Astros using caution with Marisnick's return

Astros using caution with Marisnick's return

OAKLAND -- Houston manager A.J. Hinch continues to take a cautious approach to outfielder Jake Marisnick and his sore right leg, which kept him out of Friday night's series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

Marisnick, who has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 games, appears to be healthy and could be used if needed. Hinch wants to give him at least one more day.

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

Keuchel lowers ERA to 0.62 despite 'spotty' command

Not pleased about two walks, posts 9 scoreless

Keuchel lowers ERA to 0.62 despite 'spotty' command

OAKLAND -- Astros southpaw Dallas Keuchel might have started off Friday's wild 5-4 extra-inning win over the A's with nine scoreless innings, but he couldn't get his mind off of the two walks he issued.

Keuchel has developed a reputation of being something of a perfectionist on the mound, and he offered a glimpse of his high standards after the contest.

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

Astros hold off A's in 11 for crazy finish

Astros hold off A's in 11 for crazy finish

OAKLAND -- Left fielder Robbie Grossman notched a go-ahead, two-run single off of A's southpaw Eric O'Flaherty in a three-run 11th inning, helping the Astros claim a 5-4 series-opening victory at the Coliseum on Friday evening.

It was a wild ending to a game that didn't see its first run until the 10th inning, when Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run, two-out double off of A's reliever Dan Otero. The A's came right back in the bottom of the frame against a familiar face in right-hander Luke Gregerson, getting a game-tying, two-run double from Josh Reddick, who unsuccessfully tried racing home when the ball got away from the plate.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fields back in the bullpen mix for Astros

Right-hander joins dominant relief corps

Fields back in the bullpen mix for Astros

OAKLAND -- Reliever Josh Fields joined the Astros on Friday after recovering from a strained groin he sustained near the end of Spring Training. In a corresponding move, which was announced by the team Wednesday night, Houston optioned infielder Jonathan Villar to Triple-A Fresno.

Fields, who posted a 4.45 ERA in 54 2/3 innings for the Astros last season, allowed two runs in six innings of rehab work with Fresno. The right-hander threw 36 pitches while recording two scoreless innings on Monday in his final outing with the Grizzlies. It was a lengthy rehab assignment that lasted 10 days, but Fields said he's happy to be back with the big league club.

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

Astros' youth baseball initiatives go beyond the field

Urban Youth Academy, RBI program offer free instruction

Astros' youth baseball initiatives go beyond the field

HOUSTON -- The Astros have long had a commitment to youth baseball in the Houston area, something that's even blossomed in recent years with the opening of the Houston Astros Urban Youth Academy on the city's north side.

In addition to the Urban Youth Academy, Astros RBI is a free baseball and softball program funded by the Astros Foundation. What's more, the Astros Community Leaders program has renovated 18 youth fields in seven parks around the area in the past couple of years.

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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.

Hernandez puts up 'good effort,' but walk proves costly

Astros starter falls to 0-4 in last 6 starts vs. Seattle

Hernandez puts up 'good effort,' but walk proves costly

SEATTLE -- Astros starter Roberto Hernandez couldn't help but lament his two-out walk to Logan Morrison in the fourth inning Wednesday night.

Hernandez (0-2) had retired nine-of-10 batters, allowing a solo homer to Mike Zunino in the third, when an inning later he walked Morrison, who advanced to third on a Dustin Ackley single and scored on a Brad Miller single in the Mariners' 3-2 win over the Astros at Safeco Field.

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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.

Carter's first homer of season gives Astros hope

Carter's first homer of season gives Astros hope

SEATTLE -- Chris Carter came through with his first home run of the season in the seventh inning Wednesday night in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Carter's homer off J.A. Happ came on the same date and in the same ballpark as his first home run a year ago, setting the stage for his 37-homer season that ranked second in the Majors. He has 12 career home runs against Seattle, his second most against any team.

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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.

Hernandez takes tough loss as M's snap Astros' win streak

Hernandez takes tough loss as M's snap Astros' win streak

SEATTLE -- Veteran southpaw J.A. Happ picked up his first victory for the Mariners with 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball as Seattle snapped the Astros' four-game winning streak with a 3-2 win on Wednesday at Safeco Field.

Happ has been strong in three outings as Seattle's fifth starter and finally got rewarded as he evened his record at 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA by scattering eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

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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 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.

Harris proving to be valuable addition to bullpen

Houston claimed righty off waivers Nov. 3 from D-backs

Harris proving to be valuable addition to bullpen

SEATTLE -- Much was made in the offseason about the big-ticket additions to the Astros bullpen by signing Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Joe Thatcher -- moves that have paid dividends considering the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball so far.

But the first move came when the Astros claimed right-hander Will Harris off waivers Nov. 3 from the D-backs. He came to spring camp as a long shot to make the team, but an injury to Josh Fields gave Harris an opportunity that he's taken advantage of. He has been scoreless in his first five appearances with the Astros and 21 in a row since last season.

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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.

Altuve's double caps rally as McHugh wins 10th straight

Altuve's double caps rally as McHugh wins 10th straight

SEATTLE -- Collin McHugh racked up his 10th straight victory for the Astros as Houston rallied for a 6-3 win over the Mariners on Tuesday night to remain in first place in the early American League West race.

McHugh allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings to improve to 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA on the season and 10-0 since his last loss in July of last season. The Astros (8-6) overcame a 3-1 deficit with five runs in the eighth, capped by Jose Altuve's three-run double. The first run was unearned after an error on Robinson Cano opened the inning.

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

Altuve finds redemption with bases loaded

Astros finally find a way to get clutch hits in eighth-inning rally

Altuve finds redemption with bases loaded

SEATTLE -- With one clutch swing of the bat Tuesday night, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve washed away two weeks' worth of frustration with the bases loaded.

After Jake Marisnick tied the game with a single in the eighth inning that was the Astros' first hit of the year with the bases loaded, Altuve followed with a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner to lead the Astros past the Mariners, 6-3, at Safeco Field.

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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 had to battle to keep streak alive

Astros pitcher wins 10th straight, despite not having best stuff

McHugh had to battle to keep streak alive

SEATTLE -- He wasn't nearly as dominant as he was a year ago when he struck out 12 batters in 6 2/3 innings at Safeco Field in the game that changed his career, but Astros starter Collin McHugh battled through seven innings for his 10th consecutive win Tuesday night.

McHugh improved to 3-0 by holding the Mariners to three runs and seven hits in seven innings in the Astros' 6-3 come-from-behind win at Safeco Field. McHugh's 10-game win streak, which dates to last season, is the longest by an Astros pitcher since Wade Miller won a franchise-record 12 in a row in 2002.

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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.

Fields nears return, but Astros keep plan close to vest

Reliever recovering from strained groin at Triple-A Fresno

Fields nears return, but Astros keep plan close to vest

SEATTLE -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch admitted there's nothing really left for relief pitcher Josh Fields to show the club on his rehab stint at Triple-A Fresno, which indicates the right-hander could be activated as soon as this weekend in Oakland.

Fields, who strained his groin near the end of Spring Training, has made five rehab appearances at Fresno, including two scoreless innings Monday night. He threw in back-to-back games last week. Hinch texted Fields on Tuesday to see how he was doing.

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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'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.

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.