Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
With a disappointing end to the third game of this four-game set on Wednesday night, Houston tried to end the series with a win and a series victory on Thursday evening. Here is how the finale shook out:
Final Score: Astros 6, Tigers 3.
Record: 82-47, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.75 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Jordan Zimmerman (1-9, 6.48 ERA).
1) Cole dazzles in his return
Gerrit Cole, much like Justin Verlander the night before, was able to take advantage of a struggling Tigers lineup and expand on his already fantastic season numbers. Cole allowed a walk and a single in the second inning, the only two baserunners he would see through the first five frames.
In the top of the sixth, he allowed the second hit of the night by Detroit but stranded that runner as well. He returned for another scoreless inning in the seventh and was shut down after reaching 94 pitches over that span. Along the way he continued to rack up swings and misses, locking up yet another double-digit strikeout by the end of the sixth.
It was a terrific start for Cole, who was coming off the hamstring discomfort that had him sidelined for a little over a week. His final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 0 HR.
.@GerritCole45 has tied J.R. Richard for the most 10+ K games (14) in a season for an @Astros pitcher. pic.twitter.com/6pxuq6RjFK
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 23, 2019
2) Astros back up Cole with plenty of runs
While the offense was not electric through the early parts of the game, they did at least provide Cole double the amount of run support they gave Verlander the night before. The two runs they put on the board came in the bottom of the fourth after Michael Brantley hit a leadoff double before Alex Bregman drilled a line-drive two-run homer to make it a 2-0 Houston lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Brantley and Bregman struck again with singles to get on base before an RBI-double by Yordan Alvarez to extend Houston's lead to 3-0. Once again Brantley was able to play a factor into the game in the bottom of the seventh, coming to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs and delivering a two-RBI single to make it a 5-0 Houston lead.
Yuli Gurriel joined the other three hitters in the middle of the order with RBIs, getting one of his own on an RBI-single to make it 6-0 before the Tigers could get out of the bottom of the seventh.
3) Finishing up the series win
With Cole's night done, Joe Smith took over on the mound for the top of the eighth and was able to record a twelve-pitch 1-2-3 inning. Joe Biagini returned to Houston's bullpen roster and was brought in for the top of the ninth, but allowed back-to-back home runs to cut Houston's lead in half at 6-3.
Biagini was able to get another out, but after issuing a four-pitch two-out walk was pulled in favor of Roberto Osuna who was able to get the last out, despite walking a batter, to close out the win. Abraham Toro, called up before this game to make his major-league debut, went 0-for-4.
Up Next: The Astros will turn their attention to the Angels who come to town for a three-game series starting Friday night with the series opener scheduled for 7:10 PM. Zack Greinke (13-4, 2.84 ERA) will make his fourth start with Houston and will face Jose Suarez (2-4, 6.75 ERA) who will be on the mound for Los Angeles.
The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.
Astros GM Dana Brown has recently discussed how the club is going to approach free agency on the team's flagship station, and based on his comments, it doesn't sound the Astros are going to spend a lot of money.
He mentioned being “creative” with their strategy and maybe exploring some trade possibilities. Which is why we were surprised to hear from Jon Heyman that the Astros may have interest in Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, or another “elite” starting pitcher.
Phillies are still looking at top starters after bringing back Aaron Nola. They have company, as at least the Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Astros are looking for an elite starter (and many more than just those teams are on Yamamoto, who’s only 25).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 20, 2023
With the team right up against the tax threshold, a signing like this would certainly push them over, unless they find a way to dump some salary that's already on the books.
But the report that Houston is looking for an elite starter, certainly caught our attention. Mainly, because Dana Brown's comments about backup catcher and bullpen help being the priority, with starting pitching being more of a pipe dream considering the budget constraints.
A move like this would likely require someone like Alex Bregman being traded to make the money work. So is Jon Heyman off the mark with this report, or is Dana Brown quietly looking to add an elite starter?
Plus, just this week the Phillies signed Aaron Nola to a 7-year $172 million contract. Framber Valdez is looking for a long-term deal with 2 years remaining of club control. Will Framber's agent use this contract as a benchmark for what is client is looking for?
Don't miss the video above as we make sense of these recent reports!
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