Astros outslug the Rockies for fourth straight win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 9-8 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a successful weekend series sweep against the Mariners at home in Houston, the Astros had Monday off before starting a two-game series with the Rockies in Colorado. Here is a quick rundown of the first of the two games that took place Tuesday night:

Final Score: Astros 9, Rockies 8.

Record: 54-32, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Will Harris (3-1, 1.44 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jake McGee (0-1, 1.89 ERA).

1) Decent debut for Urquidy

With Brad Peacock landing on the injured list, the Astros made a move to bring up Jose Urquidy to make his MLB debut on the mound to start Tuesday's game. It was a tough task in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, which Urquidy learned immediately.

He allowed back-to-back two-out doubles to Colorado in the bottom of the first, allowing the Rockies to tie the game 1-1 after the Astros had gone up 1-0 in the top of the inning. He would give up more hits in the next inning, starting it with back-to-back singles before a wild pitch scored a run to tie the game 2-2.

Urquidy would get out of that inning, then had his best inning in the third with his only 1-2-3 inning of his start. He would put more runners on in the fourth after some struggling defense behind him, and with his pitch count rising would have his debut ended somewhat early. Jose's final line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

2) Yuli Gurriel stays hot to power the offense 

If his back-to-back walk-off hits over the weekend weren't enough, Yuli Gurriel was taking charge at the plate in this game to keep Houston's offense in the driver's seat. After a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman in the first gave the Astros their first run, Gurriel hit a solo home run in the second which gave them a 2-1 lead.

After the Rockies tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the second, Michael Brantley gave Houston the lead right back in the top of the third with a two-RBI double, then Gurriel added another RBI on a single to extend the lead further to 5-2. After the bullpen blew that lead and had Houston down 8-5, the Astros had another big inning in the top of the seventh.

They started the inning by hitting back-to-back-to-back doubles from George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman, scoring two runs to trim the lead to one at 8-7. Brantley moved Bregman to third, but which base he was on would not matter because Gurriel would get his third and fourth RBIs and a second homer on the night with a one-out blast to regain the lead for the Astros at 9-8.

3) James melts down in the fifth, rest of the bullpen holds

Josh James was first out of the bullpen to finish off the fourth for Urquidy, which he did with a strikeout to end the inning. However, James would return in the fifth and have a disastrous time, blowing the three-run lead by allowing Colorado to score five runs on three hits including walking in a run with the bases loaded, handing the Rockies a 7-5 lead.

Will Harris took over in the bottom of the sixth trying to keep it only a two-run deficit, but he too would find himself in a jam, loading the bases with no outs on three consecutive singles to start the inning. He would limit the damage to just one run, increasing Houston's deficit to three runs at 8-5.

After another big inning in the top of the seventh to bail out Houston's pitching again, Chris Devenski was next on the mound in the bottom of the inning with a freshly acquired one-run lead. He was able to work around a leadoff walk to get through the scoreless inning with a couple of strikeouts.

Ryan Pressly took over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was able to get one of the best innings of the night for Houston pitching by retiring a tough part of Colorado's lineup in order including two strikeouts. That gave Roberto Osuna another save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, and he would get it by finishing off the 9-8 win.

Up Next: The Astros will wrap up this quick series tomorrow night the second of these two games starting at 7:10 PM. Wade Miley (6-4, 3.39 ERA) will get the start for Houston and go opposite of Peter Lambert (2-0, 6.57 ERA) for Colorado.

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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