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Astros fall after rally ends on overturned call

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The Astros' weeklong offensive blitz came to a sudden and quiet end on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, and their six-game winning streak ended as well.

That's because Angels starter Tyler Skaggs and two relievers combined to hand the Astros, who had scored 47 runs in their previous six games, their first shutout loss of the season, 2-0, in the series opener at Minute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- The Astros' weeklong offensive blitz came to a sudden and quiet end on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, and their six-game winning streak ended as well.

That's because Angels starter Tyler Skaggs and two relievers combined to hand the Astros, who had scored 47 runs in their previous six games, their first shutout loss of the season, 2-0, in the series opener at Minute Maid Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"Clearly, he was in command of the game," manager AJ Hinch said of Skaggs. "Coming out of Chicago, we were swinging the bats very well, but a well-pitched game by him."

The game ended when Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was thrown out at third base by catcher Martin Maldonado trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Gurriel was originally called safe, but the call was overturned after a review.

"It's a tough way to end the game, but I can't fault Yuli for trying to be aggressive," Hinch said.

Video: LAA@HOU: Hinch on Cole, lack of offense in loss

The Astros' best chances to score came against the Angels' bullpen. In the eighth, reliever Justin Anderson, making his big league debut, struck out Carlos Correa swinging to strand runners at first and third, then closer Keynan Middleton allowed the first two batters to reach in the ninth before striking out the next two.

"He is a guy that can have some high pitch counts," Hinch said of Middleton, who was working for the third day in a row. "It's a little bit of a tough spot. You have to be ready to hit, because he might throw a hittable pitch, but he's also got really good chase stuff."

Skaggs (3-1) held the Astros to four hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings, sending down 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. He outdueled Astros starter Gerrit Cole (2-1), who went seven innings for the fifth start in a row, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out eight.

Video: LAA@HOU: Cole K's eight over seven strong frames

"Those first couple of innings were electric," Hinch said of Cole, who retired the first 13 batters he faced before Luis Valbuena singled and scored in the fifth. "He minimized damage, which is what you want out of your pitcher, and you look up and he's given up two runs and loses the game. He put us in a position to win."

Cole threw a season-high 109 pitches and is the only pitcher in club history to start his career by throwing at least seven innings with two runs or fewer in five starts. His 49 strikeouts are tied for the fifth most recorded by a pitcher in his first five starts with a team.

"You can only control so much," Cole said. "We couldn't control tonight how well Skaggs threw the ball. I got to watch a good amount of his start walking back and forth through the dugout, and he was on the corners all night and changing speeds, and he was really executing his pitches well. Sometimes you run into those situations."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Middleton gave up the single to Gurriel and walked Alex Bregman to start the ninth before falling behind on Marwin Gonzalez, 2-0. The next eight pitches Middleton threw were strikes, whiffing Gonzalez swinging and getting Evan Gattis swinging on three pitches. Middleton had Max Stassi in an 0-2 hole when he bounced a pitch in the dirt. Gurriel got a late jump off second base and was thrown out by Maldonado, a Gold Glove winner last year, to end the game.

"Marwin got in a good hitter's count, and then a tough call on a ball low," Hinch said. "And then a couple of chased breaking balls or changeups, whatever they were. Just some right-on-right stuff, which is what Middleton's strengths are. We had an opportunity to get back in it, but it does show we have plenty of fight in us."

SOUND SMART
Collin McHugh has 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings pitched in relief.

Video: LAA@HOU: McHugh K's Valbuena in the 9th inning

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Gurriel was originally called safe at third base in the ninth, but the replay clearly showed Valbuena tagging Gurriel before his left hand touched the bag. The call was overturned to end the game.

"The ball kicks up, and lucky for Maldonado it kicked toward third base," Hinch said. "It shortens the throw. He's a Gold Glover for a reason and came up firing and threw a bullet to Valbuena."

UP NEXT
The Astros will get their first look at Japanese star Shohei Ohtani (2-1, 3.60 ERA), who makes his fourth start of the season in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park. Charlie Morton (3-0, 0.72 ERA), who hasn't allowed an earned run in three of his first four starts and leads the AL in ERA, will get the ball for the Astros.

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

Houston Astros

Altuve, Astros ready for 1st look at Ohtani

Japanese two-way star starts opposite Morton on Tuesday
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The Astros are about to get their first look at two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who's scheduled to make his fourth start of the season on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Ohtani is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts, having lasted only two innings last Tuesday against Boston after developing a blister and giving up three runs on four hits.

Ohtani isn't in the lineup at designated hitter the day before or after he pitches, so Tuesday will be the only time the Astros see him on the field during the Angels' visit.

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HOUSTON -- The Astros are about to get their first look at two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who's scheduled to make his fourth start of the season on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Ohtani is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts, having lasted only two innings last Tuesday against Boston after developing a blister and giving up three runs on four hits.

Ohtani isn't in the lineup at designated hitter the day before or after he pitches, so Tuesday will be the only time the Astros see him on the field during the Angels' visit.

