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.

Houston Astros/Facebook

The Astros had a bad 4-6 road trip and looked forward to getting home to Minute Maid Park where they have been dominant this season. The pitiful Detroit Tigers arrived in Houston with a record since the All Star Break of nine wins and 27 losses. They literally do not have one non-pitcher who would make a healthy Astros' roster. That includes the way over the hill sure fire Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. Splitting four games at home with the Tigers would have been a fail. The Astros did not fail, though "only" taking three out of four seems a little disappointing. The S.S. Astros Good Ship Lollipop has sprung a couple of leaks. Neither that can't be plugged with good health, but the Astros have two notable health issues.

Carlos Correa's next endorsement deal should be for peanut brittle, emphasis not on the peanut. Some guys just have a propensity toward getting injured. Unfortunately the Correa resume grows that he is one of those guys. That back problems have resurfaced is troubling, to no one more so than Correa himself. It's clear the guy loves the game and is spectacularly talented, but durability is one component of greatness and to this point Correa simply has not demonstrated durability. If he can't produce a fully healthy bigtime season or two in the next year or two, any visions of a Manny Machado-like 10 year 300 million dollar contract will be up in smoke. Still, Correa turns only 25 years old next month so there's time to prove sturdiness, but more sand has seeped through the hourglass. For the 2019 Astros the dropdown is huge from Correa at shortstop to either Miles Straw or Aledmys Diaz being in the lineup. As for 2020, please tell anyone saying the Astros should trade Correa to be quiet.

The loss of Ryan Pressly for most if not all of the rest of the regular season is a big blow to the bullpen. Of even bigger concern is whether he can get back and get sharp to start the postseason.

This doesn't mean the ship is sinking. The Astros enter the weekend just one game behind the Yankees for the best record in the American League, and the Astros own the tiebreaker (having won the season series 4-3). They are three back of the Dodgers for best in MLB, the Astros have a three game lead in the tiebreaker with LA (intradivision record). The Yankees play at the Dodgers this weekend so if you're a glass half full person: a Dodger or Yankee loss is guaranteed three days in a row! If you're glass half empty: a Dodger or Yankee win is guaranteed three days in a row!

NFL on the horizon

A little over 2 weeks until the Texans begin their 18th season of play in the National Football League. We've all heard the saying, the 18th time is the charm. So is this the season the Texans are finally a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Probably not. The Texans do not look like a notably improved football team. On paper their schedule is clearly more difficult than last season's. Within the AFC the Chiefs clearly have more overall talent and are better coached. The Patriots still exist. One of these years Tom Brady really will slip. Maybe at age 42 this is the season.

If Jadeveon Clowney opts to sit out, or is traded, anyone thinking he won't be missed, is wrong. Clowney is not a superstar but he's really good. The Texans will be easier to run on without him. And while not an elite pass rusher, Clowney has to be accounted for. Anyone thinking, ah, he's hurt all the time anyway…wrong again. Clowney missed one game last season, and the season before that he played in every game.

If you want a couple of reasons for plausible optimism, here you go. Coming off of last season Deshaun Watson does not rate as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. He could well vault into that echelon this season. The Texans' offensive line remains something between a question mark and a glaring weakness, but really, can it be worse than it was the last couple of seasons? DeAndre Hopkins is about as good as it gets today at wide receiver, the same for J.J. Watt at defensive end though the clock is ticking down on his prime.

The Texans probably begin their season by losing at New Orleans. On the other hand the Buccaneers started their 5-11 2018 season by beating the 13-3 to be Saints in New Orleans.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Connor McGregor pitches some "number 12" brand of whisky. As a human being he seems much more a piece of number two. 2. Two peas in a pitching pod: Justin Verlander 15-5, 2.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts. Gerrit Cole 15-5, 2.75 ERA, 238 strikeouts. 3. Worst tasting vegetables: Bronze-kale Silver-peas Gold-lima beans


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