The Astros may be sold soon

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Back in November, Astros owner Drayton McLane said that he was going to sell the Astros. On Friday he told MLB.com that he has made “substantial inroads” toward selling the team, with one of the three possible suitors being a familiar name: Houston businessman Jim Crane.

You may recall that Crane — along with Mark Cuban — came very close to snatching the Rangers away from Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan last summer.  As such, the first question that springs to mind in hearing Crane’s name mentioned is whether Cuban is also involved.  There have been no reports to that effect since this report surfaced on Friday, however. And it is worth noting that Crane has not required Cuban’s capital to get involved in bidding on sports teams before. Indeed, Crane came very close to buying the Astros when McLane was shopping the team following the 2008 season, but that deal fell through for nebulous reasons.

No one is sure who the other two ownership candidates McLane mentioned are. But Crane is local and that sort of thing usually sits well the types who can help or hinder deals like this. Given that his name has spilled out — and given that in-depth profiles are already being written about him in the local press — you kinda have to figure that he’s the front runner, no?

And yes, I know that this isn’t the current Astros logo, but I like it much, much better. Crane or whoever next owns the Astros can’t bring it back as such — they no longer play in the dome after all — but the orange and blue should come back, as should the caps with the “H” in the middle of the star. Because those things are Right and True.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.