Kenshin Kawakami will return as a reliever, with rookie Mike Minor remaining in Braves' rotation

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Bobby Cox said yesterday that Kenshin Kawakami will be used as a reliever when he returns from his stint at Triple-A, which is no surprise given how impressive rookie Mike Minor has been in three starts since stepping into the rotation.
Minor, who was the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft out of Vanderbilt, has racked up 22 strikeouts versus just four walks in 18 innings since being called up earlier this month. He also had a 3.15 ERA and 163/46 K/BB ratio in 134 innings as a minor leaguer, so the 22-year-old southpaw figures to be in the Braves’ rotation for the next decade or so.
As for Kawakami, despite already making four starts at Triple-A he’s unlikely to rejoin the team until rosters expand on September 1. Prior to the demotion he pitched quite a bit better than his ugly 1-9 record, posting a 4.75 ERA and 57/28 K/BB ratio in 83.1 innings, but with Minor more than holding his own and the front four of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Derek Lowe set in stone there’s just no room for Kawakami.
Or as Cox put it: “We still need him, in case someone’s sick or whatever.”

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.