Astros rout the Rangers to split the series

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 4 hits from the 12-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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.

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.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Houston Astros/Facebook

The Astros had a bad 4-6 road trip and looked forward to getting home to Minute Maid Park where they have been dominant this season. The pitiful Detroit Tigers arrived in Houston with a record since the All Star Break of nine wins and 27 losses. They literally do not have one non-pitcher who would make a healthy Astros' roster. That includes the way over the hill sure fire Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. Splitting four games at home with the Tigers would have been a fail. The Astros did not fail, though "only" taking three out of four seems a little disappointing. The S.S. Astros Good Ship Lollipop has sprung a couple of leaks. Neither that can't be plugged with good health, but the Astros have two notable health issues.

Carlos Correa's next endorsement deal should be for peanut brittle, emphasis not on the peanut. Some guys just have a propensity toward getting injured. Unfortunately the Correa resume grows that he is one of those guys. That back problems have resurfaced is troubling, to no one more so than Correa himself. It's clear the guy loves the game and is spectacularly talented, but durability is one component of greatness and to this point Correa simply has not demonstrated durability. If he can't produce a fully healthy bigtime season or two in the next year or two, any visions of a Manny Machado-like 10 year 300 million dollar contract will be up in smoke. Still, Correa turns only 25 years old next month so there's time to prove sturdiness, but more sand has seeped through the hourglass. For the 2019 Astros the dropdown is huge from Correa at shortstop to either Miles Straw or Aledmys Diaz being in the lineup. As for 2020, please tell anyone saying the Astros should trade Correa to be quiet.

The loss of Ryan Pressly for most if not all of the rest of the regular season is a big blow to the bullpen. Of even bigger concern is whether he can get back and get sharp to start the postseason.

This doesn't mean the ship is sinking. The Astros enter the weekend just one game behind the Yankees for the best record in the American League, and the Astros own the tiebreaker (having won the season series 4-3). They are three back of the Dodgers for best in MLB, the Astros have a three game lead in the tiebreaker with LA (intradivision record). The Yankees play at the Dodgers this weekend so if you're a glass half full person: a Dodger or Yankee loss is guaranteed three days in a row! If you're glass half empty: a Dodger or Yankee win is guaranteed three days in a row!

NFL on the horizon

A little over 2 weeks until the Texans begin their 18th season of play in the National Football League. We've all heard the saying, the 18th time is the charm. So is this the season the Texans are finally a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Probably not. The Texans do not look like a notably improved football team. On paper their schedule is clearly more difficult than last season's. Within the AFC the Chiefs clearly have more overall talent and are better coached. The Patriots still exist. One of these years Tom Brady really will slip. Maybe at age 42 this is the season.

If Jadeveon Clowney opts to sit out, or is traded, anyone thinking he won't be missed, is wrong. Clowney is not a superstar but he's really good. The Texans will be easier to run on without him. And while not an elite pass rusher, Clowney has to be accounted for. Anyone thinking, ah, he's hurt all the time anyway…wrong again. Clowney missed one game last season, and the season before that he played in every game.

If you want a couple of reasons for plausible optimism, here you go. Coming off of last season Deshaun Watson does not rate as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. He could well vault into that echelon this season. The Texans' offensive line remains something between a question mark and a glaring weakness, but really, can it be worse than it was the last couple of seasons? DeAndre Hopkins is about as good as it gets today at wide receiver, the same for J.J. Watt at defensive end though the clock is ticking down on his prime.

The Texans probably begin their season by losing at New Orleans. On the other hand the Buccaneers started their 5-11 2018 season by beating the 13-3 to be Saints in New Orleans.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Connor McGregor pitches some "number 12" brand of whisky. As a human being he seems much more a piece of number two. 2. Two peas in a pitching pod: Justin Verlander 15-5, 2.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts. Gerrit Cole 15-5, 2.75 ERA, 238 strikeouts. 3. Worst tasting vegetables: Bronze-kale Silver-peas Gold-lima beans


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