Álvarez Homers Twice, Astros Win 10th Straight

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Yordan Álvarez clobbered a pair of home runs Thursday afternoon, leading the Astros to their 10th consecutive victory with a 5-0 win over the Twins at Target Field in Minnesota. The 24-year-old fantasy superstar launched a two-run homer to center field off righty Josh Winder in the third inning and also added a colossal solo shot to right field against reliever Cole Sands in the ninth inning to record his 10th career multi-homer performance. He's been one of the hottest hitters in baseball this season, recording a stratospheric .276/.370/.612 triple-slash line with 20 runs scored, 10 home runs and 19 RBI across 116 plate appearances.

The Astros’ sizzling-hot lineup erupted for a season-high 15 hits in a blowout 11-3 victory in the front-end of Thursday’s twin bill, a contest that was originally suspended in the fourth inning Wednesday evening. It was right-hander Luis Garcia that did the heavy lifting in the nightcap, scattering five hits and a pair of walks, while also matching a season-high with nine strikeouts across five scoreless innings. The 25-year-old right-hander generated an eye-popping 16 swinging strikes and finished with a robust 32 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He's morphed into a potential upper-echelon fantasy contributor this season, recording a stellar 2.94 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 37/9 K/BB ratio across 33 2/3 innings (six starts). He's in line for a tasty road matchup Wednesday against a struggling Red Sox' lineup in Fenway Park.

The only downside for Houston came when dynamic rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña was removed from the second game of Thursday's doubleheader with right knee discomfort. The 24-year-old infielder has been on a roll lately, tallying an absurd 13 hits in 33 at-bats over 10 games since May 1. He’s considered day-to-day for the moment, but will likely require a few days off to rest and recover. The scorching-hot Astros will chase their 11th straight victory Friday evening when they square off against the Nationals in the opener of a three-game road series.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Dylan Cease vs. Yankees

4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 11 K

40% CSW, 20 swinging strikes

Cease put together one of the most bizarre pitching performances in recent memory Thursday evening, as he was lit up for six runs over four innings, while also matching a season-high with 11 strikeouts. He induced an astronomical 20 swinging strikes and finished with an absurd 40 percent CSW. It was either the best worst start of the year or the worst best start of the season. There’s no other way to describe it, folks. The 26-year-old righty was fortunate to escape with a no-decision and will carry a solid 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 58/15 K/BB ratio across 38 innings (seven starts) into a favorable road tilt Tuesday against the Royals.

Steven Matz vs. Orioles

6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

29% CSW, 14 swinging strikes

Matz was moved up a day to take the ball Thursday afternoon against the Orioles and responded with his best outing of the season. The 30-year-old left-hander surrendered a pair of solo home runs, but managed to record a season-high seven strikeouts and didn’t hand out a free pass. He’ll look to keep the momentum going Tuesday when he faces his former team in New York.

Taijuan Walker vs. Nationals

7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

21% CSW, 6 swinging strikes

Walker delivered his strongest performance of the 2022 campaign on Thursday afternoon, blanking the Nationals for seven innings to pick up his first win of the season. The 29-year-old righty wasn’t overpowering, as evidenced by just one strikeout in this one, but he limited Washington’s lineup to just three hits and one walk over seven frames. He’ll carry a solid 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 8/5 K/BB ratio across 18 innings (four starts) into a home matchup Tuesday against the Cardinals.

Hitters with an EDGE

Giancarlo Stanton vs. White Sox

3-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR (8, 9), 6 RBI, BB

Stanton crushed a pair of two-run homers Thursday evening against White Sox’ starter Dylan Cease, propelling the Yankees to an eventual blowout victory in Chicago. It was his first multi-homer effort of the season. The 32-year-old slugger has gone deep a whopping five times in his last nine games since May 1. He also added a two-run single off lefty reliever Tanner Banks in the eighth inning, just for good measure.

Aaron Judge vs. White Sox

2-for-4, 3 R, HR (11), 4 RBI, BB

Judge clobbered his major league-leading 11th home run of the season, a gargantuan 456-foot moonshot to left field, off righty reliever Ryan Burr in the seventh inning. He also delivered a tie-breaking two-run single off reliever Joe Kelly in the eighth inning and tacked on an RBI sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. The 30-year-old impending free agent has gone deep 10 times over his last 17 games since April 22. He’s hitting .296/.359/.635 with 23 runs scored, 11 home runs, 26 RBI and two stolen bases across 128 plate appearances.

Tyler Stephenson vs. Pirates

3-for-4, 2 R, HR (4), 2 RBI

Stephenson supplied the only offensive for the Reds in the early stages of Thursday evening's low-scoring affair, poking an RBI single to center field off Pirates' starter JT Brubaker in the second inning before walloping a solo shot to left field -- his fourth long ball of the season -- in the fourth inning. He also singled and scored a run in the eighth inning. The 25-year-old backstop has been one of the few bright spots this season for Cincinnati, slashing .349/.417/.619 with 13 runs scored, four homers, 19 RBI and one stolen base in 72 plate appearances.

Mark Canha vs. Nationals

3-for-4, 2 R, HR (2), 3 RBI

Canha’s unexpected signing was overshadowed during the Mets’ blizzard of activity during the offseason, but he’s done nothing but hit since arriving in New York. The 33-year-old veteran outfielder matched a season-high with three hits Thursday afternoon, including a ninth-inning solo homer off veteran righty reliever Steve Cishek. He also kicked off the scoring earlier in the contest with a two-run single to left field in the opening frame. He’s off to a strong start offensively this season, hitting .313/.376/.398 with 10 runs scored, two homers and 12 RBI across 93 plate appearances.

