Astros win fifth straight game in Greinke's debut

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 11-6 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a week of waiting, Tuesday night was finally the night Houston had been looking forward to since last Wednesday: Zack Greinke's first start in an Astros uniform. He was going up against a familiar foe in the Colorado Rockies. Here is a quick rundown of the first matchup of the quick two-game series:

Final Score: Astros 11, Rockies 6.

Record: 74-40, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (11-4, 3.08 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-4, 5.95 ERA).

1) Not the best start for Greinke, but still a win

Zack Greinke had an efficient first three innings in his new uniform, allowing just two hits over that span, but erasing both to keep the Rockies off the board. He faced his first real test in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single then a walk to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch advanced both runners, setting up a sac fly for the Rockies followed by an RBI-double to trim Houston's lead to 3-2.

Greinke made it out of that inning but would face another high-leverage situation in the top of the fifth after a leadoff double then error put two runners on yet again. He would get out of the jam, though, with a flyout and double play to end the inning.

Greinke would have an unfortunate sixth inning, however. He allowed a leadoff infield single, then a one-out walk, putting two on base for a two-out three-run game-tying home run by Colorado to make it 5-5. He would get through the sixth, but it still ended his night on a sour note. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

2) Alvarez provides some quick run support for his new pitcher

After going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, Alex Bregman got the first hit of the night with a leadoff double to start the bottom of the second. That brought up Yordan Alvarez, who demolished a ball 436 feet for his fourteenth home run of the year to put Houston ahead 2-0 early.

They would extend the lead further in the bottom of the third, getting an RBI-single by Michael Brantley to make it 3-0. After the Rockies trimmed the lead to one run in the top of the fourth, Yuli Gurriel put it back to two with a two-out solo home run, making it 4-2. In the bottom of the fifth, George Springer hit a one-out single, moved to third on a single by Jose Altuve, then scored on an RBI-groundout by Michael Brantley, extending the lead to 5-2.

After Colorado tied the game in the top of the sixth, Carlos Correa put Houston right back in front with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the inning. George Springer would tack on another later in the inning, getting a one-out RBI-single to extend the lead to 7-5.

3) Tacking on some insurance

Chris Devenski was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, taking the mound for the top of the seventh. He would snap his three-game streak of scoreless innings, allowing a one-out solo home run to Charlie Blackmon to cut the lead to one run at 7-6 before getting through the inning.

Carlos Correa would strike again in the bottom of the seventh to add on more runs. After a leadoff single by Michael Brantley and walk by Alex Bregman, Correa would drive both in on a two-RBI double. Yuli Gurriel was up next and launched his second home run of the night to further pad the lead at 11-6.

Hector Rondon took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and retired the Rockies in order. Collin McHugh wrapped things up by working around a couple of walks for a scoreless ninth, giving Houston their fifth straight win.

Up Next: These two teams will wrap up this entire two-game series in under 24 hours with the finale tomorrow at 1:10 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Peter Lambert (2-2, 5.71 ERA) on the mound for Colorado while Houston will send out Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.87 ERA) who will be looking to continue his hot streak and add to his league-leading number of strikeouts.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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This time next week Jim Crane will have hired or be closing in on hiring the Astros' new manager. Who is it going to be? Considering Crane himself doesn't know yet, how the heck should I know? The candidate pool is deep in quality, four former big league skippers (none of whom have won a World Series) and at least three others who have never managed in Major League Baseball.

Dusty Baker. 70 years old. Over 22 seasons he steered four different franchises to the postseason. Tremendous people skills. I always felt his teams took on his upbeat but intense personality. Not a tactical wizard and a questionable resume re: handling of several pitchers. That's not a dealbreaker If Brent Strom is still the pitching coach.

Buck Showalter. Organized and prepared as all get out. Taken three different teams to the playoffs. More coincidence than anything else, the Yankees and Diamondbacks won the World Series...the season immediately after they fired Showalter.

John Gibbons. Low key personality. Two American League Championship Series trips with the Blue Jays.

Jeff Banister. LaMarque high school grad, played at UH. Back-to-Back AL West titles with the Rangers before their roster fell apart and the Astros took over the division. Also a lifetime big league batting average of 1.000. One at bat, he singled.

Any of those four would be a highly credible hire.

Those seeking experience by getting experience: Raul Ibanez, Will Venable, and Eduardo Perez. Where the Astros are, I would lean away from them. Incumbent bench coach Joe Espada is a more credentialed candidate than those three, but Espada was on A.J. Hinch's staff when the Astros are confirmed as cheaters, so can't see Crane going with him.

The experienced big league managers would command more money. That should play zero role in the choice, even though if the Astros stay largely healthy and avoid precipitous performance declines, you or I could manage their roster to 90 wins. Who is best equipped to navigate the S.S. Astros through some stormy seas bound to hit? Because, A. that's baseball, and B. they'll face some unusual stuff in their role as the lying, cheating villains of MLB. Can't know the answer to that.

Rockets fading from the spotlight

The Texans disintegrated on the field in Kansas City, the Astros' integrity turns out to have in part either disintegrated or been non-existent, leaving the Rockets among the big three to uplift the city's sports spirits over the next couple of months. Problem, relatively few seem to care. Glaring numbers of empty seats (even though sold) at Toyota Center, lower TV ratings, and a palpable lack of buzz to them. No shame in a 27-16 record, but that's not close to special and things just seem a bit stale. Dog days of midseason or larger problems?

The Rockets enter the weekend closer to the Draft Lottery than to the Western Conference leading Lakers. The Rockets are at best b-list contenders, waaaay more likely to get bounced from the playoffs in the first round than to win the West. They may be in serious trouble relative to this season's aspirations, and going forward.

Recent deep shooting slump aside, James Harden is a phenomenal offensive force, and Russell Westbrook is a force of nature. But a Harden/Westbrook backcourt headlines a non-championship caliber defense. And there just aren't good enough players around them. Harden is 30 years old, Westbrook is 31. Eric Gordon and his balky knee and erratic jumper, also 31. Over the next three seasons the Rockets are on the hook for those three guys at an average of about 106 million dollars per season.

For two straight off-seasons, the Rockets have been cheap with construction of the bench. Whatever the extent he's been following owner Tilman Fertitta's marching orders, among teams that fancy themselves contenders General Manager Daryl Morey has produced the worst bench in the NBA.

There are a bunch of teams with better overall talent, there are lottery teams with better young talent. It all adds up to the best guess being Head Coach Mike D'Antoni parts ways with the Rockets after the season. How good a job will the Rockets job be for the next coach? The answer might be, not very, in terms of pursuing an NBA championship.

While not being a big deal, it won't look good on the Rockets side if/when Chris Paul makes the All Star Game and Russell Westbrook doesn't.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you were Kelvin Sampson would you leave UH for the Rockets? 2. The Pro Bowl is Sunday! 3. Things on TV I'd watch before the Pro Bowl: Bronze-Real Housewives of Anywhere Silver-A full XFL game Gold-Three hours of test pattern

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