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The Astros are hanging on but the Angels are surging

Monday's Say Hey, Baseball includes the Astros and Angels race for the Wild Card, Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper and the return of Brad Ausmus. Subscribe for your daily Say Hey!

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

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The Astros took their weekend series against the Rangers, but they still lost ground to the Angels in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot. Los Angeles has won five in a row, are 8-2 in their last 10 games, and are now 16-8 in the month of September: this has gained them seven games on the Astros in just a few weeks' time, and they now sit only a half-game back of Houston.

That half-game is in the Astros' favor at the moment given the way they've played lately, as it's one fewer game they can lose in the next seven days. They also get to face the Mariners (74-82 and in fourth in the AL West) and then the Diamondbacks (75-81) to close out the year, while the Angels get the A's (the AL's worst record) and the AL West-leading Rangers in a four-game set to finish their own. So, the Astros have a slim lead, but they also have the schedule advantage -- how much that matters over a week is hard to measure, but at this point, they'll take anything in their favor.

Mike Trout has been at the forefront of the Angels' resurgence, as he's batting .306/.413/.635 this month and doing a tremendous job of pushing himself back into the MVP conversation with Josh Donaldson, who about a month ago was starting to look like the guy. The Angels will need him to keep it up over the next week, especially with Texas looming on the schedule, and with the Twins still somehow just a game back of Los Angeles to boot.

  • Jonathan Papelbon choked Bryce Harper in the dugout after Harper didn't run out a popup. That's not really why Papelbon did it, of course: Papelbon just needed an excuse to get back at Harper for Bryce's anti-HBP takes. It's cool how the mature one in this situation is the 22-year-old, and yet, anonymous players believe Papelbon was in the right here. They can believe that all they want, but it doesn't make their beliefs less idiotic.

  • I'd say "Come at me, bros" but I just complained about players' actions in the media, so they might decide to choke me as retribution.

  • It's worth pointing out that even Papelbon admits he was in the wrong here, and yet, there are defenses of him.

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  • So it turns out Brad Ausmus isn't getting fired after all, which likely means general manager Al Avila convinced owner Mike Ilitch to stay his manager-axing hand.

  • Rob Rogacki writes that there is no reason to be mad about Ausmus' return to Detroit, as it won't fix the Tigers, but it's not dooming them, either.

  • Ben Revere isn't known for his power, so it's no wonder he failed to properly lift a cooler full of water during a walkoff celebration and doused himself instead.

  • The Cardinals and Pirates both have a shot at 100 wins and the NL Central, so let's see where they stand as they prepare to match up head-to-head for the final time in 2015's regular season.

  • Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will headline the Mets' postseason rotation.

  • This is the time of year the White Sox usually announce the return of their managers and broadcasters, so [listens closely] ...

  • Marco Estrada is going to be a fun pitcher to figure out over the next couple of seasons.

  • The Yankees are going for their 10,000th victory as a franchise, and in the most fitting way possible as they take on the Red Sox for four games this week. The games matter more than just for that, though: New York is still trying to catch the Blue Jays in the east, and the Red Sox have a chance to jump from last to third place thanks to their strong final two months.