Astros lock up the series win against the Rangers

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After taking the opener on Friday night, the Astros had their sights on locking up the series with a win over the Rangers on Saturday. Here is a recap of the middle game of the three-game set:

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 1.

Record: 63-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jose Urquidy (1-0, 5.54 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ariel Jurado (5-6, 4.92 ERA).

1) Gurriel cannot be stopped

It was Houston once again starting the scoring for the night, this time in the bottom of the third. Myles Straw led the inning off with a double, then came around to score on another double by George Springer. Springer would then also score no a one-out double by Michael Brantley, putting the Astros up 2-0.

The Astros quickly extended their lead in the fifth. It started with back-to-back two-out singles by Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez, bringing Yuli Gurriel to the plate. Gurriel continued his recent red-hot streak, drilling a home run to make it a 5-1 lead for Houston. The home run was Gurriel's thirteenth in his last twenty-one games, and the three runs from it brought his total in that same span of games to twenty-eight.

2) Brilliant start for Urquidy

Jose Urquidy received another chance to start on Saturday night while the Astros continue to try to figure out the fourth and fifth spots of the rotation. He took complete advantage of the opportunity, giving his team exactly what they needed with an extended outing.

Urquidy did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, though it would be a costly one in a solo home run which trimmed Houston's lead to 2-1 at the time. He quickly put that behind him, settling right back in and only allowing one other hit over the rest of his seven innings of work.

Along the way he also racked up nine strikeouts while issuing zero walks, further solidifying it as his best start so far in the big leagues. Urquidy's final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

3) Holding on to take the series

With Urquidy giving Houston seven innings, that meant only two innings of work for the bullpen. Chris Devenski took over for the top of the eighth and struck out the side on fourteen pitches. Hector Rondon was given the ninth with the five-run lead, looking to put his most recent outing behind him. He did so, getting a 1-2-3 inning to finish off the victory.

The win not only secured a win in this series but a win in the season series with the Astros taking their tenth of the nineteen-game series.

Up Next: The Astros and Rangers will conclude this series with the first pitch of the finale scheduled for 1:10 PM Sunday. Texas will have the best starter of their rotation on the mound in Lance Lynn (12-5, 3.87 ERA) while Houston will hope to get a solid start out of Rogelio Armenteros (0-0, 2.00 ERA) to get a weekend sweep.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

What a week.The Rockets look terrible in losing consecutive games to losing teams, and that doesn't register as the tiniest ripple in the week's pond of Houston sports woe. Pond? More like ocean.

The Astros are irrefutably confirmed for all-time as cheaters and liars over a multi-season period. Jim Crane is no idiot, but specifically on the issue of whether the Astros' 2017 World Series championship is tainted, Jim Crane is an idiot if he really thinks it is not. Astro lackeys, toadies, and homers should stop the "a bunch of other teams did it too!" and "Mike Fiers is an a-hole" lameness. The Astros were guilty, caught, and deserved to get hammered. If/when others are proven as guilty as the Astros, so should they be hammered.

So after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's lowering of a rightful boom, and then Jim Crane firing Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, what does it all mean for the 2020 Astros? It's a wow of a story, but really not a crisis. The loss of Gerrit Cole is much more meaningful. Luhnow's shoes are fairly easily filled for this season. Hence for now, Crane himself will head up baseball operations. The Astros weren't and aren't pursuing any meaningful free agents or major trades. Before his demise Luhnow finished the financial corner cutting moves that filled out the roster.

It's not as if Luhnow's personal expertise made all scouting, drafting, and signing decisions. And now the Astros have no first or second round pick to make this June anyway. 30 year old Pete Putila is the ranking baseball guy still employed by the club, but he is a branch of the Luhnow tree. If Crane's goal is the "housecleaning" he termed the Luhnow and Hinch firings as being, how can he promote a Luhnow lieutenant? Every front office in baseball has shrewd analytic minds, looking to move up. Crane can easily hire one of them.

As for field manager, Hinch was a great handler of people (well….with one kind of important exception) but this roster is strong enough to operate on autopilot to a good extent. Bench coach Joe Espada is highly regarded and been a finalist for other managerial gigs. But he was on Hinch's staff when cheating was ongoing in 2018. That seems pretty much disqualifying. Two known interviewees are quality options, though neither has skippered a team to the World Series. Buck Showalter was always extremely highly regarded, John Gibbons steered the Blue Jays to back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. Between those two I'd lean Showalter but either would be fine.

Remember The Texans

How thankful are Bill O'Brien and the Texans for the Astros' mess grabbing all the headlines not even 24 hours after the Texans' collapse in Kansas City? It's almost impossible to get blown out of an NFL game in which you lead 24-nothing. Almost. The Texans pulled it off! Won't that cute little AFC South Champion banner be extra cute when it hangs next season? Hangs like a dead man from a noose.

As I put it last week, the Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense, the Chiefs' defense better than the Texans' defense, and the Chiefs' coaching better than the Texans' coaching. But the way the game played out was still preposterous.

If Travis Kelce had beaten Lonnie Johnson any worse than he did Johnson's name should have been legally changed to Rented Mule. J.J. Watt was essentially a zero. No tackles, no assists on tackles, no sacks, no quarterback hits. Are you going to pay 15 and a half million dollars to a 31 year old Watt after his three major injuries in the last four seasons. That's a yes.

At least we have clarity that the Texans must dedicate their first round pick to a pass rusher or a defensive back. Wait, they don't have a first round pick. Well, in 2021 then. Wait. Bill O'Brien traded that away too. Speaking of O'Brien…

Opting for the field goal on fourth and one up 21-0 early second quarter was not indefensible. However, O'Brien's explanation for doing so was pitiful. The fake punt? Most agree, dumb.But not absolutely indefensible. This was the O'Brien Is Not Fit For Command moment of the game: He needed to use a timeout, with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Texans down 17, facing fourth and fourth and four, in Chiefs' territory, to decide to go for the first down rather than punt. A cinder block could have displayed the same game management IQ. O'Brien has three seasons left on his contract. Unless Cal McNair takes a decidedly different tack than his father did, O'Brien's job is as safe as any Supreme Court Justice's.

Speaking of Cal, since the loss he's been spotted as often and been as vocal this week as Alex Bregman.

Buzzer Beaters

1. So, if guaranteed the truth: For a million dollars is your bet Altuve was wearing something or not? 2. Alex Cora should be banned from ever again managing a Major League team. 3. Famous "scandals": Bronze-Teapot Dome Silver-Patty Smyth fronted band, had big hit with Goodbye to You Gold-Kerry Washington and the TV show.

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