No one has any idea when Jesse Crain might pitch for the Astros

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Jesse Crain is approaching one calendar year without pitching, with his last appearance coming on June 29 for the White Sox, which was two teams ago. Now he’s with the Astros and thanks to numerous setbacks in his recovery there’s still no timetable for his return from shoulder and biceps injuries.

Crain signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Astros this offseason and the plan was for him to step into the closer role, prove he’s healthy, and hit the open market again as a free agent.

Instead, here’s what general manager Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about Crain’s status:

Still working on the strengthening and recovering from weakness in his scap [right scapula muscle]. I don’t have a time frame. … I think right now since we’re in the middle of June you would have to assume that him coming back in June is probably not going to happen.

Well, yeah. As of May 2 the Astros were targeting a May 29 return for Crain. And before that they thought he might actually be ready for Opening Day.

Before the injury Crain was an All-Star for the White Sox in 2012, throwing 37 innings with a 0.74 ERA and 46/11 K/BB ratio, which is why the Rays and now the Astros were willing to take fliers on him knowing he might never actually pitch for them.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

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.