Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-0 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Houston needed a win on Saturday night to even the series at a game apiece after dropping the opening game the night prior. Here is how the game went:

Final Score: Astros 4, Angels 0.

Record: 56-33, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.09 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Andrew Heaney (1-3, 5.18 ERA).

1) Award-winning pitching by Cole

Gerrit Cole, the recipient of the AL pitcher of the month award for his month of June, kept his streak of strong starts alive with a tremendous performance on national television on Saturday night. On a night where he wasn't able to record the double-digit strikeout performance he usually provides, it was still a gem to watch, with Cole only allowing three hits over seven shutout innings.

Cole was peppering in fastballs over 100 mph consistently, including the last pitch of his night, a 101 mph heater to get his ninth strikeout and end the top of the seventh inning on his 110th pitch. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.

2) Offense backs him up with some runs 

While Cole was stringing together scoreless inning after inning, Houston's bats were able to give him some support with a few runs along the way as well. The first run of the night came in the bottom of the fourth after Alex Bregman led the inning off with a single, then later scored on a two-out RBI-single by Josh Reddick.

Bregman would play a part in another scoring play in the next inning, getting a two-out RBI of his own with a double to extend the lead to 2-0. Yuli Gurriel, a name seen in many of the Astros' highlights over the last week, led the bottom of the sixth inning by sneaking a home run over the right field wall, making it a 3-0 Houston advantage.

Bregman would yet again factor into another run, working a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh before scoring on a double by Yordan Alvarez that just barely missed being a home run, but instead bounced off the top of the right field wall and back into play. That made it a 4-0 advantage, which they'd hold on to for the win.

3) Pressly and McHugh close it out

With Cole able to finish out seven innings, Houston was in the position to put in their regular eighth and ninth inning relievers: Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. Pressly took over on the mound in the eighth, and despite loading the bases on a couple of walks and a single, was able to keep the game at 4-0.

With the lead still at four runs going into the ninth, making it a non-save situation, the Astros chose to let Collin McHugh have the ninth instead of Osuna. McHugh did his job, closing out the shutout win by striking out the side to even the series and make Sunday's game a winner-take-all.

Up Next: The Astros will wrap up this series and head into the All-Star break with the final game of the first half of the season at 1:10 PM tomorrow. The expected pitching matchup for the rubber game is Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.40 ERA) for Los Angeles and Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.91 ERA) for Houston, making his second career start.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Houston's young players are impressing in September

Young talent continues to shine for the Astros

Rich Schultz / Getty Images

At the beginning of the month, the Astros took advantage of the current rules allowing teams in September to expand their major-league roster by bringing up some key players from their AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express. Bringing them up was beneficial for both the Astros and the players, as it gave the team a chance to rest key players down the stretch, fill some holes due to injury, and provide these young prospects a chance to show what level of performance they are capable of producing in the big leagues.

While Houston had a disappointing stretch of games this past week by dropping three-straight to division-rivals Oakland, this month has otherwise been very successful for the Astros. They continue to inch closer to their magic number to clinch the division, as well as staying in step with the Yankees for the best AL and overall record to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs. The success in September, in part, has been a result of these young stars being available and ready to contribute when called on.

Toro and Straw have taken advantage of their opportunities

Let's first take a look at some of the guys who are not as high-profile as the other two we'll get to later. Abraham Toro joined the team in late August to fill an infield spot while both Carlos Correa and Aledmys Diaz missed time with injury. His most exciting moment so far was when he delivered the only runs in a tightly contested game in Toronto against the Blue Jays, a two-run home run in the top of the ninth which would ultimately be the difference in a no-hitter for Justin Verlander.

While that was one of his most significant offensive highlights, he has also been solid on defense, filling in at third base while Alex Bregman has covered shortstop for a recovering Carlos Correa. While he likely doesn't make the postseason roster, Toro has shown that should the Astros need a third baseman, whether due to injury or possibly in the years to come with players moving on to other clubs, that he could be their guy.

Another contributor this month has been Myles Straw. While I originally had him on the outside looking in with my playoff roster predictions, the frequency at which Houston has used him as a pinch-runner has shown that they consider him an asset for his speed on the basepaths. Straw alone has scored seven of Houston's 90 runs this month, many of which coming after he was put in as a runner late in a game. That's not to say that's his only strength; he's 4-for-9 at the plate this month and has shown strength on defense as well. Considering the bullpen is starting to get healthy, he could very well find himself on the Astros' bench in the playoffs.

Kyle Tucker has finally broken through 


Many, including myself, were highly anticipating Kyle Tucker's call up in 2018. It, unfortunately, did not live up to the hype; as Tucker would end up going 9-for-64 and a .141 average, no home runs, and just 4 RBIs in his 28 games played in the second half of the 2018 season.

This year is an entirely different story, though, as not only did he have another terrific year in AAA to warrant another chance on the major-league roster, he has finally translated his minor-league success to the big leagues. He already has more hits (13) in his thirteen games in September as he did in his 28-game 2018 debut.

Not only has he been able to notch more hits, but he has also recorded his first and second career home runs along with six other RBIs to double his total from last season (eight versus four). Whether it was some bad luck or improved mechanics, the 2019 version of Kyle Tucker is vastly superior to what we saw in 2018.

Yordan Alvarez is simply unreal


While the players mentioned above are all great in their own right, there is still one young player that has stolen the spotlight on Houston's roster. That is Yordan Alvarez. We're running out of superlatives and records for him to exceed. Had Alvarez been with the Astros from the start of the season, we may not only be talking about the best rookie season ever but one of the best overall seasons by a player, period.

Sure, roughly half of Alvarez's dominance this year came against minor-league talent, but he has been just as dominant in the majors since his debut on June 9th. When you combine his overall statistics between the minors and majors this year, you see an incredible .333 average, 48 home runs, and 146 RBIs. For perspective, although he has spent some time away with injury, the absolute best player in the game, Mike Trout, currently sits with a .291 average, 45 home runs, and 104 RBIs.

He has already locked himself in as the sure American League Rookie of the Year, but now the question is: what can he do with a full season in the major leagues? I am looking forward to seeing how he steps up to the big moments he could be put in during the playoffs this year. Can he deliver these same numbers against the absolute best in the game? I think so, but we will have to wait until October to know for sure.

While the Astros certainly have one of the best set of veterans in the game, the last few months have been a chance to see what may be on the horizon for some of Houston's young talent that will likely be contributing towards more success for their team for years to come.

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