Valbuena's big night gives Astros third straight win

Valbuena's big night gives Astros third straight win

SEATTLE -- Houston third baseman Luis Valbuena slugged two home runs, including a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning off Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar, and the Astros won their third straight with a 7-5 victory over the Mariners on Monday.

"We showed a lot of character tonight," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I love the way we battled back on both sides. We had a chance to implode when they had a lot of traffic on and we didn't. We tacked on a few runs to tie the game and got a little momentum, and obviously Valbuena came through with some big hits."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Early success has Astros feeling bullish about their 'pen

Early success has Astros feeling bullish about their 'pen

SEATTLE -- Lefty Tony Sipp was with the Astros last season when they struggled to protect leads, which had pretty much been the case the previous two years as well. But a weakness has turned into a major strength for the Astros, whose bullpen did another excellent job in Monday's 7-5 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

With starter Asher Wojciechowski pulled after he allowed the first two batters in the fifth to reach base with the score tied, the bullpen held Seattle to one run and two hits in five innings to lower its season ERA to 2.06. Houston had the second-lowest bullpen ERA in the American League entering Monday.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Power display erases Valbuena's slow start

Power display erases Valbuena's slow start

SEATTLE -- Luis Valbuena continues to swing a hot stick for the Astros, blasting a pair of home runs in Monday's 7-5 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field to give him five home runs on the season -- all in the last seven games.

Valbuena, acquired in a trade with the Cubs, won the starting third-base job with a hot spring, and in the past week, he has overcome a slow start with an impressive display of power. He hit a solo shot in the first inning on Monday off Hisashi Iwakuma and broke a 5-5 tie with another solo blast in the eighth, this one off Danny Farquhar.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch not worried about Carter's early struggles

Hinch not worried about Carter's early struggles

SEATTLE -- One of the big reasons the Astros rank last in the Major Leagues in runs scored 12 games into the season is because of the early struggles of first baseman Chris Carter, who finished second in the league in homers in 2014.

Carter, who was given the day off on Monday, is hitting .075 (three singles in 40 at-bats) with no home runs and 17 strikeouts. Last season he hit .227 with 37 homers and 88 RBIs but had several stretches in which he was lost at the plate.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Protective pad in cap gives McHugh peace of mind

Protective pad in cap gives McHugh peace of mind

SEATTLE -- You can hardly tell when he's on the mound, but right-hander Collin McHugh is one of the few pitchers in the Major Leagues who wears protective head gear. About halfway through last season, McHugh started wearing a protective pad inside his cap that can't be seen from the outside and protects the right side of his head if a ball is hit back at him.

The pad, a rectangular piece of Kevlar with some padding on the inside, was developed by SST Baseball, which is owned by McHugh's high school teammate, Matt Meier. It fits inside the cap and goes across the front panel.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McHugh gets start at Safeco, site of past brilliance

McHugh gets start at Safeco, site of past brilliance

Astros right-hander Collin McHugh will start against the Mariners at Safeco Field on Tuesday night nearly a year to the day his career turned around with a brilliant game in Seattle.

It was April 22, 2014, when McHugh, claimed off waivers in the offseason, was called up to make a spot start and wound up striking out 12 batters in 6 2/3 innings en route to his first Major League win. McHugh's only other double-digit-strikeout game came on April 15 of this season in a win over Oakland, which was his ninth consecutive win.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Feldman rebounds with strong outing to beat Angels

Right-hander allows two runs over six innings in Sunday's win

Feldman rebounds with strong outing to beat Angels

HOUSTON -- The Astros finally won a game that wasn't started by Dallas Keuchel or Collin McHugh.

That's because veteran right-hander Scott Feldman rebounded from a shaky outing earlier in the week to hold the Angels to two runs and six hits in six innings in the Astros' 4-3 win in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Valbuena shows pop to back Feldman's fine outing

Valbuena shows pop to back Feldman's fine outing

HOUSTON -- Scott Feldman bounced back from a rough start six days earlier and the Astros did just enough offensively to sneak past the Angels, 4-3, at Minute Maid Park on Sunday afternoon.

With that, the Astros won their second of four series to start the season and improved to 6-6.

