Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 2-0 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their full, healthy lineup together in an AL park for the first time since the early season, the Astros tried to start the three-game series against the Indians with a win. Here is how their effort went:

Final Score: Astros 2, Indians 0.

Record: 69-39, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (14-4, 2.73 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Shane Bieber (10-4, 3.40 ERA).

1) Verlander wins the pitching battle 

The pitching matchup in the series opener was as advertised, with All-Stars Justin Verlander and Shane Bieber both making it tough for opposing lineups. However, Verlander was the winner of that battle, with another terrific start to add to his 2019 Cy Young bid.

Verlander allowed just two hits over his seven innings of work, a single in the third and another in the sixth. Those were the only two baserunners that Cleveland could manage against Verlander, who had his arsenal in absolute lock-down in the start.

He also recorded his second-highest strikeouts in a start this season, getting thirteen on the night. His final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 0 HR.

2) Two runs in the fifth are the difference

While the Astros were able to get hits against Shane Bieber, they would not be able to turn them into runs until the fifth inning. The first change in the scoreboard came by way of a solo home run by Robinson Chirinos with one out in the top of the inning.

With two outs, Jose Altuve moved to 3-for-3 on the night with a double, pushing his average above .300 at .301. That set up Michael Brantley, who was next to the plate, for an RBI-single to extend the lead to 2-0.

With Verlander's night done after seven two-hit innings, Will Harris took over on the mound in the eighth. He would get through that inning by retiring the Indians in order, then Roberto Osuna recorded his 24th save of the year in the ninth to close out the win.

Up Next: This series will continue tomorrow with another 6:10 PM start for game two of three between the Astros and Indians. Houston will send Jose Urquidy (1-0, 4.26 ERA) to the mound to try and build on his recent success and secure the series win, while Cleveland is expected to start Zach Plesac (5-3, 3.10 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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