The 2011 schedule is released. And there was much rejoicing

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Next year’s entire schedule — sans the still-possible Diamondbacks-Giants series in Taiwan — has been released. Here’s the actual schedule. Here’s some verbiage from MLB.com talking about how glorious it is.  And I suppose it might be glorious in places, but really dudes, it’s just a schedule.

The most notable thing about it is the early start — March 31st — and the early end — September 28th — which was designed to avoid November baseball.  If we can avoid those more frequent late March-early April snow storms it will be just spiffy.  The All-Star Game is July 12th. Which is kind of a drag because that means there are real games that count on my birthday — July 14th — and rather than hosting some self-centered bacchanalia, I’ll be reading box scores and writing snarky And That Happened entries. Sigh.

I do very much like the Thursday afternoon start, though.  It’s way better to knock off the end of the week than the beginning, so we can all treat Opening Day (and The Day After Opening Day) as a national holiday and go have beers and watch baseball in downtown bars as God and Nature intended.

Final question: is it bad that, after writing that, I’m more excited for Opening Day 2011 right now than I am for today’s games and the remainder of the pennant race?

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.