Correa and Cole help Astros even the series

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 8-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their bullpen having a disappointing performance resulting in a loss in the series opener, the Astros looked to Gerrit Cole on Saturday to even the series with the Cardinals. Here is a rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 8, Cardinals 2.

Record: 67-39, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (12-5, 2.94 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-1, 3.76 ERA).

1) Correa leads an early offensive charge

Houston took advantage of a struggling Daniel Ponce de Leon early in the game, starting in the first inning. They put runners on the corners with one out, setting up Michael Brantley for an RBI-groundout to start the scoring at 1-0. Carlos Correa doubled that lead in the next at-bat, getting an RBI-single to make it 2-0 in his biggest hit since returning to the lineup.

They put more traffic on base in the third inning, working three consecutive one-out walks, bringing Correa back to the plate. He put up an even bigger highlight than his hit in the first, launching a grand slam to make it a 6-0 game and giving him five RBIs through the first three innings.

2) Cole stays hot

Gerrit Cole continued his hot summer, giving his team yet another dominant start on Saturday night. He allowed just one run, a solo homer to Paul Goldschmidt who has been unstoppable of late. Otherwise, it was another steady, strong night for Houston's other Cy Young contender.

The only thing unusual for Cole in the start was that he didn't record his normal double-digit strikeouts. Instead, he saw a lot more balls in play, though he did not allow more than two hits in any inning. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston evens the series

With Cole leaving with a 6-1 lead after seven innings, it should have been easy work for the bullpen to wrap up the last two innings for the win. George Springer helped add some further insurance, though, getting a two-RBI double off the wall in the top of the eighth to extend the lead to 8-1.

Joe Smith was the first reliever out of the bullpen and despite allowing a run to score made it through the eighth inning. During the inning, Carlos Correa would field a force-out from Jose Altuve at second but ended up taking a cleat spike to the arm from the incoming slide. He remained in the game to finish the inning.

Hector Rondon had the ninth, and preserved the six-run lead to finish off the win and put the series even at a game apiece.

Up Next: These two teams will conclude this series tomorrow with a 1:15 PM start time with the series on the line. Houston is expected to start quick-working Wade Miley (8-4, 3.18 ERA), while the Cardinals will counter with Dakota Hudson (10-4, 3.61 ERA).

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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