Astros rout the Rays in the series opener

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 15-1 win

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After a weekend sweep of the Angels before a day off on Monday, Houston was back in action on Tuesday to start a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. They entered the day half a game behind the Yankees for the best record in the American League and a full game behind the Dodgers for the best overall record.

The series opener provided a terrific pitching matchup with Justin Verlander on the mound for the Astros going against former-teammate and fellow ace Charlie Morton. Here is how Tuesday's game unfolded:

Final Score: Astros 15, Rays 1.

Record: 86-47, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (16-5, 2.69 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Charlie Morton (13-6, 3.11 ERA).

1) Houston holds no punches against Morton

In his first game in Minute Maid Park since the 2018 playoffs, Charlie Morton's former team did not great him with a smooth start on the mound. They started giving him grief in the bottom of the third, working two walks to start the inning. Josh Reddick scored the first run of the game with an RBI-double in the next at-bat, then the Astros loaded the bases with a hit batter.

Despite having the bases loaded with no outs, Houston would only get one more run out of it on a sacrifice fly by Jose Altuve to extend the lead to 2-0. They would continue to hit well against Morton in the bottom of the fourth, though, putting the first two runners on base for the second straight inning, setting up a two-RBI double by Yuli Gurriel.

Robinson Chirinos extended the lead by two more runs later in the inning by launching a one-out two-run home run to make it a 6-0 Houston advantage, and that inning would spell the end for Morton's night. Tampa Bay's bullpen did not fare any better, with Houston putting the first two runners on yet again, including Michael Brantley extending his hitting streak to 19 games, before a three-run dinger by Yordan Alvarez to extend the lead to 9-0.

2) Meanwhile, Verlander was ejected

While Charlie Morton was having a rough night, Justin Verlander was putting together another dominant start. He didn't allow a hit until the top of the third and had shut out the Rays through the first five. Up 9-0 in the top of the sixth, Verlander had words with the home plate umpire after what he believed to be a missed third strike turned into a one-out double on the next pitch.

That resulted in an ejection of Verlander, ending his night early and ending his streak of starts with 10+ strikeouts at seven games. His final line after being tossed: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 HPB, 4 K.

3) Astros keep scoring

Brad Peacock was quickly brought in and was able to finish off the sixth inning and keep Tampa Bay scoreless. Then, the Astros added to their lead in the bottom half by scoring five more runs on RBIs from Jake Marisnick, Aledmys Diaz, George Springer, along with another on an error, making it a 14-0 rout.

Peacock remained on the mound for the top of the seventh, and despite allowing a leadoff solo home run to put the Rays on the board and trim the lead to thirteen, was able to complete the inning. Yordan Alvarez pushed the lead back to fourteen runs in the bottom of the seventh, hitting his second home run of the night.

Collin McHugh was the next reliever for Houston in the game and provided a scoreless top of the eighth. The Astros failed to score a run in the bottom of the eighth, the first time since the second. Joe Biagini finished things off in the top of the ninth as Houston would crush Tampa Bay in the series opener.

Up Next: This series continues on Wednesday night with the middle game starting at 7:10 PM. It will be another intriguing pitching matchup with Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.29 ERA) on the mound for Tampa Bay going against Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.75 ERA) for Houston.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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