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"He's just another pitcher," Astros outfielder Josh Reddick said. "It's all about hype, so you have to go in there and do your thing against another pitcher. Obviously, you're excited to face him and see what he's about, but I don't think we're worried at all."

Ohtani -- whose 19 strikeouts, all swinging, through his first three games are tied for the Angels' record -- allowed three runs in six innings in his first start, on April 1 at Oakland, and he held the A's to one hit in seven scoreless innings a week later. Four of the six runs he's allowed have scored on home runs.

"I hear he's good," said three-time batting champion Jose Altuve, who singled off Ohtani in 2014 in the Japan All-Star Series. "He throws 100 [mph] with a good split. We've got to battle out there and go out there and try to score some runs, even against him."

Video: MLB@JPN: Altuve knocks a leadoff single to right

The Astros were prepared to try to sign Ohtani out of Japan last winter but never got past the first round of negotiations.

"I'm certainly interested to see him," manager AJ Hinch said. "We have to find a way to beat him. He's been very good early on. I know he had one little bad start. I think everyone is a little intrigued. Similar to any player that comes into this league, certainly he has fanfare and international notoriety. There's intrigue to check him out and see what he's got against our guys."

As a hitter, Ohtani set an Angels record with 16 total bases and seven RBIs through his first four games with a plate appearance. He's the first American League player to homer in three straight games in the same season in which he started a game as a pitcher since Babe Ruth in 1930.

Being selective key for Fisher

The Astros are going to be patient with struggling outfielder Derek Fisher, who was hitting .128 with 19 strikeouts in 39 at-bats entering the series with the Angels. He's drawn only two walks.

Hinch said the key to Fisher's at-bats is pitch selection.

"He's frustrated because of some of the tough at-bats and the swing and miss," Hinch said. "He can still run the bases well and is playing good defense. He's mixed in a couple of games here and there, but there is a sense of urgency that we'd like to see him be a little bit more consistent at the plate. He knows that. We know that. He's been at this level for a few months now to where the league is adjusting to him, [and] he's got to adjust back to the league."

Fisher has swung and missed at 34.7 percent of the 171 pitches he's been thrown this season, which is the second-highest percentage on the team behind Jake Marisnick (36 percent entering Monday). Against breaking pitches, Fisher has whiffed 42 percent of the time (34 pitches).

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

Houston Astros

Patient Astros continue red-hot run vs. Sox

Gonzalez's 2B highlights 5-run 7th; club ties best 23-game start in franchise history
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- After jumping to early leads and blowing out the White Sox in the first two games of the series at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Astros had to wait a few innings before flexing their offensive muscles Sunday afternoon.

The Astros sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across five runs in the seventh inning, including a two-run, bases-loaded double by Marwin Gonzalez, and pulled away to win, 7-1, and sweep the White Sox for their sixth win in a row.

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CHICAGO -- After jumping to early leads and blowing out the White Sox in the first two games of the series at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Astros had to wait a few innings before flexing their offensive muscles Sunday afternoon.

The Astros sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across five runs in the seventh inning, including a two-run, bases-loaded double by Marwin Gonzalez, and pulled away to win, 7-1, and sweep the White Sox for their sixth win in a row.

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Video: HOU@CWS: Hinch on 7th inning, win over White Sox

The Astros (16-7) outscored the White Sox, 26-2, in the series to match the 1980 and 2015 Houston clubs for the best 23-game start in franchise history. In the three games against Chicago, the Astros had 36 hits and drew 18 walks. They were 13-for-31 (.419) with runners in scoring position.

"We put a lot of pressure on them offensively and on the bases, and not giving up hardly any runs helps," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Again, when we can play all facets of the game we are a tough team to match up with. We saw a lot of that this three-game series, being the aggressive team that puts up pretty good at-bats, some explosive innings and great pitching."

Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1) continued the Astros' terrific starting pitching by limiting the White Sox to one run on eight hits in six innings. Astros starters have a 2.10 ERA this season, including a 1.32 ERA in the team's last 10 games.

"For the most part, I felt pretty good," said McCullers, who was on the mound for two of the four double plays the Astros turned. "You had to grind through some innings and that's all part of it. I made some big pitches when I needed to, the defense made some big plays and got a win."

Video: HOU@CWS: Correa makes backhanded pick, turns two

Jose Altuve's RBI single in the seventh off reliever Bruce Rondon gave the Astros a 2-1 lead, and Alex Bregman singled with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. Gonzalez tagged the first pitch he saw from reliever Nate Jones and hit a ground-rule double to left-center to stretch the lead to 5-1.

"That whole inning was full of really good at-bats," Hinch said. "Overall, another big inning for us and we needed it on a day that was pretty slow to develop because of their pitcher."

Video: HOU@CWS: Altuve gives Astros lead with an RBI single

Gonzalez went 1-for-5, but the player who led the World Series champions a year ago with 90 RBIs smacked a two-run, bases-loaded double on Saturday and Sunday. In fact, both hits would have cleared the bases had they not been ground-rule doubles, so the bounces over the fence cost Gonzalez a couple of RBIs.

