Oakland takes the series against Houston

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 3-2 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Down 2-1 in this four-game series to the A's, and with the Yankees sweeping their doubleheader to move back ahead in the overall AL standings, Houston needed a win to get back on track on Thursday night. Here is a recap of the series finale with Oakland:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 2.

Record: 95-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Homer Bailey (13-8, 4.76 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Justin Verlander (18-6, 2.58 ERA).

1) Oakland puts up three runs on Verlander

Many would have thought that having Justin Verlander on the mound Thursday night would mean a return to the norm in terms of holding opponents to few, if any, runs. Instead, it turns out that even Verlander isn't immune to the surging A's, as he would give up a run in the top of the first to put Oakland ahead 1-0.

In the third, a one-out single turned into a one-out two-run home run to put Oakland up 3-0 and put Verlander in a tough position. However, he turned things around to hold the A's scoreless through the rest of his six innings while having another double-digit strikeout start. His final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 HR.

2) Houston gets a couple back, but not enough

Houston threatened in the third, getting runners on second and third with no outs after a leadoff single and double. George Springer scored a run on an RBI-groundout to make it a 3-1 game, but Houston would not be able to trim the lead any further.

That would be their only run scored with Verlander on the mound, with Joe Smith taking over the 3-1 game in the top of the seventh and throwing a 1-2-3 scoreless inning. Josh James was next out of Houston's bullpen for the top of the eighth and worked around a two-out single to post a scoreless inning, striking out three to rebound from his recent terrible outing.

In the bottom of the inning, Jose Altuve pulled Houston within one run after a one-out solo home run to the train tracks to make it a 3-2 game. Houston would go on to load the bases with two outs, but Kyle Tucker would strike out to keep the A's in front.

Roberto Osuna would be tasked with the top of the ninth to get some work after several days off and put Oakland down in order, giving Houston one last chance to win the game. Robinson Chirinos worked a walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth before being pinch-run for by Myles Straw, who moved to second on a single by Yuli Gurriel. Unfortunately, though the Astros would get the tying run to third, they would be unable to beat Oakland, giving the A's the series win.

Up Next: Houston's remaining schedule lightens up after this series with Oakland. They'll start a three-game series with the Royals in Kansas City on Friday at 7:15 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Gerrit Cole (16-5, 2.73 ERA) on the mound for Houston going up against Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.71 ERA) for the Royals.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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