Wednesday, October 17, 2018

UPDATED: Are the Astros stealing signs?

Sometime yesterday someone who calls himself "Danny Picard" published an article on something called "Metro US" that alleged the Astros were trying to cheat, and have been for quite some time. Picard:
In the third inning of the first game of the [ALCS], security removed a man claiming to be an Astros employee from the media-credentialed area next to the Boston Red Sox dugout, according to multiple security sources who were on the scene at the time of the incident. The man had a small camera and was texting frequently, but did not have a media credential.

After the man was removed another Astros staffer intervened - according to sources who were on the scene - and tried to convince security that he was authorized to be in the area next to the dugout. The man was not allowed back into the credentialed area, but was allowed to remain in the ballpark. 

Picard noted that MLB acknowledged this event happened, in an email on Tuesday. Picard also noted that, while no one would comment, no one - the Astros included - would also deny anything.

We can go back a couple of years for this. It started a while ago:

*April 19, 2016: Even though the Rangers beat Houston 7-5, Derek Holland (who had allowed three straight doubles to open the 2nd inning, scoring two runs) thought the Astros were up to something. Holland:
Yeah, they knew what was coming....It looked like they were telling each other what was coming; that's what it felt like. I could be wrong, but we were hearing some things...for them to be jumping on fastballs inside and curveballs, it's like they knew something was coming...They would whistle every time we went inside. It was just weird. We could hear it, big time, and it was only when I went inside. Now, that could be - it sounded like it was coming from their dugout, but...we could be totally wrong. 

*After a 7-1 loss on June 2, 2017 to the Astros, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos had the following to say:
Knowing when we played with Carlos Beltran here last year, the guys (on the Astros) steal signs like crazy on second base. That's why I was going to the mound every pitch, switching signs, making sure those guys wouldn't relay signs to the hitter. I think when we struck out Correa, we switched the signs just before we went to hit; if you see his swing, he was late because they thought we were trying the's because they were relaying the wrong signs from second base. We knew that when we went to play in Houston, that's just something we have to do...because we know those guys are relaying signs when they have a guy on second base. 

All seven of the Astros runs were scored with a runner on second base.

*September 2017: A Boston Red Sox trainer was found to be using an Apple Watch to steal signs, according to an MLB investigation, and commissioner Rob Manfred issued a warning to all 30 teams.

*In January 2018 Ken Rosenthal published a piece in the The Athletic saying that teams trying to switch signals and patterns in order to prevent their signs from being stolen was a major factor in MLB's efforts to address pace of play issues. Rosenthal notes that the 2016 Yankees liked getting signs but the 2017 Yankees didn't, because the signs were "a distraction." One of the pace of play initiatives was limiting mound visits, a decision with which Lance McCullers was none too pleased:

*August 25, 2018: The Astros beat Anaheim 8-3. Opposing pitcher Jaime Barria allowed 5H/4ER, 1K:2BB. Of Barria's 26 starts in 2018, this was tied for his 2nd-shortest outing of the season. Jaime Barria thought the Astros were stealing signs in the 1st Inning, in which he threw 36 pitches and allowed four hits and three earned runs. He said he recovered and changed the signs afterwards (line after the 1st: 2IP, 1H/1ER, 0K:2BB) but his outing drained him. The Astros won 8-3

*August 27, 2018: Oakland's Brett Anderson faced the Astros. In his second start of the season - which happened to come at home against Houston on May 7, Anderson allowed 10H/9R (7ER) 0K:3BB. The next time he faced them, on August 27, he allowed 7H/5ER, 1K:0BB in 2.2IP. In his previous four starts combined Anderson allowed 12H/2ER, 14K:2BB, in 26.2IP.

In 17 starts in 2018, Anderson allowed a 4.48 ERA / 1.28 WHIP. Against the Astros? 5IP, 17H/12ER, 1K:3BB, a 21.60 ERA / 4.00 WHIP. After that August 27 start, Anderson said:
I don't know if I was tipping pitches with guys at second or something but they seemed to be laying off good pitches and on certain pitches. So I've got to look at video, re-evaluate that. 

Anderson admitted in that article that he didn't have a good feel for his slider. Anderson would make four starts in September after getting a couple of weeks off following the 5ER in 2.2IP outing, he would throw 15.1IP, 21H/11ER, 13K:1BB, a 6.46 ERA and an .813 OPS-against.

August 31, 2018: Barria starts against Houston again, and the Angels won 3-0. Barria threw 6IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:1BB.

What was the difference?

