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Preview: Astros at Athletics

The Oakland Athletics are an American League-best 10-5 and lead the AL by a wide margin with a 2.57 ERA, and Sonny Gray is a big reason. Gray, the 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft, tries for his fourth straight quality start to open 2014 when Oakland begins a three-game series against the visiting Houston Astros on Friday. “I still don’t think we’ve seen his best game yet,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters after Gray defeated 3-1 at Seattle on Saturday as his ERA rose to 0.95.

Preview: Angels at Astros

The Los Angeles Angels are coming off a disappointing season and are in danger of falling into an early hole again this year. Losers of four of their first six games, the Angels hope to avoid falling to the Houston Astros for a second straight day when the teams square off Monday afternoon. Host Houston lost the first two contests of the four-game series before hitting five home runs in Sunday's 7-4 triumph.

Houston Astros - PlayerWatch

SS Jonathan Villar singled up the middle for two RBIs in the ninth inning Monday then scored on an error to cap Houston's four-run rally. Villar finished the game 1-for-4 and is 6-for-18 over the last four games.

Houston Astros - PlayerWatch

SS Jonathan Villar tied a career high with three hits in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Toronto. All three of the hits were singles, including one bunt in the second inning. Sunday marked his third career three-hit game (his last one being on Aug. 15 at Oakland), and he has six multi-hit games this season.

Houston Astros - PlayerWatch

C Max Stassi was called up from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he was hitting .277 with 17 homers and 60 RBI. Stassi, 22, is one of the top catching prospects in baseball. He was the Texas League player of the month in July after hitting .333 with 11 homers and 24 RBI. LF Robbie Grossman extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 2-for-4 effort Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers. Grossman has four multi-hit games in his last six games, hitting .361 (13-for-36).

Preview: Astros at Rangers

The Texas Rangers have controlled Houston all season but really rolled it up on the visiting Astros in the opener of their three-game set. Texas scored a season-best 16 runs – including 11 in the third inning – to improve to 12-2 against Houston this season entering Tuesday’s contest. The victory was the 16th in 20 games for the Rangers, who hold a half-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

Preview: Astros at Twins

The Minnesota Twins have dropped four in a row and six of eight, but they'll receive little sympathy from the major league-worst Houston Astros. The struggling American League clubs look to alter their fortunes on Friday in the opener of a three-game set in Minnesota. The Twins, who finished July with a disappointing 9-17 mark, were outscored 18-7 en route to getting swept by the red-hot Kansas City Royals.

Houston Astros - PlayerWatch

SS Jonathan Villar made his first major league start and batted first Monday after being recalled by Houston from Triple-A Oklahoma City Sunday. Villar, who hit .278 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs at Oklahoma City, went 1-for-4 in his debut. He beat out a drag bunt in the third for his first major league hit and came around to score. "You feel excited when you are told you're being called up for the first time, but you have to control that excitement and that emotion," Villar said. "Because if you get here too excited, things might unfold differently."

Preview: Athletics at Astros

The American League West-leading Oakland Athletics look to continue their dominance over the host Houston Astros when the division rivals meet for the second contest of their three-game set Tuesday. Oakland improved to 10-0 against Houston this season and 15-1 in the all-time series when it rallied for a 4-3 victory Monday. Josh Reddick completed the comeback from a 3-0 deficit with a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Athletics maintained their three-game lead over Texas.

Houston Astros - PlayerWatch

SS Jonathan Villar made his first major league start and batted first Monday after being recalled by Houston from Triple-A Oklahoma City Sunday. Villar, who hit .278 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs at Oklahoma City, went 1-for-4 in his debut. He beat out a drag bunt in the third for his first major league hit and came around to score. "You feel excited when you are told you're being called up for the first time, but you have to control that excitement and that emotion," Villar said. "Because if you get here too excited, things might unfold differently."
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