Astros win series opener against the Rangers

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-3 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Back at home after a series split in Los Angeles, the Astros looked to work on little sleep in the series opener against the Rangers. Here is a quick rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 3.

Record: 62-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.99 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Mike Minor (8-5, 2.86 ERA).

1) Gurriel stays red hot to start up the offense

After a scoreless first inning, Houston jumped out to a 1-0 lead off the bat of Yuli Gurriel who hit his ninth home run in the month of July in the bottom of the second. That started a home run barrage that would take place in the bottom of the third.

It started with Jose Altuve who led off the inning with a solo home run to extend the lead to 2-0. Not to be outdone, Alex Bregman was up next and hit one of his own to make it 3-0. Still not avoiding batters, Mike Minor left a fastball in the zone to Yordan Alvarez in the next at-bat, which he turned around for a colossal home run, 474 feet to make it back-to-back-to-back home runs and a 4-0 Houston lead.

2) Verlander with a great start, gets tagged late

While the offense was putting up highlights of their own, Justin Verlander was quietly stringing together another gem of a start. While he had no 1-2-3 innings, the outs he was getting were mostly via strikeout.

After not allowing a run through the first 5.2 innings of his six innings of work, Verlander would give up back-to-back home runs to put a slight stain on his otherwise dominant night. He would finish off the sixth with his twelfth strikeout of the night on his 116th pitch, leaving the game with a 4-2 lead.

That made it a season-high in pitch count for Verlander and matched his second-highest strikeout total. His final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 2 HR.

3) Bullpen holds Rangers down to finish things off

With Verlander's night complete after six innings, Houston went to their bullpen for the final three. Will Harris was the first reliever on the mound, taking over in the seventh. He faced a tough inning, watching a runner reach on an error before allowing a hit then a passed ball to set up an RBI-groundout to trim the lead to one run at 4-3. Harris would limit the damage there, though, preserving Houston's lead another inning.

Josh James also found it tough to get through the Rangers quickly, allowing a single and a walk in the top of the eighth. He worked around the trouble, stranding both runners to keep it at 4-3. Roberto Osuna would come in for the save in the top of the ninth and would get it for his twenty-first of the season.

Up Next: This series will continue tomorrow with the first pitch of game two at 6:10 PM on Saturday. The Astros will likely have another bullpen day and therefore have no dedicated started named yet, but the Rangers are expected to start Ariel Jurado (5-5, 4.63 ERA). Houston was able to knock Jurado out after five runs in four innings in his last start.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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