October 16: 9:18pm. Cleveland beat writer Paul Hoynes says that Cleveland has filed a complaint with MLB over an Astros employee "holding a cellphone camera" being removed not once but twice, from the photographer's pit trying to film inside Cleveland's dugout during Game 3.  The next day (October 9) "Boston officials called the Indians to find out what happened." Bob Nightengale, I guess, confirmed this via an AP report.

This is a weird point because if Boston knows that someone was kicked out of Cleveland's media pit while the Astros' employee was trying to record on the Indians' dugout area, and not the other way around, then Boston was also keeping AN AWFULLY CLOSE EYE on Cleveland's dugout area.

For almost two weeks before the ALDS, the Indians worked hard to protect their signs because of Houston's reputation for stealing signs. The Astros reportedly try to train cameras on the opposing catcher, manager and bench coach in an effort to steal signs and pick up tendencies. 

*Jeff Passan, who is ALL IN on this, reported that the "someone" is Kyle McLaughlin, who was removed from both Progressive Field and Fenway Park. Passan, who went fishing on Instagram, noted that McLaughlin has pictures with Jim Crane AND Crane's private plane, and had removed "Astros" from his Instagram bio. Among the other things Passan alleges, according to sources:

-The Astros will sometimes clap from the dugout to signal pitches.
-The Astros will sometimes hit a trash can to signal pitches.
-The Dodgers thought the Astros were stealing signs in the World Series.
-MLB tried, and failed, to corroborate those allegations (something that seems like it should be mentioned earlier in the piece).
-The Astros have not been punished by MLB.
-Other teams do the same thing.

*Boston's Dave Dombrowski confirmed that the Red Sox were aware of the possibility that the Astros were trying to gain an "unfair advantage." Alex Cora:
I'm always concerned about that throughout the season. So I mean we do a good job changing sequences and paying attention to details. And we don't get caught up on the whole paranoia thing of the signs. We try to slow it down. If we feel there's something going on we switch the signs. 

Forbes reporter Maury Brown has a source who says the Astros' connection was trying to see if the Red Sox were doing it again, a plot twist of a reason for Chris Correa's current imprisonment (I'm doing this questionable thing to see if someone else is doing this questionable thing).

It's a mess. It's a bad look for sure. If you already didn't like the Astros then it's fuel for your hatred and a reason to dismiss the organization as a fraud. It's an unwelcome distraction from the very pressing matter at hand: the Astros need to win three games out of four against a team that won two games out of three all season long.

Either more will come out and clear it up - in the Astros' favor or otherwise - or nothing more will come up, and the Astros will have to deal with the whispers for...the remainder of their existence. For now, it's yet another black eye for the organization.


2:50pm: MLB released a statement regarding the entire situation:

*So I guess the situation is resolved. Maury Brown's source was correct. Jeff Passan was ultimately correct that other teams are doing it, too. And no one's opinion about the Astros will change.

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

So #blessed to be able to recap the abomination of this baseball game that happened yesterday evening. True story, I was unable to get yesterday and tomorrow off of work, so I had to listen to the radio call was I was hanging out at work. When Osuna gave up that grand slam, people were worried about me. Somebody literally gave me candy to cheer me up. I was sad. I am still sad. And I'm gonna be honest: I'm terrified for tonight. The way I see it, if we win this game tonight with Morton on the hill, we have Verlander at home for game five and another David Price start for game six (who was bad, even though the Red Sox won that game Sunday). If we lose tonight, sure we still have that going for us, but the problem is there are absolutely no room for error down 3-1 and I can't live with that.

~Dallas Keuchel had another rocky first inning and got his 6.88 first inning ERA inflated once more. He has given up 26 earned runs in the first inning and 24 earned runs in innings 2-4.

~Y'all hated Ken Giles but Roberto Osuna is sitting at a quite unfashionable 67.50 postseason ERA.

~Meanwhile, the Red Sox bullpen that I was told was bad has only given up 3 hits and only one run over 6.1 innings in the last two games.

~One of the positives to come out of this game, however, was Tony Kemp. I love Tony Kemp.

~So, uh, FiveThirtyEight now gives the Astros a 22% chance to win the World Series and a 33% chance to win the ALCS. HOWEVER, we have a 57% chance to win Game 4 tonight.

~FANGRAPHS ON THE OTHER HAND gives us a 54.2% chance to still escape the ALCS and a 35.2% chance to win the World Series. I like this one.

Betting lines are up on OddsShark for Game 4. I have no idea what these numbers mean, but you might.

