Jeff Luhnow believes the Astros will have a winning record in 2015

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After losing at least 106 games in three straight seasons, the Astros finished at 70-92 last season. It was a small step in the right direction, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sees more improvement on the way in 2015.

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Luhnow was a guest on MLB Network’s “High Heat” with Christopher Russo on Friday and said that he thinks the Astros will have a winning record this season.

“The Astros, in my opinion, are going to have a winning record this year,” Luhnow said. “I’ll go on record as saying that. I believe this is a winning team, and I think this is the beginning of many years of winning teams.”

The Astros acquired slugger Evan Gattis in a trade with the Braves this week and have also signed infielder Jed Lowrie and relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek this winter. Those additions have the potential to move the needle, but they’ll also need Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh to prove that their breakouts were for real and young players like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, and Brett Oberholtzer to progress. Still, after years of essentially tanking during their rebuilding process, there’s no question that things are looking up for the franchise.

The Astros haven’t had a winning record since they went 86-75 in 2008.

Ramon Laureano’s suspension reduced from 6 games to 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano had a six-game suspension reduced to four games Friday after appealing the penalty for his role in a benches-clearing brawl with the rival Houston Astros.

Major League Baseball said a settlement had been reached and the A’s were informed of the decision. Laureano was set to begin the four-game suspension Friday night and will miss a three-game weekend Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. After sitting out Monday at Arizona, he will be eligible to play Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in the fracas at Oakland last Sunday. Laureano also received a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory – the third time he got hit in the series and the fifth time overall for an A’s batter. Houston players weren’t plunked at all. He pointed at Castellanos and began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two teams in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.