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Closing Time

Dany Jiménez vs. Tigers

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (6th save)

Jiménez was summoned to protect a two-run lead Thursday afternoon against the Tigers and needed just 12 pitches (eight strikes) to slam the door in a perfect frame, collecting his sixth save of the season. The 28-year-old righty has established himself as the Athletics’ primary stopper moving forward, even with Lou Trivino back in the mix for saves. He's converted all six of his save opportunities this season while allowing just two runs on eight hits with a 15/5 K/BB ratio across 13 innings of work.

Félix Bautista vs. Cardinals

1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (2nd save)

Bautista recorded the final four outs of the Orioles’ one-run victory over the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon to notch his second save of the season. The hard-throwing 26-year-old rookie right-hander has been a revelation in Baltimore, compiling a microscopic 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 16/5 K/BB ratio across 14 innings. He's proven that he's capable of handling the ninth inning if the organization elects to move away from more experienced stopper Jorge López at some point later this season. He’s worthy of a speculative roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.

Joe Barlow vs. Royals

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (6th save)

Barlow coughed up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Ryan O'Hearn, but managed to whiff Michael A. Taylor and get Nicky Lopez to ground out before walking MJ Melendez to put the tying runs on-base. He managed to coax a game-ending ground out from Whit Merrifield to extinguish the threat. The 26-year-old righty has converted all six of his save opportunities this season.

EDGE Priority Pickup

Kyle Bradish, SP, Orioles

Bradish was extremely impressive in his previous start Tuesday against the Cardinals, allowing two runs on four hits with 11 strikeout and zero walks over seven innings. The 25-year-old righty has an extensive track record of missing bats in the minors and is lined up to face the strikeout-prone Yankees on Monday his next time out. He's at least worthy of a speculative roster spot for fantasy managers in shallow mixed leagues moving forward.

Friday’s Matchup of the Day

Corbin Burnes (Brewers) vs. Pablo López (Marlins) - 6:40 PM ET

Seriously, you don’t need me to sell this one, right? Burnes, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, doesn’t need any additional hype. However, López has arguably been the senior circuit’s best pitcher during the first few weeks of the 2022 campaign, compiling a sublime 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 35/8 K/BB ratio across 36 innings (six starts). This is a must-watch pitcher’s duel, folks.

American League Quick Hits: Ryan Mountcastle (wrist) was held out of the Orioles’ lineup Thursday for the second consecutive game. … White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters Thursday that Andrew Vaughn (hand) is unlikely to return until next week. … Twins activated INF Luis Arraez from the COVID-19 injured list. … Jorge Lopez will be activated from the bereavement list prior to Friday’s game against the Tigers. … Mariners acquired INF Mike Ford from the Giants for cash considerations. … Yankees signed RHP Danny Salazar to a minor league contract. … Josh Donaldson swatted a three-run homer in the Yankees’ win over the White Sox. … Brad Miller went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in the Rangers’ victory over the Royals. … Seth Brown slugged a tie-breaking two run homer, leading the Athletics to a win over the Tigers. … Jorge Mateo and Anthony Bemboom belted solo homers in the Orioles’ victory over the Cardinals. … Yoán Moncada drilled a three-run homer in the White Sox’ loss to the Yankees. … Salvador Perez hit an RBI single in the Royals’ loss to the Rangers. … Spencer Torkelson walked twice and scored a run in the Tigers’ loss to the Athletics. … Taylor Hearn tossed five scoreless innings Thursday in a win over the Royals. … James Kaprielian yielded two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers. … Beau Brieske was charged with three runs (two earned) over six innings in a no-decision against the Athletics. … Luis Gil allowed four runs over four innings in a no-decision against the White Sox. … Bryan Baker tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Cardinals. … Josh Winder was charged with four runs (three earned) over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Astros. … Jon Heasley allowed one run over 3 1/3 innings Thursday in a loss to the Rangers … A.J. Puk fired two scoreless innings to pick up a win in relief against the Tigers.

National League Quick Hits: Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters Thursday that Bryce Harper has a small tear in his right UCL. He’ll be limited to designated hitter for at least the next few weeks and won’t throw for at least a month. … Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported Thursday that the Padres are close to signing Robinson Canó to a major league contract. … Adam Wainwright (COVID-19) has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and will start Saturday or Sunday against the Giants. … Reds placed RHP Lucas Sims on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to May 11, with lower back spasms. … Cardinals activated INF Edmundo Sosa from the COVID-19 injured list. … Alcides Escobar (finger) remained absent from the Nationals' starting lineup Thursday against the Mets. … Jake Marisnick underwent left thumb surgery Thursday to repair an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament. … Pirates claimed RHP Tyler Beede off waivers from the Giants … Juan Soto went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Nationals’ loss to the Mets. … Dylan Carlson walloped a solo homer in the Cardinals’ loss to the Orioles. … Zack Wheeler recorded seven strikeouts and allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings in a win over the Dodgers. … Connor Overton fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Pirates. … JT Brubaker gave up two runs over five innings in a loss to the Reds. … Joan Adon walked five batters and surrendered three runs over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Mets. … Tyler Anderson was shelled for seven runs over six innings in a loss to the Phillies.