~Ah yes, and after the game finished, we found out that the Astros might have been trying to steal signs. My unimportant take that nobody cares about: sign stealing is absolutely a part of the game, everyone does it, and it's part of the mental battle of this sport. However, taking pictures of the visitors dugout before the game and snooping around to somehow gain a competitive edge, that's too far in my opinion. I really hope that this story ends up becoming nothing, because I really don't want to try or listen to people try and defend this action. But, we have no other information. For all we know, this is just the media trying to find something to talk about. Anyways, Passan had the original story here if you're interested.

~Anyways, it's Charlie tonight. He hasn't pitched in a game in 18 days and has only thrown one simulated game in that stretch. Hinch says he will be aggressive with his bullpen if need be.

~ESPN writes that players like Marwin Gonzalez give this team a championship edge. 

~ESPN also writes that being down 2-1 brings up an awful lot of questions going into tonight's game.

~In the final ESPN article of the morning, Bregman is getting Bonds'ed.

~The Astros Foundation announced they had donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars towards multiple different women's shelters.

~Ryan Pressly.

~The Astros already know that they are a terrible awful baseball team so they are already making trades with the Marlins to tank the franchise and start all over again. Just unfortunate.

~Now it's the Washington Post's turn to give our bullpen some love.

~Alex Bregman does not like not-strikes.

~Mattress Mack put $150K on our Astros, because he's gotta earn that money back from all those mattresses he'll be giving away somehow :)

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1987, the first indoor World Series game was played. Dan Gladden's grand slam in the dome contributed to making the noise level crack 110 dB, the average human pain threshold in a study done by Purdue University.

In 1989, the World Series Game 3 between the A's and Giants was postponed after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake erupted in the Bay Area, killing 63 people in total. 

In 2004, Carlos Beltran tied Barry Bonds' postseason home run record with his 8th home run and broke another record with his fifth consecutive postseason game with a home run.

In 2005, Albert Pujols hit The Home Run in NLCS Game 5 against Houston. Don't click this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Off-Day yesterday for everyone in baseball except the Brewers, and Walker Buehler. Astros/Red Sox at Minute Maid Park at 4:09pm Central today. I'm actually okay with the afternoon start time, as the Dodgers are playing a home game in Game 4. No Start Time Shenanigans from me today!

*Since the beginning of the 2017 postseason, the Astros are 10-1 at home in the playoffs, the lone loss coming in Game 4 of the World Series, with a +30 run differential.

*As we go back to the simulation sites, it's worth remembering that FiveThirtyEight's Game Prediction is 0-2: They thought the Red Sox would win G1 and the Astros would win G2. That said:

-FiveThirtyEight still gives the Astros a 58-42 edge in the ALCS, with a 55-45 nod in Game 3.
-FanGraphs has the Astros at 54-46 over Boston in the series.

*It's not terribly surprising that Dallas Keuchel isn't a fan of Bullpenning. Keuchel:
I think the 25-man roster, maybe a 30-man roster, throughout the course of 162 games is an ancient artifact now, where teams are more willing to just do whatever it takes, no matter the cost. But I don't like that.

In that link, we find Alex Cora talking about Alex Bregman going 0x3 with 6BB and an HBP. Cora:
So far we keep throwing to the edges, and he's not swinging. He's taking his walks. But we'll stay with our game plan. We still are attacking him the way we feel. And I'm not saying, 'So far, so good,' but there's not too much damage done from that spot right now.

It will be up to the guys behind Bregman to drive him in and score some runs.

*Mark Feinsand has the three keys for the Astros to win Game 3.

*Jose Altuve may start at DH in Game 3. Hinch, on Altuve and his knee:
We're going to play three days in a row here. So I talked to him about that, and just for him to continue to give us what he's got. And he's fine. Obviously it didn't hurt his swing in the ninth inning [Sunday night]. He's able to be a productive player. But he's battling it a little bit.

*The Athletic's Rustin Dodd: A.J. Hinch, once ahead of his time, is fueled by the lessons of the past. History, FTW.

*Here's a good Tyler Kepner article on Dallas "Kuechel," which is East Coast Headline Writer-speak for "Keuchel." (Kepner got his name right in the article. The headline guy? Come on, dude.)

*For as much as J.D. Martinez doesn't want to talk about the Astros, he sure does bring them up a lot.

*Alex Bregman and his connection to Ted Williams.

*Going to any of the games this week? Parking is going to suck.

