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Astros Crawfish Boil: September 23rd, 2015

A look at the ever changing AL playoff picture and other news from around baseball.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Astros News:

Houston Astros show not all playoff contenders are built alike
Forget what you know about playoff teams: Tom Verducci says the Houston Astros are here to prove you wrong in their unlikely run to a postseason spot.

Carlos Gomez availability vs Rangers uncertain
Astros manager A.J. Hinch is concerned about center fielder Carlos Gomez's availability for the upcoming series with the American League West-leading Rangers, as the non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition continues to recover from a mild intercostal strain that's kept him out of Houston's last nine games.

Rangers alter pitching schedules for upcoming series with Astros
The Rangers revised their rotation Tuesday for the three-game weekend series at Minute Maid Park, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the Astros will remain on their normal rotation for the series.

Marwin Gonzalez returns to lineup after hand and wrist injuries kept him out 8 games
Marwin Gonzalez, who has been suffering from left hand and wrist injuries that sidelined him for seven of the previous eight games, returned to the lineup Tuesday in left field and batting right-handed against Angels left-handed starter Hector Santiago.

Watch: Astros' Orbit gets Mike Trout to sign autograph using...a trout?
Mike Trout is a good sport. Check it out as Orbit has some good natured fun with the Angels star outfielder.

Astros will start assistant GM search in offseason, says Luhnow

Stearns, 30, vacated his position with the Astros as assistant GM to Jeff Luhnow to fill the opening in Milwaukee.

The AL Playoff Picture:

Postseason Picture |
Here's a look at what the MLB postseason bracket would look like if the regular season ended as of Sept. 22, 2015.

Yankees clip Jays on Greg Bird's homer in 10th
Greg Bird hit a three-run homer in the top of the 10th inning as the Yankees pulled within 2 1/2 games of first place in the American League East with a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. New York also pulled four games ahead of the Astros for the first AL Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays remain 1 1/2 games behind the Royals for the top spot in the AL after Kansas City lost, 11-2, to Seattle.

Mike Trout, Albert Pujols lead Angels to win
Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning off Astros starter Lance McCullers and made them stand up to give the Angels a much-needed 4-3 win on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Twins hold off Indians behind strong Santana

Ervin Santana continued his impressive run, tossing seven-plus strong innings to outduel Danny Salazar to lift the Twins to a 3-1 win over the Indians on Tuesday night at Target Field. With the win, the Twins improved to 77-73 and are two games back of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Mariners club Royals behind five home runs

Robinson Cano blasted two homers and the Mariners had five round-trippers total to support right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma in an 11-2 bashing of the Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. Cano homered in the first and hit a three-run homer in the third off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, who was lit up for nine hits and eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his first start returning to the rotation.

Rangers push division lead to 2 with win over Oakland
Oakland couldn't hold onto an early 4-1 lead against the division leading Texas Rangers, ultimately falling by a final score of 8-6.

A Couple of NL Storylines:

The Role of Context in Determining the Best
Here’s a statement that I’m guessing will stir a little debate: the Washington Nationals are having the best season in the National League East.

Does It Matter Who You Beat On the Way to the Playoffs?

With the playoffs looming, it’s easy to speculate. Once October rolls around, only good teams are left. It seems like the team that’s been better against good teams should stand a better chance. Does this mean anything for the Blue Jays and Mets? Below, I can provide not necessarily the answer, but certainly an answer.

The 2015 NL Central staking claim as best division in MLB history

No division has ever had the three best records in the majors, but the NL Central does with less than two weeks to play.