After the Houston Astros got walked off by the Detroit Tigers last night despite Framber Valdez throwing seven no-hit innings, they now find themselves in an uncomfortable position after a tough week. Thanks to the Mariners getting red hot of late, Houston now has two teams ahead of them in the division (although by just a single game) and are currently residing in the last wild card spot. While being the final wild card to get in could be the preferred playoff seed this year, it also makes the Astros' playoff chances more tenuous with the Blue Jays lurking just 1.5 games back.
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Martin Maldonado has been the focus of a lot of ire in 2023 as his quantifiable production has dropped off a cliff this season. However, the Astros have been steadfast in sticking with him this season thanks to a host of intangible gifts that Maldonado has as a primary catcher. For better or worse, it sounds like Dusty Baker isn't going to be decreasing Maldonado's playing time anytime soon.
In better news, it seems like Michael Brantley's rehab is finally going according to plan as he played in back-to-back games for the first time during Brantley went out on rehab assignment. It is hard to say when Brantley could actually be back in the majors this season as well as how productive he will be coming off of shoulder surgery, but we are going to need answers soon since the season is winding down and he is a free agent this offseason.
Elsewhere in the league, the Angels got awful news this week when Shohei Ohtani tore his UCL and will not pitch the rest of the season. However, he is still hitting for the moment and his bat still seems to be working okay as he mashed a hard-hit double and walked three times against the Mets last night.
Mookie Betts also made his long awaited return to Fenway Park last night when the Dodgers came to town. The Boston faithful made sure to show him some love with a lengthy and loud ovation during his first at-bat. Always nice to see fans appreciate their former players especially when it was clear that he was definitely not the cause of his departure.