*NY Times' Billy Witz has a good article on bullpen-changer Ryan Pressly. Luhnow:
Knowing that A.J. doesn't have to go grab our fifth starter and hope he can get three or four innings of a close playoff game, yeah, that gives me a lot of comfort this year compared to last. 

*The Toronto Sun: "Dynastic" Astros a tough out.

*Washington Post: The Astros take good pitchers and make them better.

*Jerome Solomon: Roberto Osuna is ready to do his part for the Astros.

*Speaking of Osuna, the Astros have made a long-term commitment to work with a dozen local and state agencies that advocate for victims of domestic violence.

*A Musical Selection:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

Boy oh boy that was not the best Astros game I've ever watched. But, even with all of the mistakes, Alex Bregman was still about 2 feet away from tying the game in the 9th. Lucky enough for us, I truly doubt that we play that sloppily again. The upcoming three games being at home probably won't hurt either.

-Despite Gerrit Cole's less-than-ideal outing, he still outpitched Price.
Cole: 6 IP/6 H/4 ER/2 BB/5 K
Price: 4.2 IP/5 H/4 ER/4 BB/4 K

(Between you and me, if we decide to use some common sense, Cole gave up 5 ERs. If the pitcher causes the error, it should count as an earned run. Who wrote this rule?)

-Astros hitters in the first three innings: 5-9, 4 RBIs
-Astros hitters in the last six innings: 2-18, 1 RBI

-Alex Bregman has a borderline ridiculous statline of .000/.700/.000 in the ALCS so far.

-Unfun Fact - This was the first time a team has won a postseason game with David Price starting on the mound.

-Another Unfun Fact: Martin Maldonado allowed two official passed balls tonight. He has had 13 during the entire regular season and only 3 of those with the Astros.

-Yet Again With The Unfun Facts: Marwin wasn't doing great after hitting the straight up metal wall Boston decided to drop into their stadium.

-AJ's full postgame presser can be found here, where he talks the passed balls, Cora, Bregman, and more.

Well, lets check into the predictions:

Game 3 chance to win (Eovaldi vs. Keuchel): 55%

Pre-Game 2 chance to win the series: 70%
Current chance to win the series: 59%

Current chance to win the World Series: 38%

Change to win the series: 52.4%

Chance to win the World Series: 35.2%

-Charlie Morton has been officially announced as the game 4 starter. He has not pitched in a MLB game since September 30th.

-A lot of teams who need a manager want Astros brand new bench coach Joe Espada.

-Verlander is not thinking about retirement. Verlander also immediately got better once joining the Astros, and Ted Berg dives in to tell us how.

-Here's your daily article of just how good Alex Bregman has been.

-Here's your daily article asking if the 2018 Houston Astros are the best team in franchise history.

-How dumping Ken Giles transformed the Astros bullpen.

-Astros and Texans fans tailgated together, and somehow the Texans were the team that delivered.

On This Day in Baseball History
-In 1892, Reds pitcher Bumpus Jones throws a no-hitter against Pittsburgh in his first career start. It was also the latest date a no-hitter was thrown in an MLB season.

-In 1964, Mickey Mantle played his final postseason game, hitting his 18th career postseason home run.

In 1982, Cardinals rookie Willie McGee became the third rookie to hit two home runs in the same postseason game.

In 1986, the Mets defeated the Astros in the longest postseason game ever played (16 innings, 4 hrs. 42 minutes) to advance to the World Series. Reminder, you don't have to click the link.

In 1988, Kirk Gibson hit a home run that you might have seen before.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Interesting that the Astros were favored to win the Series, but FiveThirtyEight gave the G1 advantage to Chris Sale. Astros erupt for a couple of key homers and get solid starting pitching from Verlander, and take a 1-0 lead on the Red Sox. It was a weird game.

*There have been 36 LCS since 2000. Of those the team that won Game 1 went on to win the Series 25 times. The 11 who lost G1 and still won the Series:

-2013 Boston Red Sox
-2012 St. Louis Cardinals
-2010 Texas Rangers
-2008 Boston Red Sox
-2006 New York Mets
-2005 Anaheim Angels
-2005 Houston Astros
-2004 Boston Red Sox
-2003 New York Yankees
-2002 Anaheim Angels
-2000 New York Yankees

Jayson Stark: The team that won Game 1 went on to win 111 of 173 best-of-seven series.

*That G1 win shifted the FiveThirtyEight simulations to a 70-30 Astros series win. The Astros are 53-47 in G2.

FanGraphs has the ALCS at 68.7-31.3 Astros.

