Astros complete the series sweep with win in extra innings

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With two wins in the books, the Astros looked for the sweep on Sunday afternoon with Gerrit Cole on the mound. Here is how the game went down:

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 6, A's 4.

Record: 40-20, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Josh James (3-0, 4.78 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lou Trevino (2-3, 4.25 ERA).

1) Unusual day for Cole

Gerrit Cole did not have his best stuff on Sunday but still managed to come out of it with a win. Cole was not his usual dominant self, which showed in the bottom of the second inning when he allowed the A's to go ahead 2-1 on two solo home runs.

Still, he was able to keep Oakland to just those two runs, but it came with a lot more balls in play than strikeouts, resulting in his lowest strikeout total in a game this season at four. He'd leave the game in line for the win after six innings, posting a final line of 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

2) Straw scores three times including the go-ahead in extras

Derek Fisher started the game with a ground-rule double to give the Astros and immediate scoring opportunity in the top of the first inning. Two outs later Yuli Gurriel would convert the opportunity, hitting an RBI-double to get the quick 1-0 lead.

Down 2-1 in the fifth, the Astros strung together some more offense by putting runners on the corners before both would score on an error-filled play to put Houston back in front 3-2. Myles Straw's speed helped manufacture another run in the seventh. Straw worked a one-out walk, stole second easily, then scored from second on an RBI-single by Derek Fisher, extending Houston's lead to 4-2.

Straw would prove vital yet again in the top of the twelfth inning, leading the inning off with a single, stealing second (yes, again), then scoring on a one-out RBI single by Michael Brantley to put Houston back in front 5-4. They'd tack on another before the inning was over on an RBI-single from Gurriel, his second RBI of the day to make it a 6-4 Houston advantage.

3) Rough start for bullpen, great finish

Will Harris, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the night before, was called on for the seventh during which he'd allow a solo home run to get the A's within one at 4-3. Ryan Pressly took over for the eighth inning in the one-run game, but he'd allow a rare run on a solo home run to tie the game at 4-4 before getting out of the inning.

With the game tied, it was Hector Rondon brought in for the ninth, and he'd send the game to extra innings with a scoreless inning. After already being warmed up, Roberto Osuna came in for the bottom of the tenth to extend the game further, and would do so by working around a leadoff single with three-straight strikeouts to end the inning. Josh James was next up for the bottom of the eleventh, and was able to retire the side to force yet another inning.

After getting two runs in the top of the inning, James stayed in the game to put an end to things, and did so, completing the series sweep with a scoreless inning in the bottom of the twelfth.

Up Next: Houston will continue this west coast road trip by starting a four-game series with the Mariners tomorrow at 9:00 PM. Corbin Martin (1-1, 5.51 ERA) will be on the mound for the Astros looking to rebound from a few rough starts. Wade LeBlanc (2-2, 6.99 ERA) will pitch for the Mariners.

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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