"To be honest, I don't really care, because how I am right now, I'm hoping for a base hit," Gonzalez said with a smile. "Even if it was a base-hit RBI I was going to take it. I'm not thinking that much about those RBIs. Yeah, it cost me two RBIs, but all I want right now is to get comfortable and get the confidence back."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jake Marisnick ignited the Astros' five-run seventh inning with a pinch-hit single. The knock snapped an 0-for-22 funk for Marisnick, who had struck out 27 times in his first 51 plate appearances this season. Marisnick went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the eventual game-winning run on Altuve's single to mark the first run he's scored since April 3.

Video: HOU@CWS: Marisnick singles to end hitless streak

"Just to help contribute and help win that game and get on base for the guys behind me -- they put some at-bats together -- it's a step in the right direction, so just keep going off that," Marisnick said.

These guys are making it easy for the bullpen

SOUND SMART
Relief pitcher Will Harris recorded his 19th consecutive scoreless appearance on the road, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The White Sox unsuccessfully challenged a call in the third inning, contending that Yoan Moncada slid safely across home plate ahead of the tag from catcher Max Stassi, who took a throw from Josh Reddick in right field following a Jose Abreu single. The call stood, and Moncada was out.

Video: HOU@CWS: Reddick throws out Moncada, call stands

UP NEXT
The Astros open a 10-game homestand Monday by sending Gerrit Cole to the mound to face the Angels at 7:10 p.m. CT. Cole (2-0, 0.96 ERA) has struck out 41 batters and allowed three earned runs in 28 innings in his first four starts with Houston. Lefty Tyler Skaggs will start for the Angels.

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

Houston Astros

These guys are making it easy for the bullpen

Starters' effectiveness limits Astros relief to 4th-fewest innings in MLB
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- The dominance of the Astros' starting rotation in the first three weeks of the season has had a ripple effect on the bullpen. Houston relievers had thrown the fourth fewest innings (62) in the Major Leagues entering Sunday, which could pay huge dividends going forward if the starters continue work deep into games.

Through 22 games, Astros starters had a 2.12 ERA in 135 2/3 innings, both tops in the Major Leagues. The Astros' bullpen ranked third in the Majors with a 2.61 ERA.

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CHICAGO -- The dominance of the Astros' starting rotation in the first three weeks of the season has had a ripple effect on the bullpen. Houston relievers had thrown the fourth fewest innings (62) in the Major Leagues entering Sunday, which could pay huge dividends going forward if the starters continue work deep into games.

Through 22 games, Astros starters had a 2.12 ERA in 135 2/3 innings, both tops in the Major Leagues. The Astros' bullpen ranked third in the Majors with a 2.61 ERA.

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"Any days you can take away from the bullpen will help them over the long stretch," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "There was a stretch here I've used [Chris] Devenski every other day or [Will] Harris every other day or guys two out of three days and that accumulation will catch up over time.

Video: HOU@SEA: Devenski gets a double play to earn the save

"It's nice when the starters absorb a lot of those innings or maybe there's an inning or two in there we have to force the pitchers into pitching because they haven't pitched in a few days. I'd rather err on the side of too little usage than too much usage."

Last year, Houston relievers posted a 4.09 ERA in 88 games in the first half of the season and a 4.49 ERA in 73 games in the second half. Hinch patched his bullpen together in the postseason using starters in several key spots, including Charlie Morton in Game 7 of the World Series.

Astros blazing a trail on Earth Day
The Astros joined the rest of baseball in celebrating Earth Day on Sunday, and the club boasts a variety of green initiatives, including LED lighting at Minute Maid Park.

Major League Baseball was the first professional sports league to have all of its teams as members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities in sports. In fact, MLB clubs diverted more than 20,000 tons of recycled or composted waste during the 2017 season.

The Astros have retrofitted light fixtures in their front-office spaces and converted center-field lighting to LED. They also provide single-stream recycling opportunities for fans and engage in cardboard, pallet and electronic recycling -- maintaining a 5-percent increase in their diversion rate each year.

What's more, the Astros and Nationals are currently pursuing LEED Silver certification at their Spring Training facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications are given to buildings that meet strict guidelines for environmental responsibility by using less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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

Houston Astros

Straw makes Pipeline Team of the Week

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minor Leagues from the previous week. Any player on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible.

It's just our second edition of Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week and we already have a pair of repeat performers.

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minor Leagues from the previous week. Any player on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible.

It's just our second edition of Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week and we already have a pair of repeat performers.

2018 Prospect Teams of the Week

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Orioles lefty Zac Lowther have earned back-to-back honors, with both showing that the South Atlantic League is not so challenging for them thus far. Soto is joined by two other members of our Top 100 and Lowther is accompanied by a fellow member of the 2017 Draft class.  

Here is the latest addition of Prospect Team of the Week, for the week of April 16-22.