*Houston is 5-1 in Game 1s under A.J. Hinch. McTaggart notes that the Astros are the 2nd team in history to hit a home run in 13 consecutive postseason games (the 2001-2004 Astros did it, too). Hinch:
Mistakes happen at all times. But when mistakes happen in the playoffs and the momentum starts to shift to the other side, that's what you want to do. When you get an extra out, take advantage of it. 

*Through four postseason games, the Astros' pitching staff has held the Indians/Red Sox to 0x9 with runners in scoring position.

*Justin Verlander: 5IP, 2H/2ER, 6K:4BB.

Verlander had not walked four batters in a game all year. In 24 career postseason starts, Justin Verlander walked four batters for the 3rd time. Verlander's teams are 3-0 when he walks four batters. Weird. Verlander's teams are 15-9 when he starts a postseason game. The Astros are 7-1 in the postseason when Verlander starts.

Verlander's two runs came in the 5th when he walked three batters, including walking in a run, and threw two wild pitches, one that scored another run and tied the game at 2-2. Verlander:
That inning I had kind of lost my feel a bit. Couldn't point a finger to why. The tying run scoring was disappointing...But once that happens, then you've got to reset and not relinquish the lead. 

More Verlander:
To be able to get out of that inning and keep us tied, not relinquish the lead, that was, for me, the ballgame.

*Lance McCullers threw 13 pitches - 11 curves and two changeups. Eight were strikes, and he rung up two batters.

*Chris Sale allowed 1H/2ER, 5K:4BB.

Chris Sale had walked seven Astros in his 63.2 career IP before walking four last night.
Chris Sale had walked three batters in 16 career postseason IP coming into last night.

I still like our chances. We've got [Price] on the mound and we got a bunch of guys in here that are fired up over tonight. We're not gonna hang our heads in the locker room. We're not gonna give up. This is the time when we kick in gear and start fighting. 

*Josh Reddick hit his first postseason home run since Game 3 of the 2013 ALDS - a span of 127 PAs. Reddick:
We came in here knowing we had to take at least one out of here, so now we have the chance to go back to our place and hopefully clinch it out. Winning Game 1 was a huge step for us.

*Yuli Gurriel hit a 3-run home run, his first HR/3RBI game since GAME 5 OF THE 2017 WORLD SERIES. It's the 3rd 3RBI postseason game of his career. Gurriel has three hits this postseason, two of them for extra-bases.

*Carlos Correa was 1x3 with 2BB and the game's go-ahead RBI. Correa has 3K:5BB this postseason. Correa:
That was huge. It stopped their momentum, which came from scoring two runs the previous inning. It was huge, but most importantly, it gives me a lot of confidence, which is key.

Correa has 22 postseason RBI, most by any player in MLB history before turning 25 years old.

*Alex Bregman was 0x1 with 3BB, HBP and two runs scored. He's the first player to reach base four times in a playoff game without a hit since David Ortiz in the 2013 World Series. Bregman's 2018 postseason: .500/.737/1.200, 1K:7BB.

Jake Kaplan: Alex Bregman got it done by any means necessary.

*George Springer extended his postseason hitting streak to 10 games, tying Lance Berkman (2001-2004) for a club record. Since going 0x4 with 4K in G1 of the 2017 World Series, Springer is hitting .429/.510/1.071 in the postseason. Springer:
This is a clubhouse that believes in every guy. Doesn't matter who gets the job done, just get the job done. Pass the torch on to the next guy. I know that goes the same way with the guys in the bullpen, the starting staff, the guys who are playing and then the guys who come into the game. It's 'How can I be productive for the guys?' And it's a great thing to watch.

This team finds a way. In big moments, they show up. From top to bottom, nobody cares who the hero is as long as we have a hero.

*Game 2: Cole vs. Price, and the pressure's on Price. It's a 6:09pm Central start.

*Jeff Passan: The Astros look like they're on the cusp of a dynasty. Passan:
The game was close, closer than it deserved to be, and then it wasn't. Because just like that, every aspect of the Astros' excellence - hitting, fielding and pitching - can activate, and when it does, there's no better team in the world, not even the 108-win Red Sox.

*USA Today's Bob Nightengale: The Astros will be hard to beat, playing like this.

*Ronaldo is an icon of corruption in sports.

*A Musical Selection:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday Morning ALCS Hot Links

The last time the Astros had four days off was the All-Star Break and all they did in the next seven games was....go 3-4 nevermind that's a bad one to start with. The Astros got some rest, hopefully 'Litos enjoyed his time in the cryogenic chamber. Here we go. Tonight is the beginning of the 1st postseason series in which both teams had 103+ wins since 1942.

