Astros gain in HFA race; Altuve's forearm hurt

Houston claims Silver Boot, climbs to 2 GB of AL's top spot

Astros gain in HFA race; Altuve's forearm hurt

ARLINGTON -- The Astros pushed the rival Rangers to the brink of elimination on Monday night, winning the season series between the Lone Star State rivals in the process.

The American League West-champion Astros sent 12 batters to the plate in an eight-run outburst in the fourth inning -- taking advantage of a pair of costly errors to push across seven unearned runs -- to beat the Rangers, 11-2, at Globe Life Park.

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

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington and covered the Rangers on Monday.

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

Altuve exits, day to day after HBP on forearm

Altuve exits, day to day after HBP on forearm

ARLINGTON -- The Astros avoided what could have been a devastating blow when All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve exited after getting hit on the left forearm by a 94-mph fastball from Rangers relief pitcher Jose Leclerc in the seventh inning of Monday's 11-2 win with nothing more than a bruise.

Altuve, who notched his 199th hit of the season in the first inning, was taken for X-rays, which were negative. He's listed as day to day. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he was going to take Altuve out of the game at that point had he reached a base anyway, which is why Tony Kemp was ready to pinch-run.

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

Keuchel faces Texas as Astros seek home field

Keuchel faces Texas as Astros seek home field

Two high profile left-handers meet for the middle game of the final series of the year between the Astros and Rangers on Tuesday night, when Dallas Keuchel and Cole Hamels square off at Globe Life Park.

Houston can secure home-field advantage for the American League Division Series with a victory and a Red Sox loss to the Blue Jays. The Astros, two games behind the Indians, also still have the AL's No. 1 seed in sight.

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Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Deep roster gives Hinch ALDS options

Astros manager faces decisions with bench, pitching alignment

Deep roster gives Hinch ALDS options

HOUSTON -- After battling injuries for much of the summer, the Astros look as though they will be healthy heading into the playoffs with a deep and rested roster.

Most of the club's key decisions before setting its roster for the American League Division Series are on the fringes, considering Houston's starting position players, first two spots in the rotation and the majority of its bullpen spots are set.

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

Hinch doesn't want to overthink Boston series

Astros face Red Sox for 4 games before potential ALDS matchup

Hinch doesn't want to overthink Boston series

HOUSTON -- The final week of the regular season presents some unique, but welcomed, challenges for Astros manager A.J. Hinch, whose team clinched the American League West more than a week ago and is trying to catch Cleveland for the best record in the AL.

Gear up for the postseason

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

Tucker, Whitley honored as top Minors players

Tucker, Whitley honored as top Minors players

HOUSTON -- Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley spent a few moments Sunday afternoon talking with Astros manager A.J. Hinch in the home dugout, looking more like a couple of guys who should be hanging out on the college quad than the top of prospects lists.

Tucker, the No. 7-ranked prospect overall by MLBPipeline.com and the top prospect for the Astros, and Whitley, ranked No. 36th overall and second for the Astros, were honored at Minute Maid Park on Sunday after being named the Astros' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by the team's player development department on Thursday.

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

Astros fall short in see-saw finale with Angels

Astros fall short in see-saw finale with Angels

HOUSTON -- Luis Valbuena burned his former team by hitting a two-run, bases-loaded double in the seventh inning off reliever Chris Devenski to break a tie and send the Angels to a 7-5 win over the Astros in the regular-season finale at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night.

The Angels, who snapped a six-game losing streak by sending the Astros to their third loss in their last 12 games, are 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot. Houston fell 2 1/2 games behind the Indians for the best record in the AL.

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

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Angels on Sunday.

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

Where does McCullers stand in ALDS rotation?

'I'm confident that I'm going to be ready to go,' Astros righty says

Where does McCullers stand in ALDS rotation?

HOUSTON -- The Astros got a glimpse at what Lance McCullers Jr. can do in the playoffs two years ago when he pitched well against the Royals in the American League Division Series. That's why they're making every attempt to get the 23-year-old in position to compete in this year's ALDS.

McCullers, pitching for the first time in 18 days and only second time since July 30, gave up two runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings before being pulled after throwing only 63 pitches in Sunday's 7-5 loss to the Angels, which was near his predetermined pitch count. Most important for McCullers is that he said he felt great after being scratched from his previous start with arm fatigue Sept. 13.

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

Hinch supports players' rights to protest

'Players around our league are socially aware and they care a lot,' Astros manager says

Hinch supports players' rights to protest

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said prior to Sunday's regular-season home finale at Minute Maid Park that his players are well aware of the protests being staged in the NFL and by A's rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell during the national anthem and that he supports his players' rights to do the same.

"Obviously, sports brings a lot of things to the forefront of people," Hinch said. "I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud to have the rights we have. I know who's fought for those rights and I know they're very meaningful to everybody in our clubhouse and around our sport. The other issues are all very personal for everybody, and I wish everybody would respect the right that we can all have the same rights but yet disagree and work towards a common goal and a better world.

