Marlon Byrd feels targeted over his association with Victor Conte

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We’ve noted in the past that Marlon Byrd made the strange decision a couple of years ago to start working with fomer BALCO mastermind Victor Conte.  Since 2009, Conte has supplied Byrd with supplements. Byrd remains the only Major League Baseball player who works with Conte, and now, Bruce Levine reports, Byrd says that he feels the pressure about his strange association:

“I’m always going to watch what I take. I’m not going to say I have a bull’s-eye on my back, but I think a lot of people are waiting for me to get my first positive test and miss 50 games. They’d like that just so they can say, ‘We told you so.’ I know that won’t happen. I know I’m clean. I know the supplements I take are clean. I’m going to make sure of that.”

He’s always going to watch what he takes? He knows the supplements are clean?  That’s the real news here, because in past reports about Byrd and Conte, Byrd has made it a point to say that he never even asked Conte what was in the supplements he was given. Rather, he just trusted him. This is from Steve Henson’s Yahoo! column in 2009:

Conte has provided the Texas Rangers center fielder with a variety of pills and powders for 18 months. Not once has Byrd asked Conte whether any of it could trigger a positive drug test.

“I didn’t need to,” Byrd said. “From our conversations, there was no need to ask.”

What has changed since 2009, when Byrd was notably not incurious, and today’s quotes to Levine?  The only think I know of is that Major League Baseball raised a stink about the Byrd-Conte association, even though they were powerless to do anything about it.

Did this stink make Byrd start checking up on what his supplement provider is giving him? Or is he acting as he always did and merely wants to deflect the heat?

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.