Astros look set for playoffs but still desperately need a starter

The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels to split their four-game series.

The Houston Astros reminded everyone why they are the best team in the American League (AL) West, beating the Los Angeles Angels again in MLB.

Houston dropped the Angels 6-2 on the road on Thursday to win their second straight game over Los Angeles, forcing a split in a four-game series.

The Astros outscored LA 17-4 in those two games.

The Astros got a much-needed win when the Oakland Athletics lost, stretching their lead to 5.5 games in the West. It also made a point both for the good and bad. The Astros are the best team in MLB when their top three pitchers (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley) are on the mound, but they also need desperate help at the back end of their rotation.

Houston are 42-19 (.688 winning percentage) when those three are on the bump this year (Miley got the win on Thursday). That would be the best winning percentage in MLB. Without them, however, they are 19-19. That could be good enough to earn a wildcard spot in the National League (NL), but in the AL, it absolutely is not. So, Houston's top priority will be going after a pitcher at the deadline.

Who have the Astros been linked to? Just about everyone from Noah Syndergaard to Robbie Ray to Matthew Boyd to Madison Bumgarner. They could also be eyeing some under-the-radar players like Caleb Smith of the Miami Marlins.

The Astros have to add and the past 20 games are a perfect example why. Houston are 11-2 with their top three on the mound and 2-5 in the others. In that time, the Athletics have cut significantly into Houston's lead atop the division. In this series against the Angels, the Astros went 0-2 with all other pitchers and 2-0 with Cole and Miley.

 

Splendid Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg was good on the mound in the Washington Nationals' 13-4 win over the Atlanta Braves as he tossed 5.1 innings while allowing three earned runs. He also went three for three at the plate with a three-run homer and five RBIs.

Chris Sale struck out 12 in six scoreless innings while allowing two hits in a 5-0 Boston Red Sox win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Goldschmidt goes hitless

Paul Goldschmidt went 0 for four with four strikeouts but the St Louis Cardinals did come away with a 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

 

Cain's catch

Lorenzo Cain made a difficult catch look remarkably easy.

Thursday's results

Miami Marlins 4-3 San Diego Padres
Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 Los Angeles Dodgers
Boston Red Sox 5-0 Toronto Blue Jays
Kansas City Royals 6-5 Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees 6-2 Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees 5-1 Tampa Bay Rays
St Louis Cardinals 7-4 Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Indians 6-3 Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals 13-4 Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins 6-3 Oakland Athletics
Houston Astros 6-2 Los Angeles Angels
Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 3-2 New York Mets

 

Athletics at Twins

This is an important game for several reasons. The Indians are charging hard at the Twins in the AL Central and the Athletics are not only trying to keep pace with the Astros, but they are also in the middle of a heated wildcard race. Every single game matters from here on out.