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

Morton makes strong case for ALDS rotation

Astros righty efficiently dominates Angels with 7 innings of 1-run ball on 81 pitches

Morton makes strong case for ALDS rotation

HOUSTON -- The status of the Astros' American League Division Series rotation behind Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel remains up in the air heading into the regular season's final week. But veteran right-hander Charlie Morton continues to make quite a case for inclusion.

Morton was strong and remarkably efficient in seven innings vs. the Angels on Saturday, allowing just one run on four hits and just 81 pitches in a 6-2 Houston victory that kept the Astros in the hunt for the best record in the AL.

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

Before they were postseason bound: Astros

Before they were postseason bound: Astros

The Astros are headed to the postseason as division champions for the first time since 2001. Here's the skinny on the origins of every player wearing the H-Star.

Jose Altuve, 2B
Born: Maracay, Venezuela
DOB: 5/6/1990
Minors: Greeneville (Rookie), Tri-City (A-), Lexington (A), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA)
• Altuve is the first player to represent the same team in the All-Star Game in different leagues. His first appearance at the Midsummer Classic came in the Astros' final National League season in 2012. He represented the Astros on the American League All-Star team from 2014-17, and has been voted in as a starter in each of the last three years.

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

Astros' 95th win sends Angels to 6th straight L

Astros' 95th win sends Angels to 6th straight L

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis delivered the big blast, Carlos Correa reached base four times and Marwin Gonzalez added three hits -- two doubles -- to back up Charlie Morton's efficient pitching in the Astros' 6-2 win Saturday at Minute Maid Park, sending the Angels to their sixth straight loss.

The Angels fell 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot, while the Astros remained 1 1/2 games behind the Indians for the AL's best record.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Angels on Saturday.

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Astros on Saturday.

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

Verlander nearly unhittable since joining Astros

Righty is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA with Houston, has allowed five hits in last three starts

Verlander nearly unhittable since joining Astros

HOUSTON -- Justin Verlander has been brilliant since joining the Astros, and he continued his stellar form Friday in Houston's 3-0 win over the division-rival Angels at Minute Maid Park.

Acquired from the Tigers in a blockbuster Aug. 31 trade, the 34-year-old power right-hander has dominated with the Astros, going 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA in four starts. In Friday's series opener, Verlander shut out the Angels over seven strong innings while allowing just one hit and striking out six. He has allowed just five hits in his last three starts (22 innings).

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

Beltran donates $1M to Hurricane Maria relief

Beltran donates $1M to Hurricane Maria relief

Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran became the latest Major Leaguer to commit to hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean, launching a fundraising campaign for his native Puerto Rico. Beltran and his wife, Jessica, spearheaded the effort with their own $1 million donation to help those affected by the storm.

"Right now, our country is suffering from devastating hurricanes. Not only one, but two in a row. I just want to help as much as I can," said Beltran, after the Astros' 3-0 win against the Angels on Friday night. "I just felt in my heart that it was something that needed to be done."

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

Astros blank Halos behind strong JV, Yuli's HR

Astros blank Halos behind strong JV, Yuli's HR

HOUSTON -- Yuli Gurriel broke up a scoreless game with a three-run home run in the seventh inning, and Justin Verlander and two relievers combined on a shutout in the Astros' 3-0 win Friday night at Minute Maid Park, sending the Angels to their fifth straight loss and 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"It feels good," Verlander said. "It's nice to be pitching well, but the playoffs are right around the corner. We're still fighting for the best record, so it's nice to have an impact that way, it's nice to get wins and it's nice to pitch well. But I think we're all getting ready for the next level."

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Angels on Friday.

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Astros on Friday.

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

McCann sets record as 8th Astro with 15 HRs

Houston's balanced attack also features 9 players with 50-plus RBIs

McCann sets record as 8th Astro with 15 HRs

HOUSTON -- On a night the Astros' vaunted offense was all but shut down, a homer by catcher Brian McCann in the third inning of Thursday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox at Minute Maid Park was a reminder of Houston's lineup mix of balance and power.

McCann became the eighth Astros player to reach at least 15 homers this season -- a franchise record -- when he took reliever Chris Volstad deep in the third inning for the Astros' final hit of the game. It was No. 260 of McCann's career, and first in the No. 9 spot in the order.

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

Astros fall 2 1/2 back in race for AL's top mark

Astros fall 2 1/2 back in race for AL's top mark

HOUSTON -- The White Sox pushed across runs on a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and a bases-loaded double play in the third, and seven relievers stifled the Astros' offense to lead the White Sox to a 3-1 win Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros, who saw their six-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 2 1/2 games behind the Indians in their hunt for the best record in the American League. Houston's nine-game home winning streak was also halted.

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

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the White Sox on Thursday.

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

Tucker, Whitley Astros' top Minor Leaguers

Club's Nos. 1 and 2 prospects will be recognized Sunday

Tucker, Whitley Astros' top Minor Leaguers

HOUSTON -- Outfielder Kyle Tucker and right-hander Forrest Whitley were named the Astros' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by the team's player development department Thursday. They will be recognized in a ceremony before Sunday's home regular-season finale against the Angels.

