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5 questions Bucs have answered on hot streak — The Pirates have won seven straight games to join a three-team party in the National League Central, a division in which three clubs -- the Cardinals, Cubs and Bucs -- are separated by 1 1/2 games. All three teams began this season with important questions. All had high expectations, too.

Banister steering Rangers' turnaround — 2. The team has strong clubhouse leadership. So I began a conversation with Rangers manager Jeff Banister on Thursday afternoon by asking how he held things together during a 7-15 start. "With chicken wire and spit," he said. And then he turned serious. He talked about pretty much starting over in Spring Training as a first-year manager.

Nats equipped to handle loss of Werth — The Washington Nationals just caught another lousy break with the news that Jayson Werth will be sidelined until around August with a broken left wrist. That's not their first piece of bad news this season. Probably won't be their last. Sometimes, teams get tested in ways they never imagined.

Twins' milestones have significance — Maybe all you need to know about the Minnesota Twins was on display in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday afternoon at Target Field. This would be the day the Twins would grab a share of first place in the American League Central, the day of another raucous clubhouse celebration after a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox.

Giants-Dodgers: The race we deserve — The Giants seem to have more rotation depth, and at the moment, that may be about the only difference. That advantage comes despite the emergence of right-hander Mike Bolsinger, who has been a godsend for Los Angeles.

The Astros are a joy, and dangerous — The Astros are an absolute joy to watch. That's surely one part of this season's sweetest and most improbable story. They have youth and energy, resilience and toughness. They have some confidence, too, growing day by day. Is there anything else? Yes, there is. They're a simple team in a lot of ways.

Many small strides add up to quicken pace — 2014: 3 hours, 2 minutes, 21 seconds 2015: 2 hours, 53 minutes, 19 seconds Playing games in less than three hours is an important benchmark for Commissioner Rob Manfred. While this may be only a first step, it's an encouraging one. This isn't a reflection of a decline in offense, either.

News | — Bryce Harper makes baseball better every single time he steps foot on the diamond. He's not just baseball's best player at the moment, although he's certainly that. He's also its most compelling. Harper's every at-bat has become must-watch television. No player is quicker or stronger. No player is more confident.

Not all is lost for contenders after early woes — Oakland manager Bob Melvin woke up the other morning and had the club with the worst record in baseball. This from a team some of us had penciled in for a fourth straight postseason appearance. With the A's 14-27 after Tuesday's loss to the Astros, Melvin said simply getting back to .500, much less back in contention, was a daunting task.

Pure talent not to be discounted in early going — HOUSTON -- The Washington Nationals were looking for a spark. That's about as good an explanation as any. Three weeks into a season in which the Nationals were widely seen as baseball's deepest and most talented team, they found themselves with a 7-13 record.
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May 29, 2015

RT @LangoschMLB: Matt Adams underwent surgery today. Surgeon found complete tear of quad muscle, which will extend recovery time. Likely four-plus months.

May 29, 2015

RT @barrysvrluga: We've already declared the Astros as 2015's biggest surprise. Here are some others:

May 29, 2015

RT @Rangers: Rangers Front Office is excited for #JerseyDayTEX today. Show your team pride & share a pic in your Rangers jersey. http://t.c…

May 29, 2015

One more on @Pirates: Gerrit Cole is the ace. Period. He's first in NL in wins, seventh in ERA, ninth in innings, fourth in strikeouts.

May 29, 2015

NL MVP alert: @TheCUTCH22 .384 BA, .471 OBP, 9 doubles, 5 homers, 10 walks, 3 steals last 19 games. Avg from .188 to .272. @Pirates

May 29, 2015

And during 7-game win streak, @Pirates relievers have 1.06 ERA. @Twins 0.93 during same stretch. @Astros and @Cardinals close at 1.38.

May 29, 2015

During 7-game streak, @Pirates rotation is 7-0, 1.93 ERA. But 1 team has had better starting pitching during that time: @Athletics at 1.06

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