Astros start second half with a loss

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 5-0 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a three-day break from the regular season, the Astros were back in action on Thursday night in Arlington against the Rangers looking to start the second half of the season with a win. Here is a recap of the first game of the four-game series:

Final Score: Rangers 5, Astros 0.

Record: 57-34, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.69 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-5, 5.28 ERA).

1) Valdez unable to last a single inning

After the Astros were unable to get on the board in the top of the first, Framber Valdez took the mound to try and provide Houston with a decent start while they await the return of Brad Peacock and continue work towards a possible trade for another reliable starter.

Valdez, who had been optioned back to AAA before the All-Star break, would not shine in his return to the major-league club. Instead, he struggled and would get through just two outs while allowing the Rangers to score four runs on four hits and three walks, putting the Astros in a 4-0 hole.

Chris Devenski would come in and put the long-awaited end to the first inning and would work around a one-out single in the bottom of the second to complete that inning as well.

2) Bregman exits in the third

In the bottom of the third inning, Cy Sneed would make his second appearance of the year to relieve Chris Devenski. He worked in and out of some trouble, allowing a run to make it a 5-0 game, and would load the bases as the Rangers threatened for more, but would leave all three runners stranded with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

During that inning, however, the Astros would experience a scary scene. Alex Bregman lined up to field a chopping ground ball up the middle, but before it reached him, the ball would take a big bounce right into his chin. He was visibly shaken up, resulting in his exit from the game.

3) Lance Lynn dominates 

While Framber Valdez struggled in the first inning, it was Lance Lynn on the mound for Texas who was able to dominate Houston's bats. Lynn tossed one of the best starts of his season, shutting out the Astros over seven innings while matching his season-high in strikeouts with eleven.

Sneed was able to wrap his night up with a solid line in relief, getting the Astros through the seventh while maintaining the 5-0 score. Sneed also struck out seven over his five innings, allowing just the one run back in the third in an otherwise great appearance where he ate up some valuable innings for Houston.

Josh James was next out of the bullpen and threw a seven-pitch bottom of the eighth inning. They wouldn't need anyone for the bottom of the ninth, as the Rangers were able to complete the shutout win in the top of the inning, starting Houston's second half of the season with a loss.

Up Next: Game two of this series will be tomorrow at 7:05 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.09 ERA) for the Astros who will try to extend his recent hot streak as he goes up against Jesse Chavez (3-4, 3.30 ERA) for the Rangers.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Astros get back on track with lopsided win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 11-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With two of their worst pitching performances behind them from Monday and Tuesday nights, the Astros had Gerrit Cole on the mound on Wednesday to try and right the ship. Here is a recap of the third of four games in this series:

Final Score: Astros 11, Angels 2.

Record: 60-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (10-5, 3.12 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Felix Pena (7-3, 4.92 ERA).

1) Overpowering offense makes it easy for Houston's pitchers

Houston's openers and primary pitchers put up disappointing numbers the offense could not overcome the previous two nights. Houston's bats flipped the script on that, taking control of the game on Tuesday night to make it less stressful for Gerrit Cole and the bullpen.

They started with a three-run first inning, getting a one-out single by Jose Altuve who would score on an RBI-double by Alex Bregman before a two-run homer by Michael Brantley in the next at-bat. They continued scoring in the next two innings, getting a run in each. Jose Altuve notched an RBI-double in the second, then Yuli Gurriel led the third inning off with a double before scoring on a wild pitch later in the inning.

They nearly doubled that 6-0 lead in the top of the fifth, getting four straight two-out hits. It started with a single by Robinson Chirinos to move Michael Brantley, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, over to second. Tyler White was next with another RBI in this series, getting a single to score Brantley. Jake Marisnick was next, and he came through with an RBI-double before George Springer would clear the bases with a three-run dinger to make it an 11-0 game.

2) Cole gives fans a breath of fresh air

As mentioned, Astros fans were desperate for an efficient pitching performance after the woes of the last two nights. Gerrit Cole delivered, rebounding from his previous start, which was a drop-off from his usual numbers and having a more typical night.

Cole allowed only a handful of hits and a walk over the first four innings, keeping the Angels off the board until the fifth. They would tag him with his near-daily home run in that inning, a solo shot to make it an 11-1 game, the only run he would allow on the night.

Even with his pitch count in the 90s after six innings, the Astros trusted him to come back out and eat another inning. He did so, getting a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh on three strikeouts, bringing his total on the night to eleven. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 HR.

Cole's excellent performance meant only two innings of relief needed from Houston' bullpen. Joe Smith provided a scoreless eighth, then Ryan Pressly wrapped things up despite allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth to make it 11-2.

Up Next: The Astros and Angels will conclude this series tomorrow with the finale of the four-game set starting an hour earlier at 8:07 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Wade Miley (7-4, 3.32 ERA) for Houston going up against Matt Harvey (3-4, 6.88 ERA) for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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