5/30/2014 8:29 P.M. ET
Crane praises Springer, Astros' fire during surge
By Brian McTaggart and Mike Vernon / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane passed manager Bo Porter in the halls of the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston prior to the Beacon Awards Luncheon on Friday afternoon and was pleased to see the skipper smiling. The Astros, after all, were riding a six-game winning streak.
"I said the press conference gets a little bit easier when you win six in a row," Crane said. "The team is starting to play a lot better. It's jelling a little bit, we got a little excitement when [George] Springer came up. We have a few more guys coming. We knew we were better than we were playing, and a little bit of confidence has started to take hold, and we're excited about the team."
Crane had high hopes for the Astros prior to the season after opening the wallet to sign veterans like pitchers Scott Feldman, Jesse Crain, Matt Albers and trading for Dexter Fowler, saying he thought they could finish .500. The Astros stumbled out of the gate and were 12-27 before reeling off 12 wins in 18 games to get within nine games of .500.
"When a couple of guys get a little spark, then everybody starts piling on," he said. "We've had good pitching all year long except for a little bit of the bullpen. Hopefully that's shored up and we can get it back to .500 soon."
The arrival of Springer, who entered Friday with an 11-game hitting streak and seven homers in his previous seven games, has injected life into the club, Crane said.
"He's a dynamic young man," he said. "He's got a great swing. He's cut down on it a little bit and is making contact. He's a guy, when you look him in the eyes, you can tell he's a gamer and wants to play and doesn't seem to be nervous and is very talented."
Springer learns lesson in outfield communication
HOUSTON -- While George Springer can seemingly do no wrong at the plate, Thursday's game against Baltimore wasn't without a minor mishap from the rookie sensation.
Early in the Astros' 3-1 win over the Orioles -- well before his two-run, tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning for his seventh homer in seven games and 10th of the season, all in May -- Ryan Flaherty hit a third-inning fly ball to right-center field. Both Springer and center fielder Dexter Fowler made a play for the ball. The two bumped into each other before Fowler made the catch.
Springer, who came up as a center fielder but was moved to right field after the Astros signed Fowler, was quick to take responsibility for the minimal mistake. After all, this is the first time the two have shared an outfield together.
"That was our first, I guess you want to say, blip," Springer said. "It's his outfield. It's his ball, so I learned from my mistake."
Springer was calling for the ball while it was in flight but later learned that Fowler didn't hear him. By the time Springer heard Fowler attempt to call him off, the bump was inevitable.
"He said he didn't hear me," Springer said. "Next time that happens, I'll make sure he does."
Meaning behind 'Eagles' jerseys not lost on Astros
HOUSTON -- Before the road trip and before the win streak, right-hander Jerome Williams wanted to get a sneak preview of the Astros' jerseys for the Civil Rights Game.
So Williams slipped into a back room by himself to look at the cream-white jerseys with "Eagles" written in cursive with a navy font across the middle. He was pleased with the appearance and also the meaning of wearing the uniforms for the Houston Eagles -- the 1949-50 Houston Negro Leagues team.
"It's a big part of me, for myself personally, to wear something that was a big part of civil rights," Williams said.
Williams wasn't alone in that thought as manager Bo Porter also stressed the importance of being able to wear the old uniforms.
"It gives me great pride to put the uniform on and to be able to represent what the uniform stands for," Porter said. "There's a lot of people that paid some hefty prices for us to be able to sit here today and enjoy this great game of baseball integrated the way it is. I am completely honored and humbled."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.