Keuchel, Altuve win monthly, weekly honors

Lefty top pitcher in AL for April; second baseman AL co-Player of the Week

Keuchel, Altuve win monthly, weekly honors

HOUSTON -- The Astros' terrific start has led to some hardware for starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and second baseman Jose Altuve, who were on Monday named the American League Pitcher of the Month and AL co-Player of the Week, respectively.

Keuchel, who started Monday's game against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park, is the first Astros pitcher to win the award since Wandy Rodriguez was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in July 2009. Keuchel went 3-0 in five starts in April, posting a 0.73 ERA and 22 strikeouts while allowing just 27 baserunners (16 hits, 11 walks) in 37 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.

Hinch has been in same position as Counsell

Astros skipper had no coaching experience when hired to manage D-backs in 2009

Hinch has been in same position as Counsell

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch was somewhat of a trailblazer when he was hired to manage the D-backs in 2009 despite not having any previous managerial or Major League coaching experience. Hinch lasted only parts of two seasons in Arizona, but six years later he's managing the hottest team in baseball.

After the Brewers tabbed Craig Counsell to be their manager on Monday, there are several teams who have managers who previously had no managerial or Major League coaching experience, including Brad Ausmus (Tigers), Robin Ventura (White Sox), Mike Matheny (Cardinals) and Walt Weiss (Rockies).

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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 win 10 straight for first time since '04

Astros win 10 straight for first time since '04

HOUSTON -- Designated hitter Evan Gattis clobbered two home runs Sunday afternoon, including a tiebreaking shot into the Crawford Boxes in the eighth inning, to send the Astros to their 10th consecutive win, 7-6, and complete a four-game sweep of the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.

"It's been the most fun personally I've ever had on a team, and I think we might have something special," Gattis said.

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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.

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

Mother's Day is Sunday, and for Melissa Rupert of Liberty Township, Ohio, it will be the first one to celebrate as the mother of a baby boy named Noah.

"He's my entire world," Rupert said. "Every day, I hold my baby boy as tightly as he'll let me and remind myself that he is my rock and my joy, and I barely think about ... breast cancer."

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Astros starting to believe they're for real

Red-hot AL West leaders have components in place to contend for long haul

Astros starting to believe they're for real

HOUSTON -- At the moment, there's some magic around these Astros. Isn't that the bottom line? They might see it differently. To them, a little 10-game winning streak is the byproduct of blue-collar stuff.

"Everybody's playing their heart out," first baseman Chris Carter 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.

Aided by replay, Springer fires home for DP

Aided by replay, Springer fires home for DP

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch successfully challenged a call at the plate in the third inning Sunday, taking away a run for the Mariners. That run would loom large, as Houston ended up with a 7-6 victory thanks to Evan Gattis' second home run.

Mariners shortstop Brad Miller tried to score from third base on a fly ball to right field by Seth Smith, and he was initially called safe after sliding past the tag of Astros catcher Jason Castro following a throw from right fielder George Springer.

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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.

After slow start, Gattis displaying his power

Slugger rips two HRs, including game-winner, in Astros' 10th straight victory

After slow start, Gattis displaying his power

HOUSTON -- Fans in the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park might want to start wearing protective armor when Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis is at the plate.

Gattis rocketed a pair of home runs into the left-field seats, including a line-drive shot in the eighth inning to snap a tie, and drove in four Sunday to lead the Astros to their 10th consecutive win, 7-6, in a four-game sweep of the Mariners.

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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 keep winning despite pair of errors

Hinch able to shrug off miscues by defensively sound infeld

Astros keep winning despite pair of errors

HOUSTON -- The Astros had one of their shakiest games defensively Sunday at Minute Maid Park, but overcame a pair of errors on the infield to rally to beat the Mariners, 7-6, for their 10th consecutive win.

In addition to their stellar pitching and their power-driven offense, the Astros have played well defensively. Perhaps that's why manager A.J. Hinch was able to shrug off Sunday's costly miscues.

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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 cruise to 9th straight win behind 5 HRs

Astros cruise to 9th straight win behind 5 HRs

HOUSTON -- Not even two more blasts by Nelson Cruz on the Mariners' four-homer night could sidetrack the soaring Astros on Saturday, as Houston roared from behind at Minute Maid Park for an 11-4 victory, the ninth straight win for the American League West leaders.

