Power play: Homers, K's lead Astros to sweep

Power play: Homers, K's lead Astros to sweep

HOUSTON -- George Springer walloped a pair of homers and Luis Valbuena homered for the third game in a row to lead the Astros to their first three-game winning streak of the season and a sweep of the Orioles with a 4-2 victory Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

"I don't really care about the three-game winning streak or getting over a hump or anything like that," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I care about playing good baseball. From my perspective, it's about showing up every day and giving yourself a chance to win, and we've done that a lot. We've done it more than our record shows. But it's good to complete them and get through the game."

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros set MLB K's record for a 3-game set

Astros set MLB K's record for a 3-game set

HOUSTON -- Despite all the great strikeout pitchers the Astros have had through the years -- J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Roger Clemens, Billy Wagner and Roy Oswalt, to name a few -- they've never had a staff achieve what it did in sweeping the Orioles.

The Astros set an MLB record by striking out 52 batters in a three-game series, capped by Thursday's 15-strikeout performance in a 4-2 win over the Orioles at Minute Maid Park that gave Houston its first three-game winning streak of the season.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Springer thriving in Astros' leadoff role

Springer thriving in Astros' leadoff role

HOUSTON -- Now that he's hitting leadoff for the Astros, outfielder George Springer said all that he's concerned with is getting on base. Of course, there's no better way to get on base than to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and Springer launched a pair of solo homers in the Astros' 4-2 win over the Orioles on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

Springer led off the first inning with a homer and added a solo shot in the sixth, giving him a team-high 11 for the season and his third career multihomer game. Since supplanting Jose Altuve in the leadoff spot in the order on Tuesday, Springer is 6-for-12.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros' Cal League affiliate explodes for 29 runs

Astros' California League affiliate accounts for seven of nine homers in game

Astros' Cal League affiliate explodes for 29 runs

There was no shortage of offense between the Class A Advanced Stockton Ports and the Lancaster Jethawks over the past three days.

The two clubs -- the California League affiliates of the Astros (JetHawks) and A's (Ports) -- combined for 43 runs over the first two games and almost matched that total in Thursday's game alone as Lancaster topped Stockton, 29-11.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marisnick shows why Hinch loves CF's 'D'

Marisnick shows why Hinch loves CF's 'D'

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said prior to Thursday's 4-2 win over the Orioles at Minute Maid Park that he wanted center fielder Jake Marisnick in the game for his defense, even though the outfielder has been struggling at the plate.

Marisnick went 1-for-3 with a double and made his biggest contribution with a pair of long running catches in the eighth inning to strand a runner at first base.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch to lobby Yost for Harris' All-Star nod

Hinch to lobby Yost for Harris' All-Star nod

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he plans to lobby for relief pitcher Will Harris to make the American League All-Star team. This is the second year in a row Hinch said he will stump for Harris, who had made 20 consecutive scoreless appearances and had a 0.42 ERA entering Thursday's series finale against the Orioles.

Since allowing a run in his first appearances of the season, Harris has gone 20 1/3 innings scoreless, marking the longest scoring-innings streak by an Astros pitcher since Alberto Arias tossed 21 1/3 innings from May 27-June 18, 2009. It's also the longest active streak in the Majors.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fiers gets call for season-series opener vs. Angels

Fiers gets call for season-series opener vs. Angels

The Angels and Astros square off for the first time in 2016 on Friday, the start of a three-game weekend series from Angel Stadium.

The Angels have won 14 of their last 19 home games against the Astros, who enter the series nine games out of first place in the American League West but riding a season-high three-game winning streak. The Angels, with 10 players on the disabled list, are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Mariners.

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Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers help Astros lock up series win vs. O's

Homers help Astros lock up series win vs. O's

HOUSTON -- The Astros got big blasts from Luis Valbuena and Evan Gattis, and capitalized on four Orioles errors, to edge Baltimore, 4-3, on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park, securing a series win in the three-game set.

Valbuena, who has homered on consecutive nights, hit a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth inning off Orioles starter Tyler Wilson's 1-1 pitch. The Astros used Wilson's error in the fourth to score a pair of runs, with Gattis going deep immediately after the miscue with a two-run shot.

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the Astros on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gattis impresses at plate, and behind it

Gattis impresses at plate, and behind it

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis always looks the part of a slugger. Even when he shaved his signature beard prior to this season, his burly figure and mammoth arms just make him look like he's built for power.

Since returning from a Minor League stint earlier this month, during which he worked on playing catcher, Gattis has shown off that power in great measure, and he did it again in Houston's 4-3 win against Baltimore on Wednesday night.

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Musgrove among top prospect performers Wednesday

Musgrove among top prospect performers Wednesday

Wednesday's slate of Minor League action saw four Top 30 prospects connect on a pair of home runs on a day where the ball seemed to be flying out of the yard across all levels.

