Houston's bullpen struggles again

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 5-3 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a humiliating loss on Tuesday to even the series with Oakland and leave their magic number stagnant, Houston was back in action Wednesday night trying to get back in the win column. Here is a recap of the third of four games in this series with the A's:

Final Score: A's 5, Astros 3.

Record: 95-52, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Josh James (5-1, 5.20 ERA).

1) Urquidy fills in with a great start


With Miley lasting just one out the night before with the bullpen filling the other 26, and Wednesday already slated to be a bullpen day, Houston looked to Jose Urquidy to cover as many innings as possible. He met the call in a significant way, tossing a great game to keep his team in position to win.

Urquidy was sharp and efficient, only allowing one hit and one walk over his five innings of work while recording double-digit strikeouts. Although the one hit was a game-tying solo home run in the fourth inning, it was still a terrific start. His final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR.

2) Oakland pulls ahead in the sixth


Urquidy would leave in line for the win after his offense gave him a 2-1 lead. The first run came by way of a dinger by George Springer, a solo shot in the bottom of the third to put Houston ahead 1-0 at the time. After Oakland tied the game 1-1 in the top half of the fourth, Houston regained the lead in the bottom half with Yordan Alvarez reaching on an infield single then scoring on an RBI-double by Aledmys Diaz, making it a 2-1 Astros advantage.

Josh James took over for Urquidy to start the sixth inning, but like many of Houston's pitchers the day before would struggle with Oakland's batters. He allowed three runs without recording an out before Houston would move on to another pitcher. Joe Smith would get out of the inning, but not without allowing a fourth run to extend Oakland's lead to 5-2.

3) Houston gets one run back, but come up short

Houston got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out solo home run by Martin Maldonado, trimming the lead to two runs at 5-3. Hector Rondon was the next reliever out for Houston and was able to work around a one-out walk to toss a scoreless frame.

Will Harris pitched the top of the eighth and although he battled against a double and a walk, was able to keep Oakland from extending their lead. With the Astros unable to score in the seventh or eighth, the sent Bryan Abreu to the mount in the ninth to try and keep it a two-run game and give them a chance to walk it off in the bottom half.

Abreu looked great, getting a couple of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning. Houston would come up empty in the bottom half, dropping the game and giving Oakland a 2-1 advantage in the four-game series.

Up Next: The final game in this series will be Thursday night with another 7:10 PM start. The Astros will look to Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52 ERA) for another gem to split the series with a win, while Oakland will send Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) to the mound.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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There's nothing left to do, but wait. Composite image by Jack Brame.

For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, Major League Baseball has entered into a lockout in which team officials and players cannot communicate with each other until both sides are “satisfied” and have come to an agreement on labor negotiations.

Before December 1st, MLB free agents were being signed left and right with teams like the Rangers spending over half a billion dollars on players that include Kole Calhoun, Jon Grey, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager.

Other teams that opened their wallets this offseason were the Mariners, Mets and Tigers.

Baseball free agency came to a screeching halt once the December 1st MLB CBA ended. As of right now, players can't sign with any team until the lockout has concluded.

Now that Major League Baseball has entered this work stoppage, the question on everyone’s mind is what does this mean for the sport going forward?

The short answer is no one knows. This process will take some time and most owners have a wait and see approach in regard to this stoppage. Labor negations can be a long, meticulous process that could drag out for weeks, if not months.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred seemed optimistic that a deal should get done between both the owners and the MLB Player’s Association sometime before the 2022 regular season starts.

"We believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season," Manfred wrote in a letter to fans. "We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the players' association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive."

That being said, it may be some time before any deal is made between either side, thus leaving certain free agents in a temporary limbo like Carlos Correa.

The 27-year-old shortstop looked to be the most coveted player available this offseason and would earn a major payday. Just like his fellow shortstops, Correa was looking to earn a deal similar to that of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Francisco Lindor. All of whom signed deals or extension’s of at least 10-year $300 million dollars or higher.

The aforementioned Seager signed a 10-year deal worth $325 million with the Texas Rangers two days before the current CBA ended. Correa was looking to earn a deal similar to this, and the Rangers were one of the team’s that looked to obtain the All-Star shortstop.

Another club that had been linked to Correa was the Tigers, but they just signed free agent short stop Javier Baez to a six-year $140 million contract.

With both Texas and Detroit out of the Correa sweepstakes presumably, where would the 27-year-old land?

We won’t know for some time due to the ongoing lockout negotiations, but as soon as there’s an agreement, Correa will sign somewhere and get his money.

According to Bleacher Report, the Gold Glove winning shortstop has drawn interest from the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.

All of these clubs are big market teams who are not afraid to spend large sums of money in free agency.

As much as Astros fans would hate to see their beloved shortstop don Yankee pinstripes or wear Dodgers Blue, it seems to be more of a reality Correa won’t be wearing an Astros uniform next season.

Is it possible for Houston to keep Carlos Correa?

Sure, if James Click and the Astros’ front office do something they have never done before and give him an extension of more than $300 million.

The largest contract Houston has ever given out was a 5-year $151 million extension to Jose Altuve.

If they wish to keep Correa, the Astros would have to give him at least a deal similar to what Seager just received in Texas, therefore doubling their largest contract ever given out.

It is not out of the realm of possibilities to believe Houston could accomplish this feat, but it seems unlikely.

A lockout might prolong Correa’s free agency, but once clubs are able to sign again, the All-Star shortstop could sign quicker than we think.

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