The Houston Astros used a long, double digit win streak last season to pull away in the AL West, en route to a World Series title. They are on yet another one this season, despite not pulling away with the division, it's still keeping them on top in the West. The Astros extended their win streak to 10 games on Saturday afternoon with a 10-2 rout of the Kansas City Royals. Dallas Keuchel earned his fourth win by throwing six innings of shutout baseball and striking out five, as the Astros' bats continue to give their hurlers plenty of run support. Max Stassi and Alex Bregman each hit three-run home runs in the 100-degree weather, while Jose Altuve helped them get off to a hot start with a two-run double in the first. Houston has now won the first nine games of their road trip, as they inch closer to their franchise-long win streak of 12 games. Their 11-game streak last year was coincidentally ended on the road against the Kansas City Royals, but this year Houston has already recorded the best road trip in franchise history. On Saturday, Keuchel overcame a rough stretch that saw him give up 17 runs combined over his previous three outings. His last win came on May 13th against the Texas Rangers. On the other side, the Royals have dropped five in a row and fell to 2-12 in the month of June. Danny Duffy had a rare struggle in his seventh loss, giving up seven runs on seven hits in six innings. The series finale will feature Lance McCullers Jr. going up against Brad Keller on Sunday afternoon.
LeBlanc, Mariners Shutout Red Sox at Home
The Seattle Mariners are the reason that the Astros' recent win streak is not enough for them to pull away in the AL West, as the M's once again kept pace with them on Saturday. Wade LeBlanc went 7.2 innings and struck out nine without walking a batter in a 1-0 shutout of the Boston Red Sox. Nelson Cruz's RBI single in the third inning was enough to help LeBlanc improve to a perfect 3-0 this season. The right-hander retired 22 batters in a row at one point after a Mookie Betts single, before Eduardo Nunez broke that up with a two-out single in the eighth. LeBlanc joined the Mariners' rotation in May and has posted a 2.06 ERA in nine starts since replacing Erasmo Ramirez in the starting five. Nunez's single knocked LeBlanc out of the game, as the starter left to a standing ovation from the Safeco Field crowd. Alex Colome got Mitch Moreland out to end the inning, followed by Edwin Diaz striking out the side in the ninth inning for his 27th save. The M's starter lasted longer than seven innings for the first time since 2011 as a member of the San Diego Padres. His nine strikeouts were the most since he struck out 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. Dee Gordon helped LeBlanc out at second base, with multiple diving stops to rob Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers of hits. Steven Wright suffered his first loss, and a tough one, as he allowed just the one run on five hits and struck out four over seven innings. Cruz's run-scoring single snapped Wright's streak of 25.1 scoreless innings, which beat out Oakland Athletics' starter Daniel Mengden's mark for longest of the season. These two teams will finish up the series, as the Red Sox hope to split on Sunday afternoon.
Cubs Stay Hot Against Struggling Cardinals
The Chicago Cubs are having a hard time keeping pace with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, but they know if they keep taking care of business, good things will come. Chicago stayed hot and finally gained a game on the Brew-Crew with a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. Following the Brewers' 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cubs sit just a half-game back for the top spot in the division. Addison Russell and Jason Heyward both went deep, while Ian Happ hit the go-ahead RBI double to break a 3-3 tie. Kyle Hendricks went six innings and gave up three runs on seven hits in his fifth win, snapping a personal career-high three-game losing streak. The Cubs trailed 2-0 at one point, before Kyle Schwarber got his team on the board with an RBI single. Happ's official go-ahead hit came off of Sam Tuivailala in the seventh, as the reliever suffered his second loss. That clutch hit gives Happ three hits, including a home run, in the past two games against St. Louis. Heyward also stayed hot with his 410-foot blast, as he is hitting .383 in the past 15 games. Russell's homer tied the game at two in the fourth inning and snapped Cardinals' starter Carlos Martinez's 47-inning homerless streak. Martinez gave up three runs on seven hits and walked six through five innings, which consisted of 98 pitches. It was just the third start for the hurler since returning from a lat strain. Marcell Ozuna was the lone bright spot for the Cards with a two-run home run in the first, which extended his home run streak to three games and his RBI streak to a career high seven games. St. Louis has dropped four in a row and now sit five games back in the Central, as they will host the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball.