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.

There are plenty of reasons to watch

An exciting week ahead for the Astros

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the disappointing 12-0 blowout loss to the Blue Jays on Father's Day to end last week, Houston will turn the page to a new one with some compelling components to look forward to in the next seven days. With a full seven-game week ahead, here are some of the things to be watching for:

The Alvarez roadshow

We are six games into the Yordan Alvarez experience, and over those six games, he has homered in four. Some of those would have been home runs nearly anywhere, but this week we will get to see how he handles leaving the confines of Minute Maid Park.

Luckily for Alvarez, both Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Yankee Stadium in New York provide a boost for left-handed hitters, especially Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field. He'll also potentially get to face some pitchers who have been struggling with the long ball in Tyler Mahle for the Reds and J.A. Happ for the Yankees. It should shape up to be another big week at the plate for Alvarez, maintaining his at-bats as being much-watch TV.

Pitchers hitting in Cincinnati 

Houston will make their first trip to a National League park in 2019 to start the week with a three-game series with the Reds. The inter-league matchup presents the rare opportunity to see the DH-less Astros send their pitcher to the plate to try and contribute on offense.

The three pitchers we will get to see: Wade Miley, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole. Miley has a career batting average of .155 including one home run from back in 2013 with the Diamondbacks. Last year with the Brewers he hit .185 with five hits and a walk over 27 at-bats.

Cole is no stranger to the batter's box, playing the first five years of his career in the National League for Pittsburgh. He's a career .168 hitter and hit a home run in three out of his five seasons with the Pirates. However, he lost a little bit of his swing last season, going 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts for the Astros in his first season as part of his new American League team.

Then there's Justin Verlander. He has played in the AL his entire career, making him mostly a stranger at the plate. That makes it no surprise that his batting numbers aren't quite at the level of his dominant pitching numbers, hitting just .104 in his career. He has notched an RBI, though, getting the first of his career in 2017 for the Tigers before coming over to Houston.

So with that, it should be an entertaining series to start the week, and will likely make fans of the American League relish the fact that they get to have a Designated Hitter in the lineup every day.

Two starts for Verlander

While he may not be an All-Star with a bat, he's definitely on track to a lot of awards this year on the mound. Verlander is scheduled to make two starts this week, one on Tuesday night against the Reds, then another on Sunday in New York against the Yankees.

Not only does that mean two chances to see if Verlander can keep up the breakneck pace he's on in 2019, but it will also mean moving up another spot on the all-time strikeout list. At 2,831 in his career, he's just one away from tying, and two from passing, Mickey Lolich for the 19th spot on the famed list. Lolich has a connection with Justin, as he pitched thirteen seasons with the Tigers between 1963 and 1975.

Once Verlander takes over that spot, next up will be Jim Bunning who sits in 18th with 2,855 strikeouts, 24 ahead of the Astros' ace. Considering he threw 15 Ks in his last start, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be tied or in sole possession of that 18th spot before the week is over, though to do so he'll have to have a fantastic game against a very potent Yankees lineup.

Potential pieces coming back into place

We should know more after tomorrow's game which will be a back-to-back start for the former-MVP, but the Astros are expected to have Jose Altuve rejoin the team while on this road trip. Not that the Astros have been horrid on offense without him, but having him back on the field will provide an uptick in performance, and moral.

Two other players in similar situations as Altuve and expected to come back up are Max Stassi and Collin McHugh. Stassi will likely retake his roster spot as the backup catcher, meaning Garret Stubbs will make the trip back to Round Rock. As far as McHugh, we will have to wait and see if he makes some appearances out of the bullpen to ramp things back up before going back into the rotation, or if AJ Hinch has other plans going forward.

In any case, getting some of these players back means the team is getting healthy again. George Springer has been ramping up activities, and we should hear about a rehab assignment for him soon. Carlos Correa, however, remains sidelined and the Astros should remain conservative with his recovery.

Huge weekend series in the Bronx 

After the three-game set in Cincinnati against the Reds, the Astros will travel to New York for a big four-game weekend series with the Yankees. The Yankees made a big splash in the trade market this past week, taking advantage of a liquidating Mariners team who was willing to deal Edwin Encarnacion to New York for a lone prospect player along with some cash trading. Encarnacion currently leads the American League in home runs, giving the Yankees yet another mighty bat in their lineup.

Two of the other powerful batters that are scheduled to make returns to the lineup this week: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are currently on rehab stints and expected to rejoin the major-league team before this week is over. The Yankees will catch the 3-4-5-1 spots in Houston's rotation, which will be an intriguing matchup on both sides.

In any case, no matter who we see back in the lineups this weekend, it's going to be a fun and high-intensity matchup with these two teams currently both in the top four in win-loss records in the league. Also, the Yankees will likely be out to even the score after the Astros swept them in Houston in a three-game series in early April.

It sets up to be what many consider a preview of an ALDS or ALCS matchup between two of the best teams not only in the American League but the entire league.

Where will the Astros stand, both in their record and in roster spots, when this week concludes? It's hard to predict, but regardless, it should be a fun week to catch some Astros games on TV.

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