Astros drop game one of three to Angels

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 5-4 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Riding a five-game winning steak, the Astros were back at home on Friday night after a day off looking to go into the All-Star break with another series win and sweep. Here is how the first of three games went:

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Record: 55-33, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Felix Pena (6-2, 4.72 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Justin Verlander (10-4, 2.98 ERA).

1) Verlander's struggle with home runs continues

After two quick innings to start the game, Justin Verlander would watch more balls leave the yard in the third inning, making it five straight games with a home run allowed as well as at least three earned runs after a two-run home run by Kole Calhoun then later a solo home run by Shohei Ohtani.

Verlander looked to be back in control after that, until the top of the sixth inning when he allowed a solo home run to lead off the inning, extending the Angels' lead to 4-2. The night didn't come without a highlight, though, as Verlander would get enough strikeouts to pass up Jim Bunning to take over 18th place on the all-time strikeout leaders list.

He would end up still getting through seven innings to save the bullpen's arms. Verlander's final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 HR.

2) Unable to close the gap

Michael Brantley was looking in All-Star form in his first at-bat, getting a solo home run to put Houston ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning. After Los Angeles scored three runs on homers of their own in the top of the third, the Astros trimmed their lead to one run when Yuli Gurriel scored Brantley on an RBI-groundout, making it 3-2.

The Angels extended their lead back to 4-2 in the sixth inning, and the Astros wasted a chance in the bottom half of the inning, getting runners on second and third with no outs, loading the bases with two outs, but coming away empty handed. Hector Rondon took over for Justin Verlander to pitch the eighth, but he too would fall victim of a Los Angeles home run, giving up a solo shot to Mike Trout to make it a 5-2 game.

The Astros got a shot in the arm in the bottom of the eighth, getting two more RBIs from Yuli Gurriel who continued his monster pace of late with a two-run home run to trim the lead to 5-4. Josh James was next out of the bullpen and pitched the ninth, a scoreless inning to keep it a one-run game.

Up Next: The Astros will be part of another nationally-televised Saturday evening game on FOX tomorrow at 6:15 PM. The probable starters are Gerrit Cole (8-5, 3.28 ERA) for the Astros going against Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.40 ERA) for the Angels.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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