C: Austin Allen, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
(Padres' No. 28 prospect)
6 G, .500/.577/.909, 7 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K

Allen was a two-time PTOW honoree last year in a season that saw him hit 22 homers and slug .497. Those wanting to see if that was a California League mirage should be pleased with his start, as his 11-for-22 week (with five extra-base hits) now has him hitting .373 with a .780 slugging percentage and six homers in the Texas League. He tops the circuit in slugging and OPS (1.202).

Watch: Allen crushes a double

1B: Sam Travis, Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A)
(Red Sox's No. 5 prospect)
6 G, .417/.500/.625, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K

Travis had four straight multi-hit games Monday through Thursday, starting with a two-hit performance that included his first home run of the International League season. Even with an 0-for-5 to end the week, he was still able to raise his season slash line to .346/.414/.462.

Watch: Travis ties score with two-run single

2B: David Fletcher, Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A)
(Angels' No. 24 prospect)
6 G, .467/.484/.767, 9 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB

Fletcher nearly made the big league team out of Spring Training and is now hitting like he wants to force his way there. He has a seven-game hitting streak going and has raised his average from .172 on April 11 to .366. Four three-hit games this past week certainly helped and he picked up his first homer of the year while not striking out all week.

Watch: Fletcher doubles as part of four-hit game

3B: Austin Riley, Mississippi Braves (Double-A)
(Braves' No. 8 prospect/MLB No. 97)
6 G, .522/.560/1.043, 5 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K

Riley has historically been a slow starter, but he's trying to reverse that trend in the Southern League in the early going. He led all prospects who can qualify for PTOW with 24 total bases last week and is now tied for second in the league with 14 RBIs and is fourth in OPS (1.190). His .386 average puts him eighth in the circuit.

Watch: Riley crushes third homer of 2018

SS: Brendan Rodgers, Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A)
(Rockies' No. 1 prospect/MLB No. 14)
6 G, .520/.538/.800, 3 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB, 4 K

When the week began, Rodgers was hitting just .143. Now he's up to .300 after a week that saw him hit in all six games he played in. He kicked things off with a three-hit performance and finished by going 5-for-5 on Sunday, including crushing his third home run of the season. Thanks to the week, Rodgers is now eighth in the Eastern League with his .533 slugging percentage.

Watch: Rodgers homers as part of five-hit day

OF: Calvin Mitchell, West Virginia Power (Class A)
(Pirates' No. 16 prospect)
7 G, .467/.500/.733, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB, 6 K

Heading to full-season ball as a high school draftee can be tough, but Mitchell, the Pirates' second-round pick last June, seems to be adjusting just fine. He now has an eight-game hitting streak going and had four multi-hit games this past week. He homered and drove in three runs on Wednesday before going 4-for-4 with four RBIs on Saturday. He's currently fourth in the South Atlantic League in batting average (.364) and OPS (1.070) and fifth in slugging (.652).

OF: Myles Straw, Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A)
(Astros' No. 21 prospect)
6 G, .520/.581/.680, 5 R, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SB, 4 K

Straw has a six-game hitting streak going, starting last week with a four-hit game and adding a 5-for-5 showing on Saturday. That's pushed his average up over .400 (he's second in the Texas League at .407). He also swiped three bases, giving him a league-leading 11 steals on the season (tied for third in the Minors).

Watch: Straw's four-hit night

OF: Juan Soto, Hagerstown Suns (Class A)
(Nationals' No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 29)
6 G, .391/.481/.739, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K

Soto showed an innate knack for hitting last year, but also missed most of the season with injuries. He's showing it was no fluke with how he's begun his 2018 campaign back in the South Atlantic League, with four two-hit games this last week. His advanced approach is clearly working, as he leads the SAL with his .486 on-base percentage. Soto's raw power is showing up in games: He tops the circuit in OPS (1.300) and slugging (.814) while his five homers put him in a tie for third. His strong start to the year earned him a promotion to Class A Advanced Potomac of the Carolina League.

Watch: Soto crushes three-run homer

LHP: Zac Lowther, Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A)
(Orioles' No. 17 prospect)
1-1, 0.90 ERA, 2 GS, 10 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 18 K, 0.60 WHIP

Lowther is back again, even if he did give up some hits and a run. After beginning his year with six no-hit innings, the southpaw followed it up with two five-inning starts. Combined, he now has a ridiculous 31/2 K/BB ratio over his first 16 innings of work in the South Atlantic League to go along with a .094 batting average against and 0.44 WHIP.

RHP: Tony Santillan, Daytona Tortugas (Class A Advanced)
(Reds' No. 5 prospect)
2-0, 0.71 ERA, 2 GS, 12 2/3 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.79 WHIP

Santillan has always had dynamic stuff and he's coming off of a strong full season in the Midwest League. The one thing that has been a bit of a question mark has been his command, but if the start to his Florida State League season is any indication, he's headed in the right direction. After a week that saw him win both decisions, he's now gone at least six innings in three of his four starts this year with a 2.0 BB/9 rate.

