Look at what Brandon Phillips has started !
Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel responded to a heckling fan in Oakland not with his mouth, but with a baseball. Keuchel tossed this to the heckler:
A ball @kidkeuchy tossed to a heckler sitting next to me #Astros #Athletics pic.twitter.com/rnZg5jRLwD — Nick Wong (@nickw888) July 24, 2014
Well played, Dallas, well played. 
Phillips, the Cincinnati Reds second baseman, gave a signed ball to a drunken heckler in Pittsburgh last month, telling him to “shut up.” Keuchel’s ball probably isn’t as cool as Phillips’ (there’s no signature), but it’s still a clever retort that’s turned into a cool piece of memorabilia. 
The trouble with these types of keepsakes, though, is when the owner shows it off, he has to admit that he was being a butthead toward a baseball player. 
Kuechel, in case you’re wondering, is making $508,000 this season, a smidge above the MLB minimum. That works out to $3,135 per game.
BLS H/N : Hardball Talk
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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 25th, 2014
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The Oakland Athletics brought Jim Johnson into the game Wednesday night against the Houston Astros with a seven-run lead in the top of the eighth inning. He had six outs to get and everybody could go home happy. Everybody, including the A’s fans who had grown to despise him.
Six outs. Seven-run lead. Easy enough, right?
Well, nothing’s been easy this season for Johnson, the reigning AL saves leader who was traded to Oakland last winter from the Baltimore Orioles and paid $10 million by the usually payroll-stingy A’s. Oakland fans booed him his very first game. He lost his closer job soon after. Heck, fans have even booed his wife this season. 
So when Johnson came in Wednesday night and gave up four runs without getting a single Astros batter out, it was obvious this failed relationship needed to be put out of its misery. Johnson and the A’s were, simply, a disaster. 
The A’s designated Johnson for assignment Thursday, meaning his time with the team is done. The A’s now have 10 days to trade him, release him, place him on waivers or get Johnson to accept a minor-league assignment. The last one won’t happen. A trade is possible, but Johnson clearing waivers and becoming a free agent is the most likely scenario.

Johnson left before speaking with reporters. Best wishes to him. Have to think a change of scenery can only help at this point.
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) July 24, 2014

Melvin on Johnson: “I feel awful about it, because it’s my job to get him in a position to succeed. It just didn’t happen here.”
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) July 24, 2014
Given the desire for bullpen help in baseball these days, Johnson will likely have suitors waiting. The Marlins were reportedly interested in him already. The Tigers are obviously rebuilding their bullpen , so they could nose around. The Royals, Pirates and Blue Jays are all teams who have been interested in bolstering their bullpen, though they haven’t been linked specifically to Johnson.
Johnson accumulated a 6.92 ERA in Oakland this season in 38 appearances with just two saves. By comparison, he had a 2.94 ERA last season with a league-high 50 saves for the Orioles. He saved a league-high 51 games in 2012 as well. Teams will look at those past number and think they can fix him, build him back into an effective pitcher again. Maybe so.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jim Johnson flourish elsewhere. For whatever reason, he just didn’t quite fit with #Athletics . — Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 24, 2014
For the A’s, this was a rare bust. The A’s aren’t usually the team to take on an overpriced player from another team, but they tried it with Johnson and savvy GM Billy Beane absolutely whiffed. Johnson’s $10 million salary made him the second-highest paid player on Oakland’s meager $82 million payroll. Only Yoenis Cespedes made more money, $500,000 more to be exact.
The not-so-bad part for Oakland (62-38, best in MLB) is that Johnson’s decline didn’t hurt them too much. They were quick to yank him out of the closer role, going first to a closer-by-committee system then eventually giving the job to Sean Doolittle, who has been stellar. The A’s bullpen is stacked, so it could withstand the hit of having to use Johnson in non-pressure situations and now losing him altogether.
It’s obvious for both the A’s and Johnson that this move is for the best — like a couple breaking up when it never should have been together in the first place. 
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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 24th, 2014
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Yoenis Cespedes flashed his Home Run Derby form Wednesday night. The Oakland left fielder hit two homers and drove in a career-high-tying five runs, leading the A’s to a 9-7 victory against the Houston Astros at the O.co Coliseum. The question now for the A’s is whether Cespedes will be able to play Thursday in the finale of the three-game series. Cespedes, who won the All-Star Home Run Derby on July 14 for the second consecutive year, snapped a career-high-tying 25-game homerless streak, but he sprained his right thumb in his third at-bat.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 24th, 2014
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With the All-Star Game and the first closer trade in the rearview, it’s time to some good old fashioned closer talk.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 23rd, 2014
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Left fielder L.J. Hoes lined a tie-breaking solo home run with one out in the top of the 12th inning, and the Houston Astros held on for a 3-2 victory Tuesday night against the Oakland A’s at the O.co Coliseum. Hoes ripped left-handed reliever Fernando Abad’s first pitch to left field for his third home run of the season. Astros right-hander Chad Qualls pitched a perfect 12th for his 11th save of the season. The Astros beat the A’s for the third straight time, a franchise first.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 23rd, 2014
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Houston finally strung together some key hits against the Chicago White Sox, and the Astros needed all of them in the finale of a three-game series Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. The Astros pounded out 17 hits, had three big rallies and still had to sweat it out in the late stages of an 11-7 win that prevented a White Sox sweep. After two sixth-inning errors and a shaky bullpen contributed to a blown four-run lead, Houston (41-58) answered in the seventh with four runs on four hits against right-hander Daniel Webb (5-3). “That right there speaks to the character of the guys in this clubhouse,” Houston manager Bo Porter said.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 22nd, 2014
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Even with three errors, the Houston Astros managed to beat the Chicago White Sox 11-7 Sunday. Matt Dominguez hit a two-run homer and a tiebreaking RBI double, and the Astros tied their season high with 17 hits as they prevented a three-game sweep. Second baseman Jose Altuve made a pair of errors and first baseman Jon Singleton had one, with each infielder allowing a grounder through his legs. ”It was nice to go out there and get a win like that.” Chicago fell behind 4-0 early and tied the score 7-all in the sixth on Alexei Ramirez’s RBI double, Jose Abreu’s run-scoring single and a run-scoring two-out grounder by Dayan Viciedo that went Altuve’s legs for Houston’s second error of the inning.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 22nd, 2014
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(Reuters) – Matt Cain’s injury-plagued season took another downturn on Monday when the San Francisco Giants pitcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, mlb.com reported. Cain, the Giants’ highest-paid player with a $20 million salary, has already made two previous appearances on the disabled list this season because of a cut finger and a hamstring injury. The three-time All-Star, who pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros in June 2012, will be replaced by right-hander Yusmeiro Petit in Tuesday’s starting lineup against the Phillies in Philadelphia. In another blow for the Giants, who are tied for first place in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team also announced on Monday that first baseman Brandon Belt has been put on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 21st, 2014
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Jose Abreu continues to swing a hot bat for the Chicago White Sox, but he’s rapidly approaching his career high for games played in one season. After missing 14 games with an ankle injury, Abreu played his 85th game for the White Sox on Sunday in an 11-7 loss to the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 21st, 2014
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Even the Chicago White Sox relievers don’t know who will get the ball in the ninth inning. Zach Putnam has had the last two chances, and made the most of them. Putnam earned his third save and second in two nights, striking out Jason Castro swinging to end the game with two on and give the White Sox a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night. ”We don’t know from game to game who is going to have that ninth if it’s a save opportunity.” The White Sox have had no steady closer after Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom were injured, and Ronald Belisario struggled in the role.

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Post info: By HoustonAstrosFan on July 20th, 2014
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