The Astros are for sale

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Mark Cuban and Jim Crane, please call your office . . .

Astros owner Drayton McLane has retained the services of the investment bank Allen & Company to assist in the sale of the team, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement.

McLane, who could not be reached for comment Thursday night, has owned the Astros since 1992. Having entertained on and off for at least a couple of years the idea of selling, he has ramped up efforts recently.

McLane has toyed with selling the Astros in the past, but you don’t hire an investment bank if you’re toying.  He really wants to sell this time.  Maury has more details over at the Biz of Baseball. The upshot, though: McLane wants around $800 million. Any purchase of the team would include a stake in the newly created regional sports network CSN Houston.  Bonus: no one is bankrupt this time, so any sale would likely take less than nine months and multiple rounds of litigation.

Which means this won’t be much fun at all, sadly.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.