Astros split the series with the Brewers

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After powering past the Brewers in the first of the two-game series, the Astros looked to get the mini-sweep on Wednesday night with Justin Verlander on the mound. Yordan Alvarez also sought to continue providing impact power in his third time in the lineup. Here is a quick rundown of the game:

Final Score: Brewers 6, Astros 3.

Record: 46-23, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Adrian Houser (2-1, 2.49 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Cionel Perez (1-1, 5.40 ERA).


1) Verlander battles against the long ball while fanning career-high 15 

One of the few blemishes on an otherwise great start to Justin Verlander's season: home runs. Verlander allowed a solo home run in each of the first two innings, making it 13 of his 15 starts that he has allowed a home run this season. He'd sit on the hook with the Brewers up 2-0 until the bottom of the fourth when Houston's offense was able to give him a lead.

He worked well with that lead through the middle innings, dominating the Brewers and allowing just one hit in the third through sixth innings. He had struck out six in a row before getting tagged with the third solo home run of the game in the top of the seventh, allowing the Brewers to tie the game 3-3.

Still, if you exclude the three solo home runs, he had a dominant night including hitting a new career-high in strikeouts. However, the three home runs would keep him out of contention for the win as his night ended after seven innings. Verlander's final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 15 K, 3 HR.

2) Astros get some two-out magic in the fourth

In a 2-0 hole and with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the Astros were able to string together some baserunners and take advantage to get on the board and take their first lead of the night. Yuli Gurriel started the sequence with a two-out single, followed by Yordan Alvarez who worked a walk.

Robinson Chirinos scored one on an RBI-single to cut the lead in half at 2-1, then Tony Kemp hit a ball that snuck into the left-center field corner around the Crawford Boxes to score two more and make it a 3-2 Houston advantage.

3) Bullpen holds Brewers back until the fourteenth

Ryan Pressly took over for Verlander to pitch the eighth inning, a scoreless frame with two strikeouts to keep the game tied at 3-3. After coming away empty-handed in the bottom of the eighth, Roberto Osuna took the mound for the top of the ninth to try and keep the game tied to the bottom of the ninth. He did so, but not without baserunners after he allowed two singles to put runners on the corners with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Brewers from scoring.

That put the power in Houston's hand for the bottom of the ninth, but Milwaukee's bullpen would hold, forcing extra innings. In the top of the tenth, Will Harris provided another scoreless inning, retiring the Brewers in order. Myles Straw came in as a pinch-hitter to lead off the bottom of the tenth and worked a walk to get his speed on base. Straw looked to steal second base, but instead, a review overturned the call on the field, then a double play sent the game to the eleventh.

Josh James was the next arm out of the bullpen for Houston in the top of the eleventh and struck out the side, but the game would go on. In the top of the twelfth, Hector Rondon worked around a leadoff walk to keep the game tied, then still going in the thirteenth Cionel Perez came in and made it another 1-2-3 inning.

Perez would try to keep going in the fourteenth inning, but the Brewers would finally break the tie with a two-run home run and RBI-single to go up 6-3 which would go down as the final score to make the series a split.

Up Next: Houston will get their second day off this week with Thursday being another chance for them to rest. Friday they'll start a three-game series with the Blue Jays for Father's Day weekend. The first game of the series will be at 7:10 PM Friday and is expected to feature Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.72 ERA) for the Astros opposite of Aaron Sanchez (3-7, 4.25 ERA) for Toronto. Cole will look to stay locked in after his seven-inning, fourteen-strikeout start last week.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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