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Crane praises Springer, Astros' fire during surge

HOUSTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane passed manager Bo Porter in the halls of the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston prior to the Beacon Awards Luncheon on Friday afternoon and was pleased to see the skipper smiling. The Astros, after all, were riding a six-game winning streak.

"I said the press conference gets a little bit easier when you win six in a row," Crane said. "The team is starting to play a lot better. It's jelling a little bit, we got a little excitement when [George] Springer came up. We have a few more guys coming. We knew we were better than we were playing, and a little bit of confidence has started to take hold, and we're excited about the team."

Crane had high hopes for the Astros prior to the season after opening the wallet to sign veterans like pitchers Scott Feldman, Jesse Crain, Matt Albers and trading for Dexter Fowler, saying he thought they could finish .500. The Astros stumbled out of the gate and were 12-27 before reeling off 12 wins in 18 games to get within nine games of .500.

"When a couple of guys get a little spark, then everybody starts piling on," he said. "We've had good pitching all year long except for a little bit of the bullpen. Hopefully that's shored up and we can get it back to .500 soon."

The arrival of Springer, who entered Friday with an 11-game hitting streak and seven homers in his previous seven games, has injected life into the club, Crane said.

"He's a dynamic young man," he said. "He's got a great swing. He's cut down on it a little bit and is making contact. He's a guy, when you look him in the eyes, you can tell he's a gamer and wants to play and doesn't seem to be nervous and is very talented."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for
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