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Astros' Charlie Morton well rested for Game 4 start vs. Red Sox

Astros' Charlie Morton well rested for Game 4 start vs. Red Sox

Sports
HOUSTON -- Like staff mate Dallas Keuchel but to an even greater extent, Houston right-hander Charlie Morton has been more observer than participant in recent weeks because of the Astros' success combined with off days that are part of the annual postseason schedule. When Morton starts Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park with the Astros trailing 2-1 in the series, it will be his first appearance since Sept. 30. Morton toed the rubber in the regular-season finale against the Baltimore Orioles and worked just three innings by design, capping an odd final month that saw him limited to 15 innings in four starts because of lingering right shoulder discomfort. Given the confluence of his extended break and those health...
Orioles don't get break facing Astros' No. 5 starter

Orioles don't get break facing Astros' No. 5 starter

Sports
The offseason acquisition of right-hander Gerrit Cole was orchestrated to fortify an already stout Astros rotation, one that when fully armed, had the option of utilizing versatile right-hander Brad Peacock in a complementary role en route to the 2017 World Series title. On Sunday against Texas, Cole made his Astros debut and, for at least one start, validated the decision of Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, working seven strong innings in an 8-2 victory that clinched the four-game series. Cole surrendered one run on two hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts, growing stronger as his outing progressed and capping a collective performance by the Houston rotation that should give the rest of the American League pause. Cole followed right-hander Justin Verlander, left-hander Dallas Keuch...
Houston Astros' Francis Martes could be headed to minors

Houston Astros' Francis Martes could be headed to minors

Sports
HOUSTON -- Houston rookie right-hander Francis Martes will make his fourth start of the season on Saturday against the New York Yankees, an outing that could be the last in the majors for the Astros' top prospect in the foreseeable future. With right-hander Charlie Morton set to return from the 10-day disabled list next week in Toronto following a month-long rehab from a right lat strain, Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA) is the likely candidate to cede a spot in the rotation and return to Triple-A Fresno, where he struggled with his command before making his debut on June 9. The Astros were ravaged by injuries to their pitching staff at the time, and while Martes, the youngest pitcher in the American League at 21 years, 198 days old, has scuffled, this experience should aid his development. "Like an...