RP: Seranthony Dominguez, Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A)
(Phillies' No. 12 prospect)
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 WHIP

Dominguez moved to the bullpen for the first time this season and the new role seems to suit him. His past as a starter still lets him go multiple innings, as he had a three-inning, no-hit, six-strikeout game on Wednesday and now has 17 K's (vs. just two walks) in 11 total innings.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Reddick's 2-HR night slams White Sox

Outfielder first in Astros history with two grand slams in April
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- Even though White Sox starter Lucas Giolito had walked him on four pitches in the first inning Saturday and had walked the first three Astros hitters ahead of him in the second inning, outfielder Josh Reddick wasn't about to let a fastball in the strike zone go past him.

Reddick mashed the first pitch Giolito threw to him in the second and sent it over the right-field wall for a game-breaking grand slam and added another homer in the fourth to back starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel in a 10-1 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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CHICAGO -- Even though White Sox starter Lucas Giolito had walked him on four pitches in the first inning Saturday and had walked the first three Astros hitters ahead of him in the second inning, outfielder Josh Reddick wasn't about to let a fastball in the strike zone go past him.

Reddick mashed the first pitch Giolito threw to him in the second and sent it over the right-field wall for a game-breaking grand slam and added another homer in the fourth to back starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel in a 10-1 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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"You've got to focus in and find the pitch you're looking for and put it in one spot, and if you get it, you get to take a swing at it. If you don't, let it go," Reddick said. "[Facing] a guy who's struggling, you try to stay in the zone as much as you can, and if he gives you one, then you take it."

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

The Astros have won five games in a row, outscoring their opponents 40-5 in the process, including 20-1 in the first two games against the White Sox. Houston has held the opposition to two runs or fewer in six consecutive games.

Video: HOU@CWS: Keuchel, Reddick on blowout win

Keuchel (1-3) earned his first win of the season by holding the White Sox to one run -- a solo homer in the fifth inning by Trayce Thompson -- and four hits in six innings. The Astros had scored six runs in the first four games Keuchel started before scoring four in both the first and second innings Saturday.

"I've been asking for runs, and then I was mad because we scored too many runs and it was a slow pace to start the game," Keuchel joked. "We're swinging the bat. That's who we are. I know the starters get a lot of pub and a lot of love, but we prefer the hitters to get the notoriety and us lay back in the weeds. It was a good all-around game and kind of a repetition of [Friday] night."

Video: HOU@CWS: Keuchel K's six over six frames in a win

The first four Astros hitters in the game reached and scored, capped by a bases-loaded ground-rule double by Marwin Gonzalez. Giolito walked George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to start the second and paid for it when Reddick launched his second grand slam of the season for an 8-0 lead.

"The approach with a guy like that, especially a young pitcher, is to be ready to hit in the middle of the zone, because if he can't locate, he's certainly going to throw to the big part of the zone," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.

Video: HOU@CWS: Gonzalez hits a two-run ground-rule double

Reddick became the first Astros player in history to hit two grand slams in April, and he's the first Houston hitter to have two grand slams in the same month since Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in May 2001. Reddick has eight multihomer games, including two this year.

"We're a good team and a good lineup and we weren't going to struggle for very long," Reddick said. "The way our staff has been starting games for us, it's been a whole lot easier to focus on getting our at-bats right and the way we need to do it and go about things."

Video: HOU@CWS: Reddick belts his second homer of the game

SOUND SMART
Prior to Reddick, the last American League players to record two games with at least two homers and five RBIs within the first 22 games of a season were Manny Ramirez (Boston) and Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) in 2005.

HE SAID IT
"Ecstatic. I didn't think I was going to have six in the first month. This is over the standard for myself." -- Reddick, on leading the club in home runs

Video: HOU@CWS: Reddick hits a grand slam, solo homer

Tweet from @astros: 15-7. #NeverSettle pic.twitter.com/rZ1cwkykvX

UP NEXT
Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 5.57 ERA), who struck out 11 batters and allowed just one hit and one run in seven innings Tuesday in Seattle, gets the start in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the White Sox. Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 1.42 ERA) will start for Chicago.

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

Houston Astros, Josh Reddick

Astros offer messages of support to Farquhar

Messages of support pour in for White Sox reliever in critical condition
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The focus of the White Sox clubhouse Saturday centered on reliever Danny Farquhar and really nothing more, with tests revealing he suffered a brain hemorrhage during the sixth inning of Friday night's loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Farquhar collapsed in the White Sox dugout after facing four batters, and the additional overnight testing at Rush University Medical Center revealed that a ruptured aneurysm caused the brain bleed, according to the White Sox. Farquhar is currently stable but in critical condition in the neurosurgical ICU unit and continues to receive treatment and close monitoring by Dr. Demetrius Lopes and the neurosurgical team.

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CHICAGO -- The focus of the White Sox clubhouse Saturday centered on reliever Danny Farquhar and really nothing more, with tests revealing he suffered a brain hemorrhage during the sixth inning of Friday night's loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Farquhar collapsed in the White Sox dugout after facing four batters, and the additional overnight testing at Rush University Medical Center revealed that a ruptured aneurysm caused the brain bleed, according to the White Sox. Farquhar is currently stable but in critical condition in the neurosurgical ICU unit and continues to receive treatment and close monitoring by Dr. Demetrius Lopes and the neurosurgical team.