Orioles No. 24 prospect Alex Murphy became the first of the group to accomplish the feat by going 2-for-4 with two solo shots in Class A Delmarva's afternoon loss to Greensboro. The 21-year-old catcher has already set a new career-high with five home runs this season and owns a solid .283/.358/.440 batting line in 42 games for the Shorebirds. Next up was ... 

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros' Gomez using rehab stint to refresh

Astros' Gomez using rehab stint to refresh

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- For Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, baseball was fun again. Gomez, making his second start on Minor League rehab at Double-A Corpus Christi, smacked a long home run and had three outfield assists, including two at the plate, in a 2-1 win over Arkansas on Wednesday night at Whataburger Field.

Gomez, who's on the disabled list with a bruised rib cage, homered to left field in the fifth inning and saved the game by throwing out a runner at the plate for the final out in the eighth inning. He also made a spectacular diving catch in center.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros prospect Bregman 'ready to contribute'

Astros prospect Bregman 'ready to contribute'

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Alex Bregman doesn't make many mistakes on the baseball field, so when he was picked off base in a game a few days ago in Midland, Double-A Corpus Christi manager Rodney Linares noticed Bregman sitting with his head down in the dugout.

Sure, Bregman -- the infielder who was the No. 2 overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft and the Astros' top-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com -- isn't perfect, but he wants to be. Getting picked off base was as bad as it gets for him.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa finishes O's after Astros' brilliant relief

Correa finishes O's after Astros' brilliant relief

HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa snapped an 0-for-15 slump by hitting a line-drive single to center field with the bases loaded in the 13th inning to score Tony Kemp, who had led off the inning with a triple, to send the Astros to a 3-2 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Six Astros relievers combined to hold the Orioles scoreless for 7 1/3 innings as Houston pitchers combined to strike out 19 batters, which is third most in club history. The Astros snapped a four-game losing streak.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. He writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With 16 K's, Astros relievers tie club record

Six pitchers combine for 7 1/3 scoreless innings to set up 13-inning win

With 16 K's, Astros relievers tie club record

HOUSTON -- The way the Astros' bullpen has been throwing lately, you knew Houston was well equipped to pitch deep into Tuesday's game against the Orioles. The Astros rode 7 1/3 scoreless innings -- and a franchise-tying 16 strikeouts -- from their relief corps to beat the Orioles, 3-2, in 13 innings at Minute Maid Park.

Six relievers combined to hold the Orioles to five hits and no runs, while becoming the first set of relief pitchers to strike out 16 in a game for Houston since the franchise's first month of existence -- April 25, 1962, against the Cardinals. It was the most scoreless innings by an Astros bullpen since the six-pitch no-hitter at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kemp's triple in 13th gives Astros needed jolt

Kemp's triple in 13th gives Astros needed jolt

HOUSTON -- That's the kind of spark the Astros want Tony Kemp to provide.

Kemp, the 5-foot-6 left fielder making his fourth career start, ignited a game-winning rally in the 13th inning when he led off with a triple and scored on a Carlos Correa single in the Astros' 3-2 walk-off win over the Orioles on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bregman among top prospect performers

Bregman among top prospect performers

Rhys Hoskins has hit his share of home runs this season, but none have been bigger than the walk-off grand slam he hit Tuesday to lead Double-A Reading past Erie, 11-9.

The Fightin' Phils (30-15) loaded the bases in the ninth inning on a pair of walks and a single to set the stage for Hoskins, who blasted right-hander Paul Voelker's 1-0 offering over the wall in left-center field to win the game. The home run was the Phillies' No. 19 prospect's eighth in 42 games this season. He's hitting .263 with 30 runs scored and 30 RBIs on the season.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Springer 'fry' ball takes the cake stand

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Springer 'fry' ball takes the cake stand

Major League hitters are so preposterously talented, sometimes it seems like they're just putting the ball wherever they want for the heck of it -- into the camera well, into an actual camera, even into, uh, a bathroom. It's like one long game of H-O-R-S-E, being played by the best players in the world.

To George Springer, however, all of that is amateur hour. Sure, you can hit a ball onto a balcony in center field, but that's so expected. So, during the Astros' walk-off 3-2 win over the Orioles on Tuesday, he decided to show everyone how it was done by smoking a foul ball into the left-field concourse ... and up inside the deep fryer at the funnel cake stand:

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Astros confident Keuchel will find Cy form

Astros confident Keuchel will find Cy form

HOUSTON -- Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the struggles of reigning American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is how well the rest of the Astros' rotation has been pitching lately. That gives the Astros hope that getting Keuchel ironed out will help them spark a turnaround to get back into the AL West race.

