Astros drop third straight game

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 7-6 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a surprising and disappointing series loss to the White Sox to start the week, Houston traveled to Oakland for a four-game weekend series against the A's to try and get back on track. Here is a recap from the series opener from Thursday night:

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 6.

Record: 78-44, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jake Diekman (1-6, 4.86 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chris Devenski (2-2, 4.42 ERA).

1) Pitcher's duel through the first three innings

The series opener got underway at a breakneck pace, with both former-Astro Mike Fiers and newly acquired Aaron Sanchez stacking three efficient innings. The two combined to get through the first three frames very quickly, taking just a total of 58 pitches to do so. The only hit over that span was a two-out single by Oakland allowed by Sanchez. However, the hits started coming in waves in the middle innings.

2) Alex Bregman starts the scoring

The top of the fourth looked to be another quick 1-2-3 inning where Mike Fiers would stay in control against the Astros. Instead, a two-out single by Michael Brantley brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and he connected on a line drive home run to start the scoring for the night and put Houston ahead 2-0.

That didn't just open up the hitting for Houston, as Oakland would respond immediately with a big inning of their own against Sanchez in the bottom of the fourth. He struggled in the inning, putting the first two runners on base to set up a go-ahead three-run home run to start the inning along with a solo home run later in the inning to extend Oakland's lead to 4-2.

Houston would work their way back to a tie with solo home runs by Carlos Correa in the fifth and Michael Brantley in the sixth, but Oakland quickly broke that tie in the bottom of the sixth. The A's launched their third and fourth home runs of the game against Sanchez with no outs in the inning, giving them a 6-4 lead.

Sanchez would get one more out before allowing two more baserunners prompting a call to the bullpen to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 4 HR.

3) Houston comes up just short

Hector Rondon took over for Aaron Sanchez in the bottom of the sixth and was able to erase two inherited runners to send the game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa trimmed Oakland's lead to one run by leading the inning off with his second home run of the night. Rondon returned for the bottom of the inning and kept the A's off the board, keeping the game at one run.

Michael Brantley would join Carlos Correa as Houston players with multi-home run games after a solo home run with one out in the top of the eighth tied the game 6-6. The balls kept flying out of the park, with Matt Chapman also having a multi-homer game for Oakland after a go-ahead solo shot off Chris Devenski in the bottom of the eighth.

Devenski would finish the bottom of the eighth, but Houston would come away empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the opener of the four-game series. The loss made it three straight for the Astros.

Up Next: Game two of this series will be Friday night with another west-coast starting time of 9:07 PM Central. Justin Verlander (15-4, 2.82 ERA) will get the ball for Houston and attempt to bounce back from a rough outing in his last start. Oakland is expected to start Tanner Roark (7-8, 4.06 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads for the high banks of Michigan for the Firekeepers Casino 400. This will be NASCAR's second doubleheader of the season as they continue to draw closer and closer to the playoffs. Earlier in the summer, NASCAR announced the final races before the playoffs and in those number of races they announced that they will be running two doubleheaders. One this Saturday and Sunday at Michigan and another in a few weeks at Dover. We saw a double feature race earlier this year at Pocono, so it will be interesting to see here in a different set of circumstances at Michigan. This track is a two and half mile oval that races similarly to a track like Auto Club as they both have plenty of grooves and lanes to run on. With this aero package it should be interesting to see if the racing is similar to last year's.

It was announced this week that NASCAR would unveil their last batch of races for the remainder of 2020 and for the most part the season remains pretty much the same. Richmond will get back one of it's races that was cancelled and Phoenix Raceway will remain the season finale. NASCAR had made it clear that they were hoping to keep their playoff races intact and luckily they were able to. We will still get to see Martinsville decide who gets to race in the final four, and we will still see Bristol in the playoffs as well. The only question that remains now is will these races have fans? I have a feeling that at tracks like Las Vegas we will see no fans but on tracks like Texas and Bristol or Richmond, I have a feeling they will be much more lenient. Only time will tell as everything remains fluid.

It was announced on Thursday that Erik Jones will not return to the #20 car for Joe Gibbs in 2021. This clears a path for the next Gibbs driver in the pipeline, Christopher Bell. The writing had been on the wall for a while as Toyota and Joe Gibbs had too many drivers and not enough seats to fit all of them. The same thing happened back in 2017 when it was announced that Erik Jones would be replacing Matt Kenseth in the same car. While I hate to see Jones lose his ride, I think it will only be temporary as there are a bunch of good rides available. Besides, you have to feel as if he is now the favorite to replace Jimmie Johnson next season after Brad Keselowski announced he will be back at Penske next season.

Another headline that was announced this week was the changes that will be made to how the field will start at the Daytona Roval. NASCAR also announced Thursday that they would use weighted metrics to decide who starts on the front-row. The formula will consist of three criteria including, finishing position in the previous race, position in owner points, and fastest lap time in the race. None of this makes any sense to the average viewer. In fact, most of the drivers I would imagine don't understand it either. There were probably better ways of doing this including actual practice and qualifying. I can understand that NASCAR is trying to do everything in their power to make sure drivers are limited at the racetrack, but this is becoming more and more unnecessary by the week.

As I mentioned earlier, Erik Jones will be looking for a ride next season. What better way to prove you belong than by winning races and that's what I predict he will do this weekend at Michigan. This is a track that is special to him considering he is a native Michigander. While he hasn't had the best finishes here over the past few years, I will say he has been running well. Despite a lackluster 24th place finish at New Hampshire, before that he had rattled off back-to-back top tens with a fifth at Texas and a sixth at Kansas. I look for him to get back in the grove and get his third career win and leave a big impression on all the teams looking for a driver next season. Look for Erik Jones to win one of the races this weekend.

The other driver I have winning this weekend is Joey Logano. On Saturday, Logano will roll off first to begin the weekend. This is a track where Joey has been stellar at as well. He has won here four times including back in 2013 in a race that put Logano back on the map and began his reign at Penske. I look for him to get win #4 this weekend at Michigan.

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