Astros rout the Rays in the series opener

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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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A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.


But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

“In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

“We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

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