Astros demolish the A's to start the series

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 11-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Riding a five-game winning streak including a sweep of the Rangers over the weekend, the Astros began a series with the A's on Monday night. Here is a recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 11, A's 1.

Record: 65-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (11-5, 3.03 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Homer Bailey (8-7, 5.42 ERA).

1) 11 runs on the anniversary of Apollo 11

Sometimes you can't predict a story so fitting. After a scoreless first inning, Houston's offense erupted in the second and third innings. It started with Yordan Alvarez who led off the bottom of the second with his eleventh home run. The solo shot to put the Astros on the board at 1-0.

That opened the floodgates as they would go on to score three more runs on an RBI-single by George Springer, RBI-walk by Jose Altuve with the bases loaded, and an RBI-groundout by Alex Bregman. That put Alvarez back at the plate to lead off the third, and he would again spark a big inning.

He walked, setting up a two-run home run by Yuli Gurriel to maintain his unreal pace in recent weeks. They put the next two batters on, which brought Aledmys Diaz to the plate in his first game back from the injured list. He reminded everyone of his power, hitting a home run of his own to score three more runs.

Alvarez would bat again later in the same inning, getting an RBI-double to raise his season total to 35 over his first 30 games. That set a new MLB record over that span of games to start a career. Then, in the next at-bat, Yuli Gurriel would provide another run in the inning on an RBI-single. That made it a seven-run inning, but more notably, gave the Astros an 11-0 lead by scoring eleven runs on eleven hits — all on a night to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

2) Cole reaches 200 strikeouts with 11 on the night, gets win 11 on the year

It was just another ho-hum night for Gerrit Cole on Monday. He started on fire, striking out four of the first six batters he faced. He allowed his first hits of the night in the fourth, a couple of doubles which scored a run to make it an 11-1 game.

That run was overshadowed quickly by a milestone set by Cole in the start; he recorded the second-fastest time to reach 200 strikeouts in a season. In addition to that, Cole threw yet another double-digit strikeout start. He finished the sixth inning with ten and with a pitch count of 95.

That meant he would get the chance to start the seventh inning and attempt to get strikeout number 11. Not only did he start the top of the seventh with that eleventh strikeout, but he would also go on to complete the inning. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11K, 0 HR.

With Cole's terrific night done, Houston went to their bullpen for the final two innings. First up was Hector Rondon who had a scoreless eighth inning. Then, Joe Smith came in for the ninth inning to close things out for Houston's sixth-straight win.

Up Next: Houston will attempt to extend their winning streak to seven games with another game against Oakland tomorrow night at home. The start time is 7:10 PM with an expected pitching matchup of Mike Fiers (9-3, 3.64 ERA) for the A's going up against Wade Miley (8-4, 3.25 ERA) for the Astros.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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DeMeco Ryans feels like the perfect fit. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

There’s one big difference between the Houston Texans and the Canadian Mounties.

The Mounties always get their man. The Texans not so much. That’s how second and third (and desperation) choices like David Culley, who never even was a coordinator in his nearly 30-year NFL career, and Lovie Smith, whose top credential for the job was being in the building, got to be Texans head coaches the past two years. Both of whom were one and done – summarily fired after disheartening, aimless seasons.

But that all changes with the imminent hiring of 38-year-old DeMeco Ryans as Texans head coach. An announcement could come any moment.

With one bold stroke, the Texans will be cleaning up a mess that took years to fester. Ryans is the perfect candidate for the job. He was drafted out of Alabama by the Texans in 2006 and became Defensive Rookie of the Year and All-Pro linebacker. He played six years in Houston when, lest we forget, the Texans developed into a winning team bound for the playoffs.

After retiring in 2017, Ryans became a successful coach with the San Francisco 49ers, rising quickly from defensive quality control to inside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator the past two seasons. This year, the 49ers had the stingiest defense in the league with the fewest points and yards allowed. They allowed their opponents to score on less than 25 percent of their drives – far and away the best performance in the NFL.

The Texans want Ryans and Ryans, who was the hottest head coach candidate on several teams’ wish list, wants the Texans. He’s reportedly said no thanks to the Denver Broncos, a team which appears to have a faster track to rebuilding than the Texans. Contrary to Thomas Wolfe’s classic novel, Ryans believes that you can go home again.

Ryans will accomplish some immediate fixes for the Texans – like bringing respectability to the franchise and soothing wounds with the fan base. The team desperately needs a kick in its image. As recently as five years ago, the Texans were selling out every home game at NRG Stadium with tens of thousands of home-viewing fans wishin’ and hopin’ to buy season tickets.

Then came Bill O’Brien, criminally one-sided trades (in the wrong direction), a divisive and unpopular executive with the owner’s ear, the Deshaun Watson scandal, two head coaches plucked off the scrap heap, and losing … lots and lots of losing. The Texans finished their recent season with three wins and the undisputed crown of most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL.

The jewel of that damning crown was winning a game they needed to lose to guarantee the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. You’d think that losing would be the easiest thing for the Texans. It’s sort of become their thing.

Not only did they win, they did it the hard way, by going for two in the last minute of their last game and winning by a single point. By winning they forfeited their unobstructed and worry-free path to drafting the quarterback of their choosing. Who thinks to do that? Now they have to wait to see what the Chicago Bears will do with the No. 1 pick.

Ryans will require time, probably a few years at least, to restore the Texans to the ranks of playoff contenders. In blunt terms, the Texans currently stink. They won three games in 2022 after back-to-back four-win seasons. On defense, they were 27th in points allowed. They were 31st in rushing yards allowed. On offense, 31st in yards per game, 31st in rushing, and 31st in third down conversions. There’s only 32 teams in the NFL.

Of course you can cherry pick stats to make a team look good or bad. With the Texans, they’re all bad.

Their returning starting quarterback won’t be starting next season. That’s the plan, anyway. The Texans are expected to draft quarterbacks Bryce Young of Alabama, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State or Will Levis of Kentucky with their No. 2 pick. The Texans may sign a free agent veteran signal caller or trade for one.

And start from scratch. Again. At least this time with a coach that brings hope back to Houston.

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