Astros win seventh straight game

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Astros were riding a six-game winning streak into a three-game series with the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 3, Orioles 2.

Record: 76-40, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wade Miley (11-4, 2.99 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Dylan Bundy (5-12, 5.04 ERA).

1) Another win for Miley

Wade Miley did his job against the Orioles on Friday night, throwing another low-score solid start. He only allowed a few hits in the early goings of the game but allowed a costly hit in the bottom of the fifth when he allowed a solo home run to get the Orioles within a run at 2-1.

He quickly moved past the homer, finishing the fifth then getting two outs into the sixth before his pitch count caught up with him and Houston made the call to their bullpen. Miley's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. The one-run start not only kept Miley in line for his eleventh win of the season, but it also moved his ERA below 3.00 at 2.99

2) Offense not as strong as expected, but strong enough

It looked like Houston's bats were going to feast on Baltimore's pitching after their successful first inning. It started with a one-out single by Jose Altuve, who would come around to score the first run of the game on a two-out RBI-double by Alex Bregman. Yordan Alvarez was up next and continued his fantastic introduction to the league with an RBI of his own, a single to score Bregman and extend the lead to 2-0.

They would go surprisingly quiet after that, getting only a handful of hits through the middle innings. After the Orioles cut the lead in half in the fifth, Houston was able to push it back to two runs in the top of the seventh. Robinson Chirinos led the inning off with a single, then scored on an RBI-triple by Jose Altuve.

3) Make it seven straight wins

After Will Harris finished the sixth for Wade Miley, it was Joe Smith who took over on the mound for the seventh. He would complete the inning, but not without allowing Baltimore's second solo home run of the night to make it a 3-2 Houston lead.

Ryan Pressly made his return from the injured list in the bottom of the eighth inning and was able to keep Baltimore scoreless by working around a one-out walk and single, stranding both with back-to-back strikeouts to send things to the ninth. Roberto Osuna took over for another save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth and converted it to finish off Houston's seventh win in a row

Up Next: This series continues with game two on Saturday at 6:05 PM Central from Baltimore. The expected pitching matchup is Aaron Brooks (2-5, 5.45 ERA) for the Orioles going against newly acquired Aaron Sanchez (4-14, 5.76 ERA) who will be looking to repeat the success of his hitless six-inning debut with the Astros last weekend.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

What a week.The Rockets look terrible in losing consecutive games to losing teams, and that doesn't register as the tiniest ripple in the week's pond of Houston sports woe. Pond? More like ocean.

The Astros are irrefutably confirmed for all-time as cheaters and liars over a multi-season period. Jim Crane is no idiot, but specifically on the issue of whether the Astros' 2017 World Series championship is tainted, Jim Crane is an idiot if he really thinks it is not. Astro lackeys, toadies, and homers should stop the "a bunch of other teams did it too!" and "Mike Fiers is an a-hole" lameness. The Astros were guilty, caught, and deserved to get hammered. If/when others are proven as guilty as the Astros, so should they be hammered.

So after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's lowering of a rightful boom, and then Jim Crane firing Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, what does it all mean for the 2020 Astros? It's a wow of a story, but really not a crisis. The loss of Gerrit Cole is much more meaningful. Luhnow's shoes are fairly easily filled for this season. Hence for now, Crane himself will head up baseball operations. The Astros weren't and aren't pursuing any meaningful free agents or major trades. Before his demise Luhnow finished the financial corner cutting moves that filled out the roster.

It's not as if Luhnow's personal expertise made all scouting, drafting, and signing decisions. And now the Astros have no first or second round pick to make this June anyway. 30 year old Pete Putila is the ranking baseball guy still employed by the club, but he is a branch of the Luhnow tree. If Crane's goal is the "housecleaning" he termed the Luhnow and Hinch firings as being, how can he promote a Luhnow lieutenant? Every front office in baseball has shrewd analytic minds, looking to move up. Crane can easily hire one of them.

As for field manager, Hinch was a great handler of people (well….with one kind of important exception) but this roster is strong enough to operate on autopilot to a good extent. Bench coach Joe Espada is highly regarded and been a finalist for other managerial gigs. But he was on Hinch's staff when cheating was ongoing in 2018. That seems pretty much disqualifying. Two known interviewees are quality options, though neither has skippered a team to the World Series. Buck Showalter was always extremely highly regarded, John Gibbons steered the Blue Jays to back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. Between those two I'd lean Showalter but either would be fine.

Remember The Texans

How thankful are Bill O'Brien and the Texans for the Astros' mess grabbing all the headlines not even 24 hours after the Texans' collapse in Kansas City? It's almost impossible to get blown out of an NFL game in which you lead 24-nothing. Almost. The Texans pulled it off! Won't that cute little AFC South Champion banner be extra cute when it hangs next season? Hangs like a dead man from a noose.

As I put it last week, the Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense, the Chiefs' defense better than the Texans' defense, and the Chiefs' coaching better than the Texans' coaching. But the way the game played out was still preposterous.

If Travis Kelce had beaten Lonnie Johnson any worse than he did Johnson's name should have been legally changed to Rented Mule. J.J. Watt was essentially a zero. No tackles, no assists on tackles, no sacks, no quarterback hits. Are you going to pay 15 and a half million dollars to a 31 year old Watt after his three major injuries in the last four seasons. That's a yes.

At least we have clarity that the Texans must dedicate their first round pick to a pass rusher or a defensive back. Wait, they don't have a first round pick. Well, in 2021 then. Wait. Bill O'Brien traded that away too. Speaking of O'Brien…

Opting for the field goal on fourth and one up 21-0 early second quarter was not indefensible. However, O'Brien's explanation for doing so was pitiful. The fake punt? Most agree, dumb.But not absolutely indefensible. This was the O'Brien Is Not Fit For Command moment of the game: He needed to use a timeout, with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Texans down 17, facing fourth and fourth and four, in Chiefs' territory, to decide to go for the first down rather than punt. A cinder block could have displayed the same game management IQ. O'Brien has three seasons left on his contract. Unless Cal McNair takes a decidedly different tack than his father did, O'Brien's job is as safe as any Supreme Court Justice's.

Speaking of Cal, since the loss he's been spotted as often and been as vocal this week as Alex Bregman.

Buzzer Beaters

1. So, if guaranteed the truth: For a million dollars is your bet Altuve was wearing something or not? 2. Alex Cora should be banned from ever again managing a Major League team. 3. Famous "scandals": Bronze-Teapot Dome Silver-Patty Smyth fronted band, had big hit with Goodbye to You Gold-Kerry Washington and the TV show.

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