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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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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