Astros complete the sweep of the Mariners

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 3-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the four-pitcher combined no-hitter the day before secured them the series win, Houston sent Justin Verlander to the mound to complete the clean sweep. Here is a rundown of the series finale with the Mariners:

Final Score: Astros 3, Mariners 1.

Record: 73-40, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (15-4, 2.68 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Tommy Milone (1-6, 4.33 ERA).

1) Just another day at the office for Verlander

While he didn't throw a no-hitter like his four teammates did the day before, it was another typically terrific day for Justin Verlander. He did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, which was Seattle's first hit since Friday night's game. He also allowed a two-out triple in the top of the fifth but would strand that runner as well.

Along the way, Verlander recorded yet another double-digit strikeout game, surpassing 200 on the season to join his teammate Gerrit Cole as the only pitchers in the league to accomplish that so far in 2019. Seattle did tag him with a run, a solo shot to lead off the seventh.

That would do it for him in this start, as he was sitting with 98 pitches after that home run. Verlander's final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 1 HR.

2) Finishing the sweep

Along the way, Houston's offense had gotten two runs of support for Verlander. The first came in the bottom of the fourth after Alex Bregman led the inning off with a single, moved to third on a Jose Altuve double, then scored on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa. Bregman would come around to score again in the sixth; he hit a one-out double before moving to third on a wild pitch then scoring on a sacrifice fly by Yordan Alvarez to extend the lead to 2-0.

With Verlander's day over after the solo home run to start the seventh to cut the lead to 2-1, Joe Smith came in from the bullpen and worked around a one-out single to maintain the one-run advantage. Houston pushed it back to two runs in the bottom half of the inning, getting a one-out single by Jake Marisnick who stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick, making it 3-1.

Will Harris was next out of the bullpen to take over in the eighth, and he recorded a 1-2-3 inning. Roberto Osuna came in to close things out in the ninth and did so with a scoreless inning. The win completed the sweep, gave Houston five straight series wins, and made them winners in fourteen of their last seventeen games.

Up Next: Houston will get a day off tomorrow at home before starting a two-game series with the Rockies at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night. The first of the two games will begin at 7:10 PM and will be the debut of Zack Greinke (10-4, 2.90 ERA) for the Astros. The Rockies are expected to counter with German Marquez (10-5, 4.68 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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