The Astros' 17-7 record matches their best 24-game start in franchise history -- also done in 1980 -- and the winning streak is their longest since 2006. Collin McHugh spotted Seattle a 3-0 lead as Cruz, Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino launched solo shots in the second, but the Astros responded with five homers of their own and rolled to their 13th win in the past 14 games.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marisnick races up Tal's Hill for amazing grab

Astros' center fielder robs Mariners' Morrison with inning-ending catch

Marisnick races up Tal's Hill for amazing grab

HOUSTON -- On a night when nine home runs flew out of Minute Maid Park, Jake Marisnick left an indelible impression with his glove.

The Astros' center fielder climbed the funky Tal's Hill that occupies the final 25 feet or so before the center-field wall in Houston, absolutely robbing Logan Morrison of an RBI extra-base hit to end the top of the sixth inning Saturday.

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

Astros go back-to-back twice in 5-HR party

Gattis, Rasmus go deep in third; Altuve, Valbuena follow suit in fourth

Astros go back-to-back twice in 5-HR party

HOUSTON -- After watching the Mariners blast three solo home runs in the second inning, including two in back-to-back fashion, the Astros managed to one-up them Saturday night in an 11-4 victory at Minute Maid Park.

"They post that inning and someone in our dugout says, 'Hey, we've still got 24 outs left,'" Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. They didn't need that many.

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

Deduno to get second turn in Astros' rotation

Club looking to build right-hander's pitch count after his 4-inning spot start

Deduno to get second turn in Astros' rotation

HOUSTON -- Samuel Deduno will get his wish.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced the long reliever-turned-spot starter will start Wednesday against Texas on the heels of a strong four-inning outing Friday in a 4-3 win over the Mariners. Following that game, Deduno expressed a desire to further prove his credentials for Houston's unstable fifth spot in the rotation. Now, he'll get his chance.

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

Jake Marisnick pulls in one of the grabs of the year

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Jake Marisnick pulls in one of the grabs of the year

It may look awfully cool, but since Minute Maid Park first opened in 2000, Tal's Hill out in center field has claimed its fair share of outfielders who dare chase fly balls up the slope. Houston center fielder Jake Marisnick, though, cares nothing for your cruel ballpark design:

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Tucker headlines monthly Minor League awards

Outfielder named top Triple-A player in April; Correa claims Double-A honor

Tucker headlines monthly Minor League awards

HOUSTON -- It's a good time to be an Astro, and that extends beyond the first-place big league squad to every corner of the organization.

Entering Saturday, Triple-A Fresno is the only team in the entire Houston organization that doesn't lead its division, and the Grizzlies are only a game back of first place. That means the franchise's April Minor League Players of the Month, which the Astros announced Saturday, are some of the most accomplished at each level.

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

Astros hit three homers to win eighth straight

Astros hit three homers to win eighth straight

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis, Jake Marisnick and George Springer hit home runs and Samuel Deduno delivered an effective spot start on Friday as the Astros beat the Mariners, 4-3, for their eighth straight win.

Gattis continues to warm up after a slow start, hitting his third homer, a two-run shot in the first off Seattle southpaw Roenis Elias. Marisnick added a solo shot in the second in support of Deduno, who threw four innings of one-run ball in his first start of the year before turning things over to the Astros' much-improved bullpen.

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Altuve's 9th straight multi-hit game ties record

Second baseman joins Astros Hatcher, Alou in impressive feat

Altuve's 9th straight multi-hit game ties record

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve keeps finding his way into the Astros' record books.

The second baseman recorded two more hits in Friday night's 4-3 win against Seattle, giving him nine consecutive multi-hit games, tying the franchise record.

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

Astros prospect Moran fractures jaw

Astros prospect Moran fractures jaw

HOUSTON -- Even with a walk-off win at the big league level, the Astros organization got some dour news Thursday night when touted third baseman Colin Moran suffered a non-displaced fracture in his jaw at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Moran, the Astros' No. 6 prospect and a cornerstone of Houston's future infield plans, was sliding back into second base during the top of the first and an errant throw struck him in the neck area. He was immediately removed from the game.

