Jose Altuve stole home in Friday night’s game against the Tigers

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The Astros are 35-46 in last place in the AL West entering Saturday’s action, but they’re actually in much better shape than we thought they’d be (they were 51-111 last season), and they’re actually a fun team to watch. Second baseman Jose Altuve is a big reason behind both of those.

Altuve is now hitting a league-leading .342 with a league-leading 32 stolen bases in 35 attempts. He’s had seven multi-hit games out of his last ten starts, and went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI last night. Oh, and also? He stole home.

According to Baseball Reference, it’s the second time in Altuve’s career that he’s stolen home.

While the Astros, stunningly, have several viable nominees (Dallas Keuchel, George Springer) to represent the club at this year’s All-Star Game at Target Field, Altuve should almost certainly get the honor if the Astros are to have only one representative. He may not start, however, as one can make an argument in favor of Ian Kinsler or Brian Dozier for starting honors. (Robinson Cano leads all American League second basemen in balloting by about 670,000 votes at the recent count.) Still, Altuve is having a fine season and has quickly become one of baseball’s most exciting players to watch.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.