Near-cycle built for two: Altuve, Correa 3B shy

Near-cycle built for two: Altuve, Correa 3B shy

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve, Jason Castro and Carlos Correa each homered, with Altuve and Correa adding a single and a double, to lead the Astros to consecutive wins for the first time this season in a 16-4 rout of the Twins on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Altuve (3-for-5) led off the game with his eighth homer to spark a three-run first inning, and it was 6-0 when Brian Dozier of the Twins hit a three-run homer in the third off Houston starter Mike Fiers to cut the lead in half. The red-hot Castro (2-for-3) homered in the third to make it 8-3, and the Astros sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth and scored five times to take a 14-4 lead.

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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.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

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

Astros' offense erupts in rout of Twins

Astros' offense erupts in rout of Twins

HOUSTON -- For the fifth time this season, All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve led off a game with a home run. But that was only the start of the fun for the Astros.

The Astros got the offensive outburst manager A.J. Hinch has been waiting for, erupting for a season high in runs scored and hits in a 16-4 win over the Twins on Wednesday night that was an example of the lineup's quick-strike potential.

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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 option Feliz, call up Marisnick

Astros option Feliz, call up Marisnick

HOUSTON -- The Astros optioned right-hander Michael Feliz to Triple-A Fresno following Wednesday's 16-4 rout of the Twins and called up outfielder Jake Marisnick, who will start in left field in Thursday's series opener against the Mariners.

Marisnick was sent down on April 24 to make room for Feliz when the Astros decided they needed another pitcher. Marisnick went 1-for-10 in 12 games before being sent to Fresno, where he hit .185 in seven games.

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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.

Giles taking steps forward in new bullpen role

Giles taking steps forward in new bullpen role

HOUSTON -- For the first time this season, reliever Ken Giles has two consecutive scoreless, hitless outings under his belt. Giles, who last weekend was moved into a lower-pressure role in the bullpen, threw a scoreless inning on Monday and came back on Tuesday to retire the only batter he faced to finish the sixth inning.

"Ken's been great the last two games," manager A.J. Hinch said. "For him to end his outings as positive as that, he's very focused on some of the adjustments he's making with his mechanics, his pitch selection, the shape of his pitches -- all good signs for him. He's a good pitcher and gone through the toughest stretch of his Major League career, and he'll come out of it in fine fashion, and he's proven that the last two outings. I have no concerns about Ken being a positive contributor."

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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 riding out his players' slumps

Hinch riding out his players' slumps

HOUSTON -- With the exception of second baseman Jose Altuve and right fielder George Springer, the Astros have been a lineup of streaks so far this season. First baseman Tyler White, shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Colby Rasmus started hot but have cooled, while catcher Jason Castro and outfielder Carlos Gomez are on the move.

Manager A.J. Hinch is carrying only 12 position players, including a backup catcher, so he's going to have to ride the cold players. Entering Wednesday, third baseman Luis Valbuena (0-for-17), White (0-for-13), designated hitter Evan Gattis (0-for-12) and Rasmus (0-for-11) were in prolonged slumps.

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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 look to slow first-place M's in Houston

Astros look to slow first-place M's in Houston

A Mariners team riding six straight series victories opens a four-game set at Minute Maid Park on Thursday with Wade Miley facing Astros rookie Chris Devenski.

The Mariners took two of three from the Astros last week at Safeco Field in the middle of a run that has seen them move into the American League West lead, while Houston has struggled at the bottom of the division pack in a disappointing start.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros ride two big blasts to win over Twins

Astros ride two big blasts to win over Twins

HOUSTON -- George Springer homered for the second game in a row, hitting a two-run shot over the railroad tracks high above Minute Maid Park's left field to cap a three-run fourth inning and send the Astros to a 6-4 win over the Twins on Tuesday night.

Springer's sixth homer of the season gave the Astros a 6-2 lead, and four relievers were flawless after starter Collin McHugh (3-3) allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Jason Castro also homered for the Astros, and Carlos Gomez doubled twice after missing the previous three games.

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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.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

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

Gomez more than makes up for lost time

Gomez more than makes up for lost time

HOUSTON -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez returned to the lineup on Tuesday night after missing three games, and he also returned to being Carlos Gomez.

Gomez, who had been out since injuring his rib cage diving for a ball on Friday in Oakland, doubled in his first two at-bats and finished 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Astros' 6-4 win over the Twins at Minute Maid Park. He also got credit for an outfield assist when Miguel Sano popped off the base trying to stretch a single to a double in the sixth inning and was tagged out.

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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' bullpen hitting its stride

Astros' bullpen hitting its stride

HOUSTON -- The Astros' bullpen, which was one of the team's biggest strengths last season, is finally finding its stride. Four relievers combined to hold the Twins hitless for 3 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 6-2 win, with closer Luke Gregerson converting his sixth save in as many chances.

