Astros make it back-to-back walk-off wins

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 4 hits from the 6-5 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Fresh off of their desperately-needed walk-off win on Friday night, the Astros hosted the Mariners for game two of the three-game weekend series which was televised nationally on FOX. Here is a quick recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 5.

Record: 52-32, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Chris Devenski (2-0, 4.58 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Roenis Elias (2-1, 3.55 ERA).

1) Exciting second inning

With the recent offensive struggles for Houston, Seattle taking a 2-0 lead on a home run off of Justin Verlander in the top of the second inning looked like a big blow to the Astros' chances in the game. However, they'd respond with a huge inning in the bottom half to resurrect their offensive momentum.

Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel worked back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the second, then with one out Josh Reddick induced an infield error which allowed Brantley to score, trimming the lead to 2-1. Jake Marisnick was up next and gave Houston their first lead of the night with a two-RBI double. George Springer would extend the lead with a one-out RBI-single, then Jose Altuve would score one more to make it 5-2 with a sacrifice fly. The Astros would send nine batters to the plate in the successful inning.

2) Verlander needed all he could get

It was a good thing for Justin Verlander that his offense backed him up with that five-run third inning because he would need all five of them. After the two-run home run he allowed in the second, he'd also let Seattle get runners on second and third with no outs in the third, but was able to limit them to just one run that inning.

With the lead still 5-3 in the fifth, he'd allow yet another home run, a solo shot to get the Mariners within one at 5-4. After the long and stressful innings that led to that point, A.J. Hinch would not try to extend him past his 100 pitch count, going to the bullpen in the sixth. Verlander's final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.

3) Bullpen tasked with another long outing

With Verlander's night over surprisingly short, it was up to Houston's relievers to preserve their one-run lead. Hector Rondon was first out of the bullpen but would only be able to record two outs while walking two batters before being lifted in favor of Will Harris who would finish off the inning.

Ryan Pressly would take over in the seventh, instead of his usual role as the eighth inning set up, and after two outs would see the game tied on a solo home run by Seattle. Collin McHugh was next to pitch the top of the eighth, and he looked great yet again out of the bullpen since his return from injury, striking out all three batters he faced.

Roberto Osuna was brought in for the ninth to try and keep the game tied and set up back-to-back walk-off wins for Houston. He was able to get through the inning by retiring the Mariners in order.

4) Gurriel does it in extras again

With the game still tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Astros had the top of their order up to try and win the game. George Springer nearly hit the winning home run on to straightaway center to lead off the inning but came up just a few feet short. They'd come up empty in the inning, resulting in back-to-back nights with extra innings.

Chris Devenski was the next reliever out for Houston, and he was able to work around a two-out single to give his team another chance at the walk-off. Michael Brantley, on his jersey giveaway night, started the bottom of the tenth off with a single. He moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI-double from Yuli Gurriel, making it back-to-back nights with game-winning hits.

Up Next: The series finale between these two teams will take place tomorrow at 1:10 PM. Seattle will send Marco Gonzalez (9-6, 4.34 ERA) to the mound while Houston will start Gerrit Cole (7-5, 3.42 ERA). Cole (151 strikeouts) will have a chance to regain the top spot in the league in strikeouts if he can catch and pass Max Scherzer (156) who also pitches on Sunday.

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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