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There was no discussion among the White Sox about not playing Saturday night against the Astros because of what had happened to their friend, and the team hung his jersey in the bullpen. There was plenty of conversation about thoughts and prayers for the 31-year-old Farquhar, his wife, Lexi, and their three children, Madison, Landon and Liam.

"It crushes us in this clubhouse, and nothing really matters baseball-wise when something like that happens," White Sox starter James Shields said. "When you see one of your brothers go down like that, it's not very fun to watch. He's such a resilient human being and we're praying for him. We hope everything goes well."

Tweet from @whitesox: ������ pic.twitter.com/JPC9IrNMqU

"He's alive, he's got a chance and that's what I'm hanging on to," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "And prayers are more necessary than talk."

Additional updates will be provided by the White Sox on Farquhar's health over the coming days as appropriate. But the club also asks that the privacy of the Farquhar family be respected at this time. Social media messages of hope from around baseball quickly came in for Farquhar, including from Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and his former teams from Tampa Bay and Seattle.

Tweet from @ARizzo44: Prayers for @whitesox Danny Farquhar. Another reminder how precious life is. Stay strong and keep fighting. My thoughts are with his family.

Houston shortstop Carlos Correa and manager AJ Hinch also talked about the tragedy hitting Farquhar during the course of Friday's game.

"It really is sad. I saw something going on when I was at shortstop in the dugout, but I didn't know what it was," Correa said. "I came here to watch my video and they told me that something happened to him. I asked the clubbies here what happened to him, and they didn't know at the time. Now that I know about the aneurysm and stuff, it's really sad. I'm wishing him the best, praying for him. Hopefully he gets better soon."

Tweet from @whitesox: Statement on Danny Farquhar. White Sox fans, please keep Danny and his family in your positive thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/4DdwnXbVXd

"I texted back and forth with [White Sox manager Rick Renteria], and it was a scary incident last night," Hinch said. "We could see across the way something was going on, and I think some of our guys saw him vomit, and then as the group went around him, it just became a scary scene. Then word trickles back, and then this morning getting that update is very scary. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and him, the White Sox, the team."

Video: Shields, Santiago pray for teammate Farquhar

Right-handed reliever Gregory Infante replaced Farquhar on the active roster, with Farquhar being placed on the 10-day disabled list. Renteria met with the White Sox early on Saturday, and the team will try to move on while always carrying thoughts of hope for Farquhar, who received immediate treatment from the White Sox medical staff and EMTs on Friday.

"We've got a good group of guys here and we're going to stick together," Shields said. "He's definitely stable from what we hear, but he's got a long way to go and he's fighting. One thing we know in this clubhouse is that Farqy, he's a fighter."

"Pray for him, pray for his family, pray for his kids," White Sox reliever Hector Santiago said. "We're in here worrying about him, but you can only do so much from our side of it, so just pray for the family and him and hope for the best."

"You don't lose sight of the reality of the circumstance and the situation he's in," said Renteria, who makes his offseason home in Temecula, Calif., as does Farquhar. "But these men know they can go out there and show him that they are thinking about him by the way they go about doing their business today."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Danny Farquhar

JV, bats sizzle as Astros cruise past White Sox

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- There was dominant starting pitching, of course. There were a couple of big swings of the bat by Carlos Correa and a mad dash around the bases by George Springer. The Astros are back to playing their brand of baseball.

Justin Verlander tossed six scoreless innings to win his 10th consecutive regular-season decision and Correa homered twice to lead the Astros to their fourth consecutive victory, 10-0, over the White Sox in the series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday night. With the win, the defending World Series champions reclaimed sole possession of first place in the American League West for the first time since April 9. They lead the Angels by a half-game.

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CHICAGO -- There was dominant starting pitching, of course. There were a couple of big swings of the bat by Carlos Correa and a mad dash around the bases by George Springer. The Astros are back to playing their brand of baseball.

Justin Verlander tossed six scoreless innings to win his 10th consecutive regular-season decision and Correa homered twice to lead the Astros to their fourth consecutive victory, 10-0, over the White Sox in the series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday night. With the win, the defending World Series champions reclaimed sole possession of first place in the American League West for the first time since April 9. They lead the Angels by a half-game.

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"That was one of our best games, obviously, in all facets," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We made some pretty good defensive plays, we swung the bats. We've been pitching like this almost the entire year. A really good night for us."

Video: HOU@CWS: Correa launches a pair of home runs

Verlander (3-0) improved to 10-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last 13 regular-season starts, including 8-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 10 starts with the Astros. He has yet to allow a run on the road this season, a stretch totaling 19 innings. Astros starting pitchers are 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA in the team's last eight games, striking out 72 in 56 innings.

"That's what we talked about in spring," Verlander said. "Every guy has the ability to go out there and shut an offense down, and over the course of the season that plays pretty well. I don't know if anybody expected us to start off this well, but we probably did. It's fun to be a part of."

