George Springer backs up Gerrit Cole to get the win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 4-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a disappointing three-game skid to end the four-game series with Oakland at home, the Astros went on the road to try and get things back on track. Here is a recap of the first of three games against the Royals in Kansas City:

Final Score: Astros 4, Royals 1.

Record: 96-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (17-5, 2.62 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Heath Fillmyer (0-2, 8.68 ERA).

1) Cole wins the pitcher's duel through the first eight innings

The Astros had one run in the early goings of the game, and it came off the bat of Jose Altuve. He launched a one-out solo home run in the top of the first, giving Houston a quick 1-0 lead in the game in Kansas City.
That proved to be a pivotal run, with both Danny Duffy and Gerrit Cole battling each other in a pitcher's duel in the game. Cole would do better, outlasting Duffy to complete seven scoreless innings. However, a broken-bat leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth would be costly for Cole and the Astros.

Bubba Starling reached on the single to start the inning, then would steal second and induce an errant throw to advance to third, setting up a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1 and end Cole's shutout bid. Cole's final line: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 0 HR.

2) Springer's Dinger makes the difference

In the top of the ninth, Kyle Tucker hit a one-out single to put the go-ahead run on base, then Michael Brantley followed with a pinch-hit walk. They would both come around to score on a two-out go-ahead three-run homer by George Springer, catapulting the Astros ahead 4-1.

Roberto Osuna took over for Cole to finish things off in the ninth, and did so to get the Astros back in the win column and improve their record to 96-53 on the sesaon.

Up Next: This series between Houston and Kansas City will continue with game two of three on Saturday at 6:15 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Mike Montgomery (2-6, 4.29 ERA) on the mound for the Royals and Zack Greinke (15-5, 2.99 ERA) on the bump for the Astros.

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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