Tucker batted .274 with 70 runs, 33 doubles, five triples, 25 homers, 90 RBIs, 21 steals and an .874 OPS in 120 games between Double-A Corpus Christi and Class A Buies Creek. Despite being one of the youngest position players in both the Carolina League and Texas League at 20, Tucker was one of just 10 players in all of the Minor Leagues to record at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

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

Peacock wins 12th in Astros' 6th straight W

Peacock wins 12th in Astros' 6th straight W

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch has been pumping up Brad Peacock as a legitimate option for the team's rotation in the postseason, and the right-hander delivered the biggest statement in his favor Wednesday night.

Peacock won his 12th game of the season -- surpassing his Major League total of 11 wins entering this season -- by firing six innings of one-hit ball to lead the American League West-champion Astros to their sixth consecutive win, 4-3, over the White Sox at Minute Maid Park. The win kept Houston 1 1/2 games behind the Indians for the best record in the AL.

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

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the White Sox on Wednesday.

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

Gurriel gives Astros' lineup potent depth

Yuli sets Houston's rookie record with 57th extra-base hit

Gurriel gives Astros' lineup potent depth

HOUSTON -- There is no time for pitchers to catch their breath when facing an Astros lineup that has All-Stars George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa near the top, along with Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who are having the best seasons of their careers.

When the Astros are healthy, things don't let up at the bottom, either, with guys like Yuli Gurriel lingering. The 33-year-old rookie, batting in the seventh spot Wednesday night, went 3-for-4 with a two-run double in the Astros' 4-3 win over the White Sox 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa's thoughts with family in Puerto Rico

Beltran, Centeno also among Astros players concerned for loved ones

Correa's thoughts with family in Puerto Rico

HOUSTON -- Several Astros players and staff members were keeping tabs throughout Wednesday on their friends and family members in Puerto Rico, which suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. According to news reports, the island was without power and there was lots of flooding and extensive damage.

Shortstop Carlos Correa, who in 2012 became the first Puerto Rican player taken No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft, said he spoke with one of his grandmothers at 9 a.m. CT, but he hadn't had any contact the rest of the day. Carlos Beltran and Juan Centeno were also keepings tabs on the situation, along with bench coach Alex Cora and Alex Cintron, the team's Spanish-language interpreter who's serving as an extra coach in uniform this month.

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

Astros' bullpen hitting stride at perfect time

Astros' bullpen hitting stride at perfect time

HOUSTON -- Perhaps the Astros' bullpen is starting to hit its stride when it matters the most. Four relievers -- Will Harris, Chris Devenski, Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles -- combined to strike out nine and allow one hit in four scoreless innings behind starter Collin McHugh in the Astros' 3-1 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The bullpen, which entered Tuesday with an MLB-worst 7.66 ERA in September, will be a key part of the Astros' success in the postseason. Houston clinched the American League West on Sunday and is aiming for the best record in the AL.

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

Altuve earns Lou Gehrig Memorial Award

Altuve earns Lou Gehrig Memorial Award

HOUSTON -- Astros All-star second baseman Jose Altuve was presented with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award prior to Tuesday's game against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park.

The award, sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, headquartered in Oxford, Ohio, is presented annually to a Major League player who best exemplifies the giving character of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, a member of the Fraternity's Columbia University chapter.

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

Icing on cake: Springer comes up big on b-day

Icing on cake: Springer comes up big on b-day

Before he was blowing out candles for his 28th birthday on Tuesday, George Springer was blowing by a throw at the plate in a critical eighth inning in an eventual 3-1 Astros win, the club's fifth straight.

Initially ruled out, the play was overturned to give Springer the score, after he surged home on an infield dribbler by Jose Altuve to White Sox third baseman Yolmer Sanchez. Holding almost patiently at third while Sanchez made the commitment to first, Springer had just a 10.8-foot secondary lead, according to Statcast™, and needed 5.76 seconds to get home, with a sprint speed of 27.8 feet per second.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Moran rejoins Astros for end of regular season

Infielder back in bigs after scary injury and Minors rehab assignment

Moran rejoins Astros for end of regular season

HOUSTON -- Infielder Colin Moran, who sustained facial fractures and had to undergo surgery after he fouled a ball off his face on July 22 in Baltimore, returned to the Astros prior to Tuesday's 3-1 win after finishing his rehab assignment at Class A Quad Cities.

"I'm really thankful for the doctors here in Houston and the surgeons that performed on me," Moran said. "I just have to thank God for the quick recovery."

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

Astros win 5th straight thanks to arms, Altuve

Astros win 5th straight thanks to arms, Altuve

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh won his third consecutive decision and combined with four relievers to handcuff the White Sox and send the American League West-champion Astros to their fifth win a row, 3-1, in Tuesday night's series opener at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (92-58), who clinched their first AL West title on Sunday, began play on Tuesday 1 1/2 games behind the Indians -- who defeated the Angels late on Tuesday -- for the best record in the AL. The Astros have won eight in a row at home and are 34 games over .500, tying their high-water mark 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.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the White Sox on Tuesday.

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