White Sox starter James Shields held the Astros scoreless for three innings before Houston broke through with five runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run double by Springer, who ended up scoring on the play when an errant throw to the plate hit Marwin Gonzalez as Gonzalez was sliding home.

Video: HOU@CWS: Springer races home for Little League dinger

"That's a long run from home to home on a dead sprint, but it's all good. I'm glad to help the team," said Springer, who drove in four runs.

Another two-run double by Springer and a two-run homer by Correa in the sixth pushed the lead to 9-0, marking the second consecutive game Houston has scored nine runs. Correa homered again in the ninth. The Astros have scored 26 runs in their past three games, one more than in their previous seven games combined.

"We feel good," Correa said. "We've been swinging the bat better. It was about time. We had a sluggish week last week I feel like and this is what we like to do, this is what we do as a team when we put great at-bats together. Hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Video: HOU@CWS: Springer lines a two-run double to right

Yuli might not be the best Gurriel we'll see in 2018

SOUND SMART
Astros catcher Brian McCann, who had two walks and a hit Friday, has a .490 on-base percentage this season. His career high is .388 in 2006.

HE SAID IT
"You know, after the way he had been jubilant about some of the other things, I was just as jubilant about that. Very thankful he gave me an out."
-- Verlander, who took offense to Chicago's Tim Anderson celebrating a single in the fifth and then running to second on a 3-0 count. Verlander tried to pick off Anderson at second and wound up getting Omar Narvaez, who had walked, out at second base instead.

Video: HOU@CWS: Verlander, Altuve team up for strange out

UP NEXT
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (0-3, 3.52 ERA) will start Saturday's 6:10 p.m. CT game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, facing Lucas Giolito. Keuchel is searching for his first win, but threw a complete game in his most recent outing Monday at Seattle.

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

Houston Astros

Springer's Little League HR caps 5-run frame

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- The Astros continued to break out offensively Friday night against the White Sox.

After erupting for 16 runs in consecutive wins over the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday, the Astros had White Sox starter James Shields on the ropes in the second inning Friday before breaking through with a five-run fourth inning. Houston went on to win, 10-0.

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CHICAGO -- The Astros continued to break out offensively Friday night against the White Sox.

After erupting for 16 runs in consecutive wins over the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday, the Astros had White Sox starter James Shields on the ropes in the second inning Friday before breaking through with a five-run fourth inning. Houston went on to win, 10-0.

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The Astros sent eight to the plate in the frame and six of them reached, including RBI singles by Alex Bregman and Brian McCann. George Springer broke things open when he shot a two-run double to left field to make it 4-0 and wound up scoring on the play when the ensuing throw to the plate hit off Marwin Gonzalez and rolled into foul territory.

The five-run inning was the second-largest by the Astros this year, trailing only the six-run seventh inning they had Wednesday in Seattle.

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

Houston Astros, George Springer

Yuli might not be the best Gurriel we'll see in '18

Houston 1B, on brother Lourdes Jr.'s callup: He hits better, runs better, plays D better than me
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

CHICAGO -- When Yuli Gurriel and his younger brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., defected from Cuba following the Caribbean Series in February 2016, they did so with big league dreams. Eighteen months later, Yuli made his Major League debut with the Astros at 32 years old, and in his first full season in the big leagues in '17, he helped the Astros win the World Series.

Lourdes, who hit .347 in 12 games at Double-A, was in the lineup Friday night for the Blue Jays, but there's no promise how long he'll stay. The move could be temporary. Still, Yuli said his little brother called to tell him the news.

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CHICAGO -- When Yuli Gurriel and his younger brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., defected from Cuba following the Caribbean Series in February 2016, they did so with big league dreams. Eighteen months later, Yuli made his Major League debut with the Astros at 32 years old, and in his first full season in the big leagues in '17, he helped the Astros win the World Series.

Lourdes, who hit .347 in 12 games at Double-A, was in the lineup Friday night for the Blue Jays, but there's no promise how long he'll stay. The move could be temporary. Still, Yuli said his little brother called to tell him the news.

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"First and foremost, I said congrats, and I let him know everyone is very happy," Yuli said. "Myself and the rest of the family is very happy."

Video: TOR@PHI: Gurriel ropes a triple to left-center field

Their father, Lourdes Gurriel Sr., played for the Cuban National Team for 15 years and won a gold medal, two batting titles and an MVP Award. He was also a national team manager.

"The entire family is happy," Yuli said. "My father is happy. We're seeing the fruits of the work that we put in all this time and we're very happy because of that."

Yuli said his brother, a second baseman, is brimming with talent and believes he's ready to show it in the Major Leagues.

"Don't want to give him too much pressure, but he hits better than me, runs better than me and plays better than me defensively," he said.

The Blue Jays and Astros don't meet until June 25-27 in Houston. The brothers might have a better chance of meeting on the field during the final week of the season in Toronto when rosters expand.

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

Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel

Morton, Astros' rotation continue to sizzle in win

Starter tosses 7 shutout innings to improve AL-leading ERA to 0.72; Altuve drives in 4
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Looking at the box score of the Astros' 9-2 victory over the Mariners, you probably wouldn't guess they were victims of a bizarre triple play and a starting pitcher taking a line drive off his pitching elbow.

