Houston improves to 3-0

Alvarez lifts off as Astros stay perfect against A's

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Firmly in control through the first two games of this series and season, thanks to their successful offense, the Astros tried to stay undefeated in the early regular season by getting another win against the A's on Saturday. They'd make their first change to their batting order, giving Alex Bregman a rest day and bringing in Aledmys Diaz in his place, and handed the ball to recently-extended Lance McCullers Jr to make his first start of the year.

Although it wouldn't be his most impressive outing, McCullers Jr. did enough to earn the win, thanks in part to a big home run by Yordan Alvarez. Houston would go on to win and stay perfect on the year, dropping the A's to 0-3 in the early season.

Final Score: Astros 9, A's 1

Astros' Record: 3-0, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Cole Irvin (0-1)

Houston strikes first but lose Brantley

Both teams were able to bring one run across in the first inning, though for Houston, it came at a cost, at least for today. Michael Brantley took a fastball to his wrist to become Houston's first baserunner, later scoring on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to put the Astros in front 1-0.

Michael Brantley would end up exiting the game with discomfort as a result, though the team quickly reported initial X-rays were negative, with Chas McCormick coming in to take his place. Houston plated another in the top of the second, loading the bases to set up a one-out RBI-single for Jose Altuve before they would strand the bases loaded.

An up and down day for McCullers Jr.

Lance McCullers Jr. labored to find the strike zone in the bottom of the first, issuing back-to-back walks to start his day. He would allow a one-out RBI-single to tie the game but rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts to get to the dugout, but not before tossing 33 pitches.

He rebounded nicely in the second, retiring Oakland in order on 12 pitches, but then lost control again in the third, using up another 32 to get through it and maintain the one-run lead. He turned that back around again with a quick fourth and would end up finishing five one-run innings, leaving in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7K, 95 P.

Alvarez makes noise as Houston secures series win

Houston threatened again in the top of the fifth, this time avoiding multiple stranded runners as Yordan Alvarez would launch a three-run opposite-field home run to extend the lead to 5-1. Ryne Stanek took over in the bottom of the sixth for McCullers, striking out the side then tossing a quick seventh to maintain the four-run advantage.

Enoli Paredes was Houston's next reliever in the bottom of the eighth, but after loading the bases with one out on a single and two walks, Brooks Raley quickly replaced him. Raley would get out of the jam with back-to-back outs to strand all three runners and send the game to the final inning.

In the top of the ninth, after the first two batters reached, Chas McCormick would get his first major-league hit, an RBI-double off the left-field wall to bring in an insurance run, making it 6-1. Houston went on to score three more before it was said and done, and Raley would remain on the mound to close out the win. The victory locked up the series for Houston, giving them the opportunity to complete a four-game sweep to start the season.

Up Next: The fourth and final game of this series in Oakland will be at 3:07 PM Central on Sunday. Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73 ERA in 2020) will get the start for Houston, while Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50 ERA) will make his 2021 debut for Oakland.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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