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Astros Crawfish Boil: July 17, 2015

The second half begins, and the push for the playoffs intensifies.

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Dallas Keuchel at the All-Star Game
Dallas Keuchel at the All-Star Game
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros News:

Our long national nightmare is over... today there will be baseball! The Astros open a six game homestand today, as they look to compete for the AL West title. They start the second half a half game behind the Los Angeles Angels, and are currently in the 2nd wildcard spot. On to the links!

A.J. Hinch says Astros look refreshed, ready for second half; Jed Lowrie gets in some hacks - Ultimate Astros
Lowrie could be a key contributor to the Astros in the second half.

TEX vs. HOU - 07/17/2015
Colin McHugh will get the start in the Astros first game back from the All-Star break. The Astros are hoping he can repeat last year's strong second half performance.

Long-suffering Astros finally back in contention
Let's keep remembering this rather than the losses before the All-Star break.

Craig Biggio, family counting down the days until emotional Hall of Fame induction - Ultimate Astros

Biggio preps for his big day at the Hall of Fame.

Favored Kansas City Royals, upstart Houston Astros have Las Vegas concerned
Ok, who has their Astros to win the AL West betting slip ready?

Around the Major Leagues:

HBT First-Half Awards: American League Cy Young | HardballTalk
TCB supports Aaron Gleeman's ballot over Craig Calcaterra.

Five keys to All-Star Game: Mike Trout and much more
The All-Star Game was a close, interesting game until the American League broke it up open late. Here are five key moments.

New Order: What’s Behind the Sudden Surge in Pitchers Batting Eighth? "
Grantland's Ben Lindbergh looks it why the trend is to bat pitchers eighth in the National League.

Top storylines to watch in the second half |
Can't wait for the games to start again.