were 0x10 w/RISP. Brantley, Altuve, and Bregman were a combined 0x7 with runners in scoring position. I'm not talking about any of them anymore.
*The Astros are close to getting Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel back in the lineup. Gurriel should be back in Houston for tonight's game in Kansas City, while Correa will start at SS in G3 of the PCL Championship Series. Hinch:
It's the downside of the injuries that happen this time of year if you're not fortunate enough to stay in the playoffs long enough or it's not convenient and you kind of have to make do with what you can. He's going to play as long as he can in Triple-A.
Brad Peacock will throw a bullpen next week, as will Ryan Pressly, with Pressly maybe getting activated first.
*Chandler Rome has a mailbag in which he addresses what the playoff bullpen might look like.
*MLB.com has a piece on one aspect of each AL West team that "experts" never saw coming. The Astros? The back end of the bullpen isn't a sure thing.
*Good piece in The Hardball Times on Verlander - Stranded on a Desert Island: Justin Verlander shoots for another record. Check this crazy stat: Justin Verlander has only gotten five GIDPs this season.
*Bob Nightengale: In an era of analytics, Verlander and Cole are keeping it old-school.
*Alex Bregman is the Astros' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
*Houston native and MLB Umpire Adrian Johnson makes it a point to visit childrens' hospitals.
*Shohei Ohtani is done for the year.
*SI's Steve Rushin on paper tickets and the memories they leave us.
*FiveThirtyEight: Do We Even Need Minor-League Baseball?
*The Book Thief of Monastery Mountain.
*A Musical Selection: