Astros rout the Rangers to split the series
Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 4 hits from the 12-4 win
With the extra-inning win on Saturday, the Astros were after a series split if they could manage back-to-back wins with a victory on Sunday. Here is how the series finale went:
Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.
Record: 59-35, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.98 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Ariel Jurado (5-5, 4.63 ERA).
1) Houston scores five runs in the first two innings
The Astros put pressure on Ariel Jurado early, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning after a leadoff single and back-to-back walks. They would score three runs over the next three at-bats, getting RBI-singles from Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel to keep the bases loaded then a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick.
Though the Rangers would respond with two runs of their own in their half of the first inning, Houston wasted no time putting the lead back at three runs in the bottom of the second. It started with Myles Straw working a one-out walk, then moved to third on a single by Jose Altuve. Alex Bregman drove in straw with a sacrifice fly, also moving Altuve over to second who would score on an RBi-single by Michael Brantley, making it a 5-2 game.
2) Verlander goes six innings
Justin's Verlander day didn't look like it was going to end as well as it did, as he would start the day with a rough first inning. The Rangers were able to get after Verlander with three consecutive one-out singles, scoring a run. They would later get a two-out RBI-single, trimming the once 3-0 lead to 3-2.
Verlander was nearly perfect after that inning, though, getting through the next five innings without allowing a hit and just one walk. It wasn't the most dominant of starts by his standards, and he could have gone longer if needed, but him not allowing any home runs and keeping Texas to just their two early runs was a much-needed quality start for Houston.
The six-inning outing was good enough to earn him his eleventh win of the season, moving him to 11-4 on the year. Verlander's final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR.
3) Altuve blows it open in the seventh
After their early runs, the Astros went scoreless over the middle innings of the game. That all changed in the top of the seventh, starting with a leadoff single by Josh Reddick who would score from first on an RBI-double from Robinson Chirinos, extending the lead to 6-2. They would go on to load the bases on an error and walk.
That brought Jose Altuve to the plate, who after his 4-for-6 game on Saturday would move to 3-for-4 on the day on Sunday with a huge grand slam to bust the game open at 10-2.
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 14, 2019
They wouldn't stop there, getting a walk from Alex Bregman to get another runner on base, which made it a two-run shot when Yuli Gurriel launched his a home run of his own, extending the lead to 12-2. That home run gave Gurriel eleven in his last fifteen games, continuing his hot streak of late.
4) Joe Smith returns as bullpen wraps things up
With the ten-run lead, the Astros went to their bullpen in the top of the seventh starting with Chris Devenski. He would struggle with the zone, walking in a run with four walks while getting just two outs. That prompted another call to the bullpen, bringing out Joe Smith who would make his first appearance for the Astros since October of last season.
Smith would allow an RBI-single to make it a 12-4 score but was able to get the last out of the inning to move things to the eighth. After Houston went down 1-2-3 in the top of the inning, Hector Rondon took over for Smith to pitch the bottom half and retired the Rangers in order.
After a scoreless top of the inning, Collin McHugh was brought in to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He did so, wrapping up the lopsided win and making it a series split between the Astros and Rangers.
Up Next: The Astros will travel to Anaheim tonight to start a four-game series with the Angles tomorrow night. The opener will get underway at 9:07 PM Monday and while Griffin Canning (3-5, 4.43 ERA) is the expected starter for Los Angeles, the Astros have a tough predicament with starting pitching with Brad Peacock suffering a setback to his return from injury. The current expectation is that Framber Valdez (3-5, 5.28 ERA) could make another start for Houston after throwing just 28 pitches on Thursday night in his abysmal 0.2 innings against the Rangers.