Houston's bullpen has allowed two hits and one run in 13 1/3 innings in the team's last four games. In that span, relievers have struck out 13 batters and walked none.

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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.

McCullers may join Astros in Boston

McCullers may join Astros in Boston

HOUSTON -- Right-hander Lance McCullers could rejoin the Astros' rotation sooner rather than later.

McCullers, who's scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Fresno at El Paso on Saturday, could return during next week's road series in Boston, manager A.J. Hinch said. McCullers threw 62 pitches on Monday at extended spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., hitting 92-97 mph, and will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday before heading to west Texas.

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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.

Watch: Springer shows off stadium-clearing power

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Watch: Springer shows off stadium-clearing power

Already up 4-2 in the fourth inning of their game against the Twins on Tuesday, the Astros were looking for some insurance runs with George Springer at the plate. Maybe a single to drive in the runner at third. Perhaps even a sacrifice fly or a hard ground ball to the right side of the infield. Instead, Springer decided to hit the baseball over the train tracks and clear out of Minute Maid Park.

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Keuchel's string of Minute Maid wins snapped

Keuchel's string of Minute Maid wins snapped

HOUSTON -- During a season in which plenty has gone wrong through the first five weeks, not even Dallas Keuchel's remarkable stretch of success at home was immune to misfortune.

Keuchel's 17-game winning streak at Minute Maid Park came to an end in Monday night's 6-2 loss to the Twins after the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner allowed five runs, seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings to fall to 2-4.

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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 homer twice in rare home 'L' for Keuchel

Astros homer twice in rare home 'L' for Keuchel

HOUSTON -- Astros ace Dallas Keuchel suffered his first defeat at Minute Maid Park in a span of 23 regular-season starts on Monday night, allowing five runs, five walks and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss to the Twins in the series opener. The Astros have yet to win consecutive games.

Twins starter Jose Berrios, making the second start of his career, held the Astros to three hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings for his first Major League win. The only runs he allowed came on solo homers by Preston Tucker in the second and George Springer in the fifth. He pitched around five walks and struck out eight.

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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.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

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

Musgrove among top prospect performers Monday

Rangers' No. 21 prospect grabs Minor League homer lead, No. 14 hurls five one-hit frames

Musgrove among top prospect performers Monday

Class A Advanced High Desert has been rolling of late, winning 13 of its last 15 games to move into first place atop the California League South division with a 19-6 overall record.

Left-hander Yohander Mendez (Rangers' No. 14 prospect) and second baseman Travis Demeritte (No. 21 prospect) have been key to High Desert's early season success, and both thrived Monday as the Mavericks edged Visalia, 2-1.

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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.

Sheldon named Astros' Honorary Bat Girl

HOUSTON -- Belinda Sheldon of Humble, Texas, was named the Astros' winner of the 2016 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.

The 30 individual team winners will be recognized at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day, or on alternate dates by teams that are on the road. The Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony, and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fister's 'best stuff' helps put Astros back on track

Fister's 'best stuff' helps put Astros back on track

OAKLAND -- Doug Fister has seen Astros second baseman Jose Altuve from both dugouts, and he's happier they share the same one this year.

Fister put together his best performance of the season Sunday in the Astros' 2-1 victory over the Athletics, though he wanted to share the credit, starting with the leadoff hitter.

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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.

Altuve, Fister carry Astros past A's in finale

Altuve, Fister carry Astros past A's in finale

OAKLAND -- The Astros only needed Colby Rasmus' RBI sacrifice fly and two hits, including Jose Altuve's leadoff solo home run, to dodge a three-game series sweep and edge the A's, 2-1, on Sunday at the Coliseum.

Houston starter Doug Fister (2-3) allowed one run and scattered seven hits across 6 2/3 innings, picking up a victory in a game that could have gone either way, as the A's outhit the Astros, 8 to 2.

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Willie Bans is a contributor to MLB.com based in Oakland.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Astros on Sunday.

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

Looking forward, Astros 'ready to turn the page'

Devenski, Feldman provide bright spots as Houston closes door on April

Looking forward, Astros 'ready to turn the page'

OAKLAND -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch may have found another starter in Chris Devenski, who had been working out of the bullpen during his rookie season.

Devenski delivered an effective outing in his first Major League start, though the Astros' offense continued to struggle. Houston found itself on the wrong side of a 2-0 decision against the A's on Saturday at the Coliseum.