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Valbuena displaying home run stroke Astros expected

Lefty-swinging infielder tied for team lead with three home runs

Valbuena displaying home run stroke Astros expected

HOUSTON -- The Astros traded for Luis Valbuena in the offseason partly because of his ability to hit for some pop, which he did last year by slugging 16 homers with the Cubs. Two weeks into his Astros career, he's tied for the team lead with three homers after his two-run blast in the third inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Angels.

Valbuena, a left-handed hitter, has homered twice to left field in his past three games, on Sunday sending the first pitch he saw from Garrett Richards in the third inning into the Crawford Boxes to score Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with the second of his three hits.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Springer's home run overturned by replay review

Springer's home run overturned by replay review

HOUSTON -- An overturned call cost Astros outfielder George Springer his second home run of the season Sunday afternoon.

Springer, who slugged his first homer of the year in Saturday's win, shot a 2-2 pitch from Angels reliever Vinnie Pestano down the right-field line with one runner on base in the seventh inning and was initially rewarded with a home run.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros benefiting from close-knit veteran bullpen

Astros benefiting from close-knit veteran bullpen

HOUSTON -- Everyone knows camaraderie is a key among relievers, who are usually sequestered in the bullpen during games and are on different schedules from everyone else. And few players have such dramatic highs and lows on a nightly basis.

The Astros, of course, have had a lot of lows in the bullpen the last few years, which is why they made it a top priority to improve it. The bullpen has been one of the team's strengths two weeks into the season, and their previous familiarity with each other has helped.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers back six scoreless from Keuchel

Homers back six scoreless from Keuchel

HOUSTON -- George Springer led off the sixth inning by blasting his first home run of the season to break up a scoreless duel, and Robbie Grossman hit a three-run homer in in the seventh to send the Astros to a 4-0 win over the Angels on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel (2-0) continued his terrific start to the season by throwing six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out seven batters. He's allowed only two runs in 20 innings he's pitched this season.

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Legends, astronauts celebrate Astrodome's 50th anniversary

Members of first Astros team to play in Astrodome join pre-game ceremony

Legends, astronauts celebrate Astrodome's 50th anniversary

HOUSTON -- Bob Aspromonte hit the first official home run in the Astrodome for the Astros. Bob Bruce was on the mound for the Astros and threw the first official pitch in the building known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Larry Dierker called the Astrodome home for more than a decade as a player, and even longer as a broadcaster and manager.

Fifty years after the Astros played their first game in the Astrodome, several members of that team, including Aspromonte, Bruce, Dierker, Ron Brand, Dan Coombs and Jimmy Wynn, caught the ceremonial first pitches prior to Saturday's game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. The Astros were known as the Colt .45s for the first three years of their existence before moving to the Astrodome in 1965.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel continues hot start by dominating Angels

Left-hander tosses six scoreless innings for second win of 2015

Keuchel continues hot start by dominating Angels

HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is on some kind of roll to start the season. Keuchel threw six scoreless innings Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, holding the Angels to two hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in the Astros' 4-0 win. He's allowed two earned runs in 20 innings to lower his ERA to 0.90 through three starts.

"I felt good," he said. "That's a talented lineup over there, and I was lucky enough to get out of six innings."

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Astrodome remembered as baseball innovation

50-year-old structure was sport's first indoor stadium

Astrodome remembered as baseball innovation

HOUSTON -- There was that first time they walked into the Astrodome. Fifty years later, it remains etched in their hearts and minds.

"I remember thinking, I'd just walked into the next century," Larry Dierker said.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Springer, Grossman provide long-ball support for Astros

Homers help spark struggling offense to 4-0 win on Saturday

Springer, Grossman provide long-ball support for Astros

HOUSTON -- George Springer's first homer of the season in the sixth inning eased the tension, and Robbie Grossman's first blast of the year an inning later sealed the deal in the Astros' 4-0 win over the Angels on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

The first homers of the season for both came at a great time for the Astros, who are scuffling on offense this season while they await sluggers Chris Carter and Evan Gattis to get going.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

6 original Astros to help celebrate 50th anniversary of Dome

Wynn and Dierker among those who will be at Minute Maid Park on Saturday

6 original Astros to help celebrate 50th anniversary of Dome

HOUSTON -- Six members of the first team to be called the Astros, which originated 50 years ago in coordination with the opening of the Astrodome, will be at Minute Maid Park on Saturday as part of the Astros 50th Anniversary Weekend.