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

ASG debate: Altuve deserves to take torch from Cano

ASG debate: Altuve deserves to take torch from Cano

We will be doing daily ASG debates until balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other good candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think!

Robinson Cano has been the American League All-Star starter at second base for five straight seasons.

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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.

Deduno, bullpen piece together Astros win

Fields stands out, recording all four of his outs via the strikeout

Deduno, bullpen piece together Astros win

HOUSTON -- When the Astros revamped a maligned bullpen this offseason, they probably had a game like this in mind.

With spot starter Samuel Deduno limited to four innings, it was the relatively rare sight of bullpen-by-committee that lifted a home-run heavy offense to a 4-3 win Friday night, the Astros eighth in a row.

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

Astros celebrate by throwing entire dugout at Altuve

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Astros celebrate by throwing entire dugout at Altuve

Don't look now, but the Astros have won 11 of their last 12 games and catapulted into first place in the AL West, thanks in large part to Jose Altuve. 

The Astros second baseman has enjoyed eight straight multi-hit games and helped his team immensely with a three-hit showing on Thursday. He capped it all off with a walk-off knock in extra innings: 

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Astros option Hoes, call up Chapman

Astros option Hoes, call up Chapman

HOUSTON -- The Astros called up lefty reliever Kevin Chapman and optioned outfielder L.J. Hoes to Triple-A Fresno following Thursday's 3-2 win over Seattle.

Manager A.J. Hinch attributed the move to "bullpen depth," since long reliever Samuel Deduno will get the start in Friday's contest as the fifth spot in the Houston rotation remains a fickle one.

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

Altuve's walk-off in 10th extends win streak

Altuve's walk-off in 10th extends win streak

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve singled in Marwin Gonzalez with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning on Thursday as the surprising Astros beat the Mariners, 3-2, recording their seventh straight win with a walk-off at Minute Maid Park that hiked their American League West-leading record to 15-7.

"There's an energy about this team when the game's on the line … it's just locked in," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "We had the right guy up at the end. Just a big win at home tonight, with a walk-off like that, I'm not sure you could script it much better."

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Altuve sets tone with first walk-off of career

Astros star extends streak of multihit games to eight

Altuve sets tone with first walk-off of career

HOUSTON -- You could say it was just old hat for Jose Altuve by now, what with his eighth multihit game in a row.

But a walk-off hit signaled new territory, even for the reigning American League batting champ. With a one-out single off the left-field wall in the 10th inning that gave Houston an emotional 3-2 win, Altuve keeps expanding his collection of accomplishments. The walk-off knock was the first of his career.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Astros playing confident, exciting baseball

Astros playing confident, exciting baseball

One of the coolest things about this young baseball season is seeing how much fun the Houston Astros are having. They're not just playing winning baseball, they're playing exciting baseball. That's important, too, because that builds confidence and excites fans.

The Astros hit home runs and steal bases. They've got two of the best starting pitchers in the game and a lockdown bullpen. Defensively, few teams are better.

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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.

Lowrie to undergo surgery on right thumb

Astros shortstop will have torn ligament repaired Friday

Lowrie to undergo surgery on right thumb

HOUSTON -- The Astros confirmed before Thursday's game that injured shortstop Jed Lowrie will have surgery Friday in Houston to repair the torn ligament in his right thumb.

Other than that, the team was light on details, deferring to Lowrie's preference to wait until after the procedure, which will sideline the veteran until July.

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

Altuve seeking third trip to Midsummer Classic

Altuve seeking third trip to Midsummer Classic

SAN DIEGO -- Former Astros All-Stars Jose Altuve and Jason Castro are back on the ballot for this year's All-Star Game, which will be held July 14 in Cincinnati.

Joining second baseman Altuve, a two-time All-Star (2012 in the National League, '14 in the American League), and catcher Castro ('13 All-Star) on the ballot are first baseman Chris Carter, shortstop Jed Lowrie, who is out of action due to a right thumb injury, third baseman Luis Valbuena, designated hitter Evan Gattis and outfielders Jake Marisnick, Colby Rasmus and George Springer.

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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.