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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Life after Correa may not be the worst thing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Carlos Correa is having a damn good year. The Astros shortstop is hitting .285 with 24 homers, 87 RBI, 72 walks, .862 OPS, a 7.2 WAR, and a .981 fielding percentage. In any other year, those would be numbers worthy of being in the mix for AL MVP (if it weren't for that dastardly Shohei Otani). Correa is also in a contract year. He and the Astros were far enough apart that the season started and he's held true to not wanting to negotiate midseason.

The offers of six years for $120 million and five years for $125 million were both rejected by he and his camp. They're seeking something much longer and for more money on the annual average. With the team unwilling to meet those demands, it seems as if the team and the player are headed for a split.

Lots of Astros fans are not happy with the prospect of Correa leaving via free agency. Some think the team isn't doing enough and should pony up to bring him back. Some feel Correa should take what they're offering because it's a fair deal that'll allow the team to sign other players. Then, there's that small band of us that are totally okay with him leaving.

One of the main reasons I'm okay with him leaving is the players the team still has under control that are potential replacements. Aledmys Diaz and Pedro Leon are the first two guys that come to mind. Diaz is a 31-year-old vet who's stepped up when he's called upon. He can slide over to third and allow Alex Bregman to play shortstop. Leon is the team's 23-year-old hot prospect who signed as an outfielder that the team has been trying to turn into a shortstop. If Correa were to leave, he could instantly plug the hole Carlos would leave behind. Either of those options lead to my next point of being okay with Correa leaving which is to...

...allocate that money elsewhere. Whether it's signing a replacement (at short or third), or boosting the pitching staff, I'll be fine as long as it's money well spent. Signing a shortstop or third baseman would determine where Bregman would be playing. If said player takes significantly less than Correa and fills 70-80% of his offensive shoes, it'll be worth it. Others will have to step it up. If they find a deal on a top of the rotation starting pitcher, that would be ideal as well. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, this team has employed a six-man rotation, but doesn't have a true ace. Spending anywhere from $20-30 million a year on a top-notch pitcher to add to the staff would bolster this staff in more ways than one. It'll finally give them the ace they lack, plus it'll bump all the young talent (still under team control) down a peg creating depth and perhaps even creating bullpen depth.

The only way any of this works is if Correa isn't back. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander's money comes off the books also. Freeing up that much payroll and not re-appropriating those resources to ensure this team stays in contention would be a first degree felony in sports court. I don't think Jim Crane wants that for this team. I for sure don't think James Click wants that as his legacy. Let's sit back and watch how the organization maneuvers this offseason and pray they get it right.


Editor's note: If you want to read the other side of the argument, check out Ken Hoffman's piece from Tuesday.

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