*The Astros are 4-1 in Game 1s under A.J. Hinch. The lone loss was to the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series and they went on to WIN THE WHOLE DAMN THING.

*The Astros are 5-8 in Road Playoff Games under A.J. Hinch. Houston has also won the World Series.

*Chris Sale vs. Houston, regular season: 5-2, 54IP, 35H/11ER, 71K:6BB, 1.83 ERA / 0.76 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, 1st five regular season starts (2012-May 2016): 41IP, 23H/3ER, 47K:4BB, 0.66 ERA / 0.66 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, last two regular season starts (2016/18): 13IP, 12H/8ER, 15K:2BB, 5.54 ERA / 1.08 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, playoffs: 0-2, 9.2IP, 12K:1BB, 8.38 ERA / 1.45 WHIP.

*FanGraphs has it at 54-46 for an Astros ALCS win, FiveThirtyEight at 52-48.

*Big roster news of the day was that Will Harris was left off the ALCS roster, while Hector Rondon and Joe Smith were added. Myles Straw was left off the roster, as well. Harris:
I'm disappointed, man. I'm a competitor. I've been in this organization now for four years and I've felt like I've had the best four years of my career since I've been here. This is why we play, to pitch in the postseason. It is what it is. I'm proud of the year I had, I'm proud of the way I pitched, I'm proud of the way I've handled myself, so we'll see what happens going forward. 

Josh James made the bullpen and his 2.2IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB appearance at Fenway on September 8 certainly didn't hurt his chances.

Hector and Joe are both very valuable relievers - very high-end relievers for us. You just have to pick a group of guys and we're going with the guys who we feel are the best matchup for the different looks at different parts of the batting order. Not an easy exercise. 

Will Harris got the news on the 3rd anniversary of his 0.2IP, 4H/4R (3ER), 1K:0BB outing in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS. Harris pitched in 61 games in 2018 and had a scoreless outing in 49 of them. In the 12 outings in which he allowed an earned run, six of them were 2+ ER games, including one against the Red Sox in June in which he allowed 2HR in the 7th inning of a 5-4 loss. Harris allowed 1H/1ER, 0K:1BB to Cleveland in G3 - the first ER he had allowed since August 14.

*Myles Straw was pragmatic about his seven-game break:
I had a feeling. I wasn't too shocked. I want to be out there with the guys and I want to compete. It is what it is, but it's whatever puts the team in line to win. I'm here for these guys to win and go as far as we can.

Myles Straw may have appeared in 11 career games in Houston, but he's already the 2018 Astros County Good Teammate of the Year award-winner, an award which began all the way back to about ten minutes ago.

*Correa says his back feels as good as it has since coming off the DL. I bet the 3-run homer helped.

In that article we find that bench coach Joe Espada has interviewed with Arlington while Anaheim has expressed interest, as well. Makes sense for two AL West teams to get an Astros coach


*'s Mike Petriello: How Astros' analytics improved their starting pitchers. I'm not even going to pull anything from this. It's orgasmic. Go read it. It's free.

*The word of the day was "compete."

*The Athletic's Eno Sarris: Three numbers that could define the ALCS.

*Justin Verlander wants to add to his Hall of Fame resume.

*Alex Cora did not see the Astros' acquisition of Martin Maldonado coming.

*Jake Marisnick ain't skeered of the Green Monster.

*Lance McCullers is having to embrace a new routine in the bullpen.

*Joe Posnanski: Does the ALCS feature two of the best baseball teams of all-time?

*FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan: Baseball's most unhittable pitch belongs to Ryan Pressly.

*True story: I packed up everything I owned into a Honda Civic Hatchback three days after graduating from college and moved to Nashville. I moved back to Texas nine months later because the girl I've been married to for the last 15+ years decided we should probably start a serious relationship. I convinced a friend from college that I wrote all of Uncle Kracker's songs. So everytime I hear that Follow Me song, I think of that, and laugh every time. Then we moved to Nashville from Cooperstown and lived there for 5+ years before...moving back to Texas. So, having spent a large portion of my adult life in Nashville, I enjoyed reading about the Nashville ties in the ALCS.

*Former Astros Great Mark Loretta played for all four LCS teams.

*The Ramgers interviewed Joe Girardi yesterday.

*In case you missed it: Ben Reiter, of Astroball fame, got an interview with Chris Correa, currently serving out a 46-month sentence for hacking the Astros' database.

*A musical selection: