Astros secure a series win against the Royals

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 6-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Houston was able to erase the sting of the three straight losses to Oakland earlier in the week by taking the first of three games against the Royals in Kansas City on Friday night to get back on track. They had Zack Greinke on the mound Saturday night to try and lock up the series. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Royals 1.

Record: 97-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (16-5, 2.95 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Mike Montgomery (3-9, 4.70 ERA).

1) Another tightly contested game early

There was just two runs scored in the first half of the game on Saturday, one for each team. The first was by the Royals off of Zack Greinke; they got a leadoff single in the bottom of the third followed by an RBI-double to take a 1-0 lead. Alex Bregman immediately tied things up in the top of the fourth for Houston, though, hammering a solo home run to make it 1-1.

The Astros took their first lead of the night in the top of the sixth, getting runners on first and third to set up an RBI-single for Kyle Tucker. Houston had a great chance to break the game open after that, loading the bases with no outs, but would leave all three runners stranded in a disappointing end to the inning.

The run that Kansas City scored against Greinke would be his only allowed in his night of work. He had another great start, finishing six innings and leaving in line for the win. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0 HR.

2) Astros extend their lead in the eighth to put things away

With Greinke's night over, Hector Rondon was first out of Houston's bullpen to pitch the bottom of the seventh. He recorded a scoreless inning, retiring Kansas City in order. In the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker got his fourth hit of the night with a leadoff single, then Robinson Chirinos worked a walk to put two on base for a pinch-hitting Yordan Alvarez. He took advantage of the opportunity, drilling a ball to straight center-field for a three-run homer to extend Houston's lead to 5-1.

Joe Smith took over for Rondon with the four-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, and he too was able to hold the Royals scoreless. In the top of the ninth, the Astros extended their lead after an intentional walk to Kyle Tucker loaded the bases for Robinson Chirinos, who delivered an RBi-single to make it 6-1.

With the lead now at five runs, Houston went to Bryan Abreu to try and finish things off in the bottom of the ninth. He would get two outs, but with a couple of runners on would pass the ball to Will Harris who recorded the final out. The win secured the series win and gave Houston a chance for a sweep on Sunday afternoon.

Up Next: Houston and Kansas City will wrap up this series with the finale on Sunday at 1:15 PM. Wade Miley (13-5, 3.74 ERA) will try to finally rebound from two horrible starts in his last two outings and get back on track to be the Astros' fourth starter in their playoff rotation. He'll go opposite of Jakob Junis (9-13, 5.06 ERA) for the Royals.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

What a week.The Rockets look terrible in losing consecutive games to losing teams, and that doesn't register as the tiniest ripple in the week's pond of Houston sports woe. Pond? More like ocean.

The Astros are irrefutably confirmed for all-time as cheaters and liars over a multi-season period. Jim Crane is no idiot, but specifically on the issue of whether the Astros' 2017 World Series championship is tainted, Jim Crane is an idiot if he really thinks it is not. Astro lackeys, toadies, and homers should stop the "a bunch of other teams did it too!" and "Mike Fiers is an a-hole" lameness. The Astros were guilty, caught, and deserved to get hammered. If/when others are proven as guilty as the Astros, so should they be hammered.

So after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's lowering of a rightful boom, and then Jim Crane firing Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, what does it all mean for the 2020 Astros? It's a wow of a story, but really not a crisis. The loss of Gerrit Cole is much more meaningful. Luhnow's shoes are fairly easily filled for this season. Hence for now, Crane himself will head up baseball operations. The Astros weren't and aren't pursuing any meaningful free agents or major trades. Before his demise Luhnow finished the financial corner cutting moves that filled out the roster.

It's not as if Luhnow's personal expertise made all scouting, drafting, and signing decisions. And now the Astros have no first or second round pick to make this June anyway. 30 year old Pete Putila is the ranking baseball guy still employed by the club, but he is a branch of the Luhnow tree. If Crane's goal is the "housecleaning" he termed the Luhnow and Hinch firings as being, how can he promote a Luhnow lieutenant? Every front office in baseball has shrewd analytic minds, looking to move up. Crane can easily hire one of them.

As for field manager, Hinch was a great handler of people (well….with one kind of important exception) but this roster is strong enough to operate on autopilot to a good extent. Bench coach Joe Espada is highly regarded and been a finalist for other managerial gigs. But he was on Hinch's staff when cheating was ongoing in 2018. That seems pretty much disqualifying. Two known interviewees are quality options, though neither has skippered a team to the World Series. Buck Showalter was always extremely highly regarded, John Gibbons steered the Blue Jays to back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. Between those two I'd lean Showalter but either would be fine.

Remember The Texans

How thankful are Bill O'Brien and the Texans for the Astros' mess grabbing all the headlines not even 24 hours after the Texans' collapse in Kansas City? It's almost impossible to get blown out of an NFL game in which you lead 24-nothing. Almost. The Texans pulled it off! Won't that cute little AFC South Champion banner be extra cute when it hangs next season? Hangs like a dead man from a noose.

As I put it last week, the Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense, the Chiefs' defense better than the Texans' defense, and the Chiefs' coaching better than the Texans' coaching. But the way the game played out was still preposterous.

If Travis Kelce had beaten Lonnie Johnson any worse than he did Johnson's name should have been legally changed to Rented Mule. J.J. Watt was essentially a zero. No tackles, no assists on tackles, no sacks, no quarterback hits. Are you going to pay 15 and a half million dollars to a 31 year old Watt after his three major injuries in the last four seasons. That's a yes.

At least we have clarity that the Texans must dedicate their first round pick to a pass rusher or a defensive back. Wait, they don't have a first round pick. Well, in 2021 then. Wait. Bill O'Brien traded that away too. Speaking of O'Brien…

Opting for the field goal on fourth and one up 21-0 early second quarter was not indefensible. However, O'Brien's explanation for doing so was pitiful. The fake punt? Most agree, dumb.But not absolutely indefensible. This was the O'Brien Is Not Fit For Command moment of the game: He needed to use a timeout, with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Texans down 17, facing fourth and fourth and four, in Chiefs' territory, to decide to go for the first down rather than punt. A cinder block could have displayed the same game management IQ. O'Brien has three seasons left on his contract. Unless Cal McNair takes a decidedly different tack than his father did, O'Brien's job is as safe as any Supreme Court Justice's.

Speaking of Cal, since the loss he's been spotted as often and been as vocal this week as Alex Bregman.

Buzzer Beaters

1. So, if guaranteed the truth: For a million dollars is your bet Altuve was wearing something or not? 2. Alex Cora should be banned from ever again managing a Major League team. 3. Famous "scandals": Bronze-Teapot Dome Silver-Patty Smyth fronted band, had big hit with Goodbye to You Gold-Kerry Washington and the TV show.

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