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Richard Justice is a correspondent for

Trout, Scherzer and the best of 2015 so far — On this Fourth of July, we salute a baseball season that has given us new stars like Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa. We pause to praise the greatness of Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. We raise a glass to the Astros, the Twins and the Cubs.

Altuve, Correa forming combo for the ages — HOUSTON -- In less than a month, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa have become more than just teammates. They have adjoining lockers. They have lunch together and sometimes dinner. They talk constantly. * Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Altuve and other #ASGWorthy players

Keuchel reaping rewards of Astros' success — "This season is the most fun I've ever had on a baseball field," he said. There you go. Pretty simple, right? That's because Keuchel was here when the Astros were lousy, when they were methodically building for a better day. He couldn't focus on the big picture because he was attempting to get his own career off the ground.

Mets shouldn't give up future to compete now — First, there's the standings. Despite all the bumps in the road, the Mets are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and two out in the NL Wild Card race.

A's proving themselves with hot streak — ARLINGTON -- This might end up being one of Billy Beane's finest hours, and don't you hate it how the smart guys end up being right so often? First, though, things have to work out a certain way for the A's and their general manager. Yes, that means lots of October baseball.

5 players who deserve more attention — Manny Machado, Orioles 3B Sometimes, the road to superstardom isn't a straight line. For Machado, that first detour came on Sept. 23, 2013. In the 156th game of his first full season -- a season in which he joined Alex Rodriguez as the only 20-year-olds to collect 50 doubles -- he stepped on first base awkwardly and suffered a gruesome injury to his left knee.

'Everybody loved him:' Friends, colleagues mourn Hamilton — Indeed, that's likely to be Hamilton's enduring legacy. He engaged all people, whether they covered teams or washed uniforms or bought tickets. He liked -- and respected -- everyone. Hamilton seemed to understand that he was blessed to have had a 13-year playing career. In that simple way, he never strayed far from his Louisiana roots.

Scherzer always in pursuit of perfection — That's also when players in both dugouts seemed to sense this might be one of those days they'd remember for the rest of their lives. "Just pumped me up," Scherzer would say later. * Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players Suddenly, this bundle of nerves and energy seemed to reach another level.

Snake-bitten Nats can't dwell on injuries — Bryce Harper's injury alone would be a tough to blow to both the lineup and the psyche. Only thing is, the Nationals have already had a season's worth of adversity in injuries to Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jayson Werth.

O's making their move in crowded AL East — This team started to look a lot like last season's Orioles during a 7-1 homestead that got them to within two games of first place in the American League East. If it's about scoring runs and having a bullpen that can lock down the late innings, the O's are in business.
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Jul 04, 2015

RT @CaseyWilcoxAZ: Solid read, @danbickley: Off the field, #Dbacks are world champs. Few teams deserve a winner more than they do

Jul 04, 2015

On this July 4th, we salute greatness, from the Astros and Cards to Trout and Mad Max and all the rest. via @mlb

Jul 04, 2015

Top 3 spots in @Astros order Altuve, Tucker, Correa went 8-16 with 5 runs, 6 RBIs.

Jul 04, 2015

Astros needed 18 players (8 pitchers), 10 innings, 4 hrs, 23 min, to regain the AL's best record. As entertaining as a game can be. @Astros

Jul 04, 2015

"We're witnessing a unique player."--A.J Hinch on Carlos Correa. @astros

Jul 03, 2015

Astros 48-34 +14 games over .500 for 2nd time this season. @astros

Jul 03, 2015

Astros at 82-game mark: 30-52 in 2013, 35-47 in 2014, 48-34 in 2015. @astros

Jul 03, 2015

RT @cnnbrk: Charges pending after Cardinals allegedly peeked into Astros baseball prospects database, officials say.

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