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

Devenski solid in first start, but bats quiet

Devenski solid in first start, but bats quiet

OAKLAND -- A's right-hander Jesse Hahn was outstanding in his season debut, stringing together 6 2/3 impressive innings against the Astros in a 2-0 series-clinching victory at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

Hahn held the Astros to three hits and two walks, striking out four in his first start with Oakland since July 1, 2015. The right-hander missed the second half of last year with a forearm strain and made his first four starts of the 2016 campaign with Triple-A Nashville following a disappointing spring showing.

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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Rick Eymer 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.

Fiers fires 7 strong, while Gattis slugs 1st HR

Astros get key performances before heartbreaking loss

Fiers fires 7 strong, while Gattis slugs 1st HR

OAKLAND -- Everything seemed to be in place for the Astros to finally win back-to-back games this season.

Mike Fiers produced his best game of the season and clubhouse leader Evan Gattis produced his first home run.

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Rick Eymer is a contributor for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fiers solid, but Astros can't hold off A's rally

Fiers solid, but Astros can't hold off A's rally

OAKLAND -- Yonder Alonso notched his first homer of the season in thrilling fashion, launching a walk-off, three-run homer off Pat Neshek in the ninth inning for the A's, who also watched their top pitching prospect, Sean Manaea, make his big league debut in the 7-4 series-opening victory over the Astros at the Coliseum on Friday evening.

Stephen Vogt began the ninth with a double, and Mark Canha's ensuing sacrifice bunt advanced pinch-runner Tyler Ladendorf to third, at which point Coco Crisp was intentionally walked to bring Alonso, batting .174 this season, to the plate.

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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Rick Eymer is a contributor for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Friday.

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

Altuve jump-starts balanced attack as Astros drop M's

Altuve jump-starts balanced attack as Astros drop M's

SEATTLE -- Jose Altuve ripped a home run and two doubles as the Astros snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday with a 7-4 win over the Mariners in their series finale at Safeco Field.

Altuve went 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs as he hiked his average to .330 with six homers on the season, while right-hander Collin McHugh picked up the win with five innings of two-run ball. The win was just the second in the past nine games for Houston, which trails the American League West at 7-15.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009, 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.

Production company: Bats come alive with RISP

Astros go 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position in win over Mariners

Production company: Bats come alive with RISP

SEATTLE -- The Astros enjoyed their best night at the plate this season when it came to hitting in the clutch. Entering the game ranked last in the Majors in batting average with runners in scoring position (.185), the Astros went 5-for-10 in a 7-4 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night at Safeco Field.

All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve set the tone by going 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs at the top of the lineup, but bases-loaded hits by Colby Rasmus in the fifth inning and designated hitter Evan Gattis in the seventh provided the offensive support.

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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.

Reed among top prospect performers Thursday

Pirates prospect continues to impress while Boston outfielder stays hot at the plate

Reed among top prospect performers Thursday

With Jameson Taillon's impressive start to the 2016 season, you would never suspect that he hadn't pitched competitively since '13.

The Pirates' No. 4 prospect (No. 51 overall) improved to 2-0 on Thursday, firing seven innings of one-run ball for Triple-A Indianapolis in a win against Norfolk. Taillon scattered five hits and issued two walks in the outing, which was his longest of the season for the Indians.

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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.

McHugh signs $3.96M brand deal with Fantex

McHugh signs $3.96M brand deal with Fantex

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Collin McHugh, whose 28 wins since Aug. 1, 2014, rank second in the Majors in that time span behind only Jake Arrieta (30), has entered into a $3.96 million brand contract with Fantex, which will receive 10 percent of McHugh's future earnings on and off the field.

In the future, Fantex expects to sell shares of McHugh's "stock" to public investors. In this case, those investors will see a profit if McHugh earns more than $39.6 million in his career. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association each have approved agreements like this in the past.

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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.

Feldman will be ready in relief

Right-hander being skipped in Astros rotation in favor of Devenski

Feldman will be ready in relief

SEATTLE -- Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman is taking the the news that he's being replaced in the rotation by rookie right-hander Chris Devenski in stride. Feldman has been through this before, he said Wednesday, adding that he needed to focus now on being ready to pitch in relief this weekend in Oakland.

Feldman went 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in four starts out of the gate, but was told by manager A.J. Hinch on Tuesday that Devenski would start in his place. Hinch said Feldman could return to the rotation next week.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009, 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.

Kratz presed into action to spare bullpen

Kratz presed into action to spare bullpen

SEATTLE -- The last thing a manager wants to do is put a position player on the mound, but it became a necessary evil for A.J. Hinch of the Astros in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 11-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

With the game out of hand and Astros long reliever Michael Feliz having thrown 42 pitches en route to giving up four runs in the seventh, Hinch turned to backup catcher Erik Kratz to work the eighth. He allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) in one inning and threw a couple of wild pitches, but it could have been worse.

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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.