Keuchel, who went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts last year, is 2-6 with a 5.92 ERA in 10 starts in 2016. He hasn't won since April 15, going 0-5 with a 7.78 ERA in his seven starts during that stretch while allowing 59 hits and 36 earned runs in 41 2/3 innings. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Keuchel will start Saturday against the Angels in Anaheim.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rasmus ejected for arguing called 3rd strike

Rasmus ejected for arguing called 3rd strike

HOUSTON -- Astros center fielder Colby Rasmus was ejected in the sixth inning of Tuesday night's 3-2 win in 13 innings over the Orioles for arguing a called third strike.

Rasmus took a 3-2 curveball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman that was at the letters and called a strike by plate umpire Dana DeMuth. Rasmus turned to argue and was quickly thrown out of the game, and manager A.J. Hinch darted onto the field to take up the argument. The score was tied at 2 when Rasmus was ejected.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5 keys for Astros to find their groove

Straightening out Keuchel and Gomez, beating Texas imperative for Houston

5 keys for Astros to find their groove

HOUSTON -- With a three-game series against another first-place team looming -- the Orioles come to Minute Maid Park beginning Tuesday -- the Astros are still searching for answers. At 17-28, they're in last place in the American League West after getting swept by the Rangers, and they have serious questions on the mound and in the lineup.

Fortunately for the Astros, there's still time to turn their season around, but June is approaching. If they're not in contention a month from now, they could be sellers at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, which would mean conceding the playoffs. They're not ready to do that yet, but here's a look at five things that must change for Houston to get back into the mix.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel struggles as Astros lose fourth straight

Keuchel struggles as Astros lose fourth straight

HOUSTON -- Cole Hamels tied a club record by winning his 12th straight decision as the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Astros with a 9-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Hamels allowed two runs in eight innings to tie the record set by Bobby Witt in 1990. The streak stretches over 19 starts with two no-decisions, and the Rangers are 17-2 in that stretch.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. He covered the Astros on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bregman, Hernandez among top prospect performers Monday

Rangers' No. 4 prospect makes strong Double-A debut, Marlins' No. 2 has first pro multi-homer game

Bregman, Hernandez among top prospect performers Monday

Luis Ortiz, baseball's No. 69 overall prospect, made a seamless transition to Double-A as he enjoyed a stellar debut for Double-A Frisco. The Rangers' No. 4 prospect limited San Antonio to just one run in six innings, striking out six batters against one walk in the RoughRiders' lopsided 11-1 win.

Monday's outing marked the third time in his last four starts that Ortiz matched his career high mark with six innings while allowing one or no earned runs. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA through eight games (seven starts) with Frisco and Class A Advanced High Desert this year.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ensberg, Wickham to represent Astros at Draft

Ensberg, Wickham to represent Astros at Draft

Twenty-three former All-Stars. The winningest pitcher in postseason history. Three pitchers who tossed perfect games. A Most Valuable Player, a Rookie of the Year, a Hall of Fame manager and a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

They will be among team representatives on the floor at MLB Network's Studio 42 when the 2016 MLB Draft gets underway on June 9.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alumni group golfs for good cause in Houston

Former players, managers among those helping prostate cancer research nonprofit

Alumni group golfs for good cause in Houston

HOUSTON -- Several warm-weather, geographically desirable cities are designated sites for charity golf tournaments hosted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association each year. On Monday, it was Houston's turn to play host.

Nearly 60 celebrity golfers participated in the latest MLBPAA charity golf tournament at Champions Golf Club. The group included former baseball, football and basketball players, as well as radio and television personalities, many of whom live year-round in Houston and are regulars at these functions.

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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.

Keuchel's frustration continues to mount

Keuchel's frustration continues to mount

HOUSTON -- Regression is one thing, but Dallas Keuchel's 2016 season is officially beyond that.

Frustration continues to mount for the Astros' ostensible ace, whose struggles this season haven't backed up a breakout 2015 campaign that culminated with an American League Cy Young Award.

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Orbit, Rangers' Alberto stage spirited pregame battle

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Orbit, Rangers' Alberto stage spirited pregame battle

The Astros' furry green mascot Orbit is among the most consistently entertaining in the game today: He's battled his evil twin Norbittried in vain to catch Mike Trout on a fishing line and invited David Ortiz to a tea party, among other antics. 

With the Rangers in town this weekend to battle the Astros at Minute Maid Park, Orbit and Rangers infielder Hanser Alberto engaged in some spirited pregame battles. It was a prime example of the rivalry between the two AL West clubs.

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Astros take 3rd straight 2-1 loss

Astros take 3rd straight 2-1 loss

HOUSTON -- Cesar Ramos held the Astros to one run and two hits while striking out four batters in six innings and Elvis Andrus homered as the Rangers stayed unbeaten in five games against the Astros this year with a 2-1 win on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

After Ramos kept the Astros at bay with finesse, manager Jeff Banister brought in his power arms out of the bullpen -- Matt Bush, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson -- to close out the victory.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.