Charlie Morton, however, shook it off and pitched seven shutout innings Thursday at Safeco Field, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out eight in another dominant performance by a Houston starting pitcher.

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SEATTLE -- Looking at the box score of the Astros' 9-2 victory over the Mariners, you probably wouldn't guess they were victims of a bizarre triple play and a starting pitcher taking a line drive off his pitching elbow.

Charlie Morton, however, shook it off and pitched seven shutout innings Thursday at Safeco Field, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out eight in another dominant performance by a Houston starting pitcher.

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Jose Altuve had four RBIs, including a bases-clearing double during a four-run fifth inning, but this game was all about the man on the mound. Morton improved to 3-0 and has the best ERA in the American League at 0.72.

Video: HOU@SEA: Altuve doubles twice, drives in four in win

And he did it despite a Robinson Cano line drive that careened off Morton's elbow in the fourth inning.

"He obviously came back strong and was throwing really good stuff,'' Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "I applaud him for being able to collect himself and finish the inning and some more strong innings after that. Just an incredible job."

Morton said anytime you get hit with a hard liner like that one, you have to give it a couple of minutes to see how you feel.

"It depends on how it's affecting you,'' Morton said. "I was able to stay loose for the most part."

Video: HOU@SEA: Morton remains in game after comebacker

The Astros now have three of the top four ERAs among AL starters, including Gerrit Cole at 0.96 and Justin Verlander at 1.35.

Morton has gone six innings or longer in all four of his starts this season, but that's nothing new for this staff. The starting pitchers for Houston have gone six innings or more in the last seven games.

"Yeah, but it can change quick,'' Morton warned. "In 2015, I won my first five starts, then I gave up nine runs in two-thirds of an inning. My goal is just go out there and have quality innings. It's pitch to pitch."

And moment to moment, in a game that seemed to turn in Houston's favor after Evan Gattis hit into a triple play in the fourth inning. The Astros scored all nine runs after that incident and finished with 11 hits.

"That was a weird game, sort of the tale of two different halves,'' Hinch said. "A couple of pitchers avoiding major injuries with comebackers [including Seattle starter Marco Gonzales on a Carlos Correa liner] and a triple play I don't even want to talk about."

Video: HOU@SEA: Hinch on weird game, Morton's outing

Max Stassi and Josh Reddick each hit solo home runs late before Altuve drove in his fourth run of the game with another RBI double in a three-run ninth inning.

"We knew it was a matter of time until we turned things around," Reddick said of the Houston hitters.

Video: HOU@SEA: Stassi belts a solo dinger to right

Reddick also praised the starting pitchers, who have kept games close and given the offense plenty of opportunities to finally get going.

"It's a lot easier in the outfield, I can tell you that,'' Reddick said. "You just have to jog in and out. We couldn't ask for more from those guys."

The Astros (13-7) won the final three games of the series with the Mariners after losing the series opener. Houston is 9-1 in its last 10 games against Seattle, dating back to last season.

Video: HOU@SEA: Reddick launches a solo jack to right-center

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
An error by Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager on Alex Bregman's grounder to third opened the door for the four-run fifth. Marwin Gonzalez immediately singled and Reddick followed with an RBI before a single and a walk loaded the bases for Altuve.

Video: HOU@SEA: Bregman scores on Reddick's fielder's choice

"We took advantage of a couple of weird plays,'' Hinch said. "We're an opportunist offense. We're pretty potent when you give us extra opportunities. It was nice to see our guys loosen up a little bit in the second half of the game."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
As crazy a 5-4-3 triple play as you'll ever see. The Astros were victimized when Gattis became distracted after grounding into a double play and walked away from first base. It marked the first triple play the Astros hit into since George Springer did so in 2016, and their ninth in club history.

Video: Must C Curious: Mariners turn unique triple play

"It was just a mistake," Gattis said. "I knew how many outs there were. It was about grounding into a double play. At the time, I wanted to laugh on the inside because of how stupid it was. It was a 0-0 game. I think I got so mad I couldn't think straight. It's ridiculous." More >

SOUND SMART
Astros reliever Will Harris has recorded 18 consecutive scoreless appearances on the road, dating back to last season, the longest active streak in baseball. But it's only the fifth-longest in team history. The longest was left-hander Tim Byrdak, who had a 24-game streak in 2010.

Video: HOU@SEA: Reddick, Hinch discuss late efforts in win

UP NEXT
The Astros will move on to cooler temperatures when they start a three-game series against the White Sox on Friday night (7:10 CT) at Guaranteed Rate Field. "We're not wired to play in cold weather in this sport,'' said Hinch. "But both teams have to deal with it, and we have to toughen up a little bit." Verlander (2-0, 1.35 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season. The White Sox, who have yet to announce a starter, have lost four consecutive games and nine of the last 10.

Terry Blount is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis, Charlie Morton, Josh Reddick, Max Stassi