Astros lose an ugly series opener to the Angels

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 9-6 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After consecutive wins to work a series split in the four games with the Rangers over the weekend, the Astros had a tough pitching predicament in front of them for both Monday and Tuesday night's game with no real starter for either game. Here is a recap of the first of four games in Anaheim:

Final Score: Angels 9, Astros 6.

Record: 59-36, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Anderson (3-0, 4.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-6, 5.58 ERA).

1) Strong open for Houston

As mentioned, the Astros had no true starter lined up for Monday night's game, causing them to elect to use an opener in Josh James. James filled the role well, getting a 1-2-3 first inning including a strikeout. Wrapped around his solid bottom of the first was Houston's attempt to give Framber Valdez, the extended pitcher of the night, a lead with which to work.

The Astros took advantage of Angels starter Griffin Canning's struggle with the strike zone in the first inning, getting four straight two-out walks to take a 1-0 lead. They extended that to 3-0 in the top of the second, scoring on a wild pitch and an RBI-single by Alex Bregman.

2) Same story for Valdez, different day

Even with the benefit of an opener, Framber Valdez simply could not break through from his recent pitching struggles. He would start his night with a scoreless second inning, but things would get progressively worse from there.

The Angels scored seven unanswered runs over the next three innings, getting a solo home run in the bottom of the third, scoring two more on a couple of hits in the fourth, then working three walks and scoring four runs on one hit and couple of sacrifices in the bottom of the fifth.

That made it a 7-3 game, erasing what was once a 3-0 Houston lead. Houston would not test their luck with Valdez any further, shutting him down after that inning. His final line: 4 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Unable to make the comeback

In the top of the sixth, the Astros were able to finally respond to all of Los Angeles' runs, getting a leadoff walk from Myles Straw to set up a two-run dinger from George Springer, trimming the lead to 7-5. With Valdez struggling mightily, Houston made the call to their bullpen earlier than they would have liked, bringing in Joe Smith for the bottom of the sixth.

Smith was able to work around a one-out double, getting a scoreless inning to keep the game at 7-5 going into the seventh. With Houston unable to convert another scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh, Collin McHugh took over on the mound in the bottom half of the inning, but he would be unable to get a clean inning, allowing two more runs to put the lead back at four runs.

George Springer continued doing his part, getting his second home run in as many at-bats to lead off the eighth inning, making it 9-6. Houston tasked McHugh with one more inning to try and conserve as much of their bullpen as possible, and he was able to deliver with a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.

Houston would go scoreless in the top of the ninth, ending the all-around ugly game and starting the series with a loss.

Up Next: The next game in this series will be another west-coast start at 9:07 PM on Tuesday. The Angels are expected to start Andrew Heaney (1-3, 5.18 ERA) while the Astros have not decided who they will send out first in what will likely be a bullpen day.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

Earlier this week after the Astros were punished by MLB for sign-stealing, Dodgers fans were losing their minds about being cheated out of a World Series in 2017. A life-long Dodgers fan, Jose Lara, says he is speaking with an attorney about suing MLB for the amount of money he spent going to Game 7 of the World Series in 2017. It's hard to imagine he has any chance of winning his case, but that's not the point.

It seems nobody remembers that the Dodgers were accused of stealing signs back in May of 2019. The Mets and the Brewers have both accused the Dodgers. I'm going to stick to the accusations from the Brewers, but you can read about the Mets concerns with the Dodgers here. According to The Athletic's Robert Murray, the Brewers were suspicious the Dodgers were using cameras to steal signs with help from the video department. Sound familiar? "They use video people to get sequences," a Brewers source told The Athletic about the Dodgers in October of 2018.

And let's not forget the Red Sox claiming they caught Dodgers 3rd baseman Manny Machado relaying signs from 2nd base in the 2018 World Series. It's clear from MLB's investigation of the Astros that Alex Cora would definitely know what to look for when it comes to stealing signs.

The point is, there is a ton of heat on the Astros right now and deservedly so, but it seems like MLB is just starting to figure out that a lot of teams have been doing this as recently as last year. They need to look into all these reports, the teams involved, and make sure they punish everyone equally. You can't just punish the first team that got caught and let everyone else get away with it. If you're truly going to clean up baseball, you have to hold everyone accountable.

Hopefully a team like the Dodgers gets exposed sooner than later, so the Astros are finally out of the spotlight.

Let's go MLB, get to it!

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