The members of that original 1965 Astros squad scheduled to be in attendance Saturday are Bob Aspromonte, Ron Brand, Bob Bruce, Dan Coombs, Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn. Prior to being introduced on the field as part of the pregame ceremonies, the six former players will take part in a free autograph session on the main concourse from 5-5:30 p.m CT.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Looking back on the Astrodome's Top 12 moments

Looking back on the Astrodome's Top 12 moments

The Astros will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome before their game tonight. Here's a look back at the Top 12 Astros moments at the "Eighth Wonder of the World:"

April 9, 1965: Astrodome opens when the Astros face the Yankees in an exhibition game with President Johnson and Texas Gov. John Connally in attendance.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros show resilience, but fall to Angels

Astros show resilience, but fall to Angels

HOUSTON -- Mike Trout had his first multi-homer game of the season, became the youngest player with 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases and led the Angels to a 6-3 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

The legend keeps growing.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hernandez pleased with start despite loss

Right-hander allowed three runs on just three hits over six innings

Hernandez pleased with start despite loss

HOUSTON -- For three innings, Roberto Hernandez was untouchable, going through the Angels' lineup unscathed the first time.

The right-hander had four strikeouts in his first three innings. Hernandez didn't allow a baserunner until his 45th pitch, a triple by Kole Calhoun leading off the fourth inning.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros place Peacock on DL with rib injury

Houston calls up Wojciechowski to replace right-hander in rotation

Astros place Peacock on DL with rib injury

HOUSTON -- Brad Peacock, who made his first Major League start of the season on Tuesday after having offseason right hip surgery, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a left intercostal strain (muscles between the ribs). Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to replace Peacock.

"It's frustrating because I had the surgery and I worked so hard to get back," Peacock said. "Something like this happens. It could be a lot worse. It's nothing serious, it's one of those injuries where you got to rest it and give it time."

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros look back on missed chances vs. Angels

Astros look back on missed chances vs. Angels

HOUSTON -- Despite an early Mike Trout home run, the Astros had recovered, and even battled back to tie the Angels with single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

But that was the problem for the Astros. They couldn't muster the big inning to keep pace with Trout, who later in the eighth inning, blasted his second home run of the game at Minute Maid. This time it was a three-run shot from Trout, who had five RBIs in the Angels' 6-3 win on Friday night.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wojciechowski called back up to join rotation

With Peacock out with injury, right-hander set to fill in

Wojciechowski called back up to join rotation

HOUSTON -- Asher Wojciechowski was recalled by the Astros on Friday, replacing Brad Peacock, who made his first Major League start of the season on Tuesday, but was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 15.

Peacock is out with a left intercostal strain. The injury, unrelated to Peacock's right hip surgery in October, occurred on Tuesday while Peacock was warming up to open the third inning against Oakland.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Altuve documentary screened ahead of Saturday's premiere

Altuve documentary screened ahead of Saturday's premiere

HOUSTON -- It's only fitting that the smallest player in baseball plays in a state where the phrase "Everything's Bigger" is actually a good thing.

Jose Altuve may be only 5-foot-5, but there is nothing small about where he stands in the city where he lives, in the ballpark where he plays and in the clubhouse where he leads. Altuve, as they say, is kind of a big deal around here -- and now, he has a movie to prove it.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McHugh fans 11 to lead Astros past A's

McHugh fans 11 to lead Astros past A's

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh struck out 11 batters and allowed one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, and Jed Lowrie torched his former team by hitting a homer and driving in three runs to lead the Astros to a 6-1 win over the A's on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

McHugh (2-0) struck out the side in the first inning and had two strikeouts in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, but he was pulled after throwing 102 pitches without pitching deep enough to get a quality start. Lowrie hit a two-run homer in the first inning and had an RBI double in the third to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros join all of MLB in honoring Robinson

Sipp, Carter among Houston players who appreciate what No. 42 did during his career

Astros join all of MLB in honoring Robinson

HOUSTON -- The opportunity to wear Jackie Robinson's No. 42 once a year is good enough for Astros pitcher Tony Sipp, who says wearing Robinson's number on a daily basis would bring an immense amount of pressure to live up to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.

"He handled it best," Sipp said. "Some things are better left untouched."

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.