Houston clinches a playoff berth with win number 100

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a win on Tuesday night against Texas, Houston looked to wrap up the season series with the Rangers with a win on Wednesday night to get victory number 100 on the year and also secure a playoff berth. Here are some quick hits about the game:

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 2.

Record: 100-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (18-5, 2.61 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Kolby Allard (4-1, 4.25 ERA).

1) After stranding runners early, Gurriel starts the scoring

Houston had several chances to jump in front of Texas early and build up a substantial lead. They loaded the bases with two outs in both the second and third innings, but both times would strand all three runners, finishing the first three innings with a total of seven left on base.

Yordan Alvarez became another two-out baserunner in the bottom of the fifth after a single, bringing up Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel continued his hot streak this summer, finally giving the Astros runs on the board with a two-run home run to go up 2-0.

2) Cole reaches strikeout 300 in his 19th start of 2019 with ten or more Ks

Gerrit Cole benefited from those two runs, as he was working on the mound in the top half of each inning to hold the Rangers down. He allowed just two hits through the first six innings, putting an exclamation point to that part of the game by finishing the sixth inning with his 300th strikeout of the season, becoming just the third in franchise history to do so.

With a low pitch count, he was able to return for the seventh inning but would allow his first run of the night after back-to-back one-out singles put a runner on third who scored on a bad throw by Martin Maldonado trying to catch a runner stealing second. Not only did Cole finish that inning with a one-run lead still intact, but he would also go back to the mound in the eighth to extend his streak of double-digit strikeouts.

After Jose Altuve added a run with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, Cole, despite allowing a solo home run himself, would get his tenth strikeout of the night. That made it 19 of his 31 starts this season to record at least ten strikeouts as he would go on to finish the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead. His final line in a night full of records and milestones: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR.

3) Osuna gets the save as Houston is first to 100 wins and clinches a playoff spot

Roberto Osuna took over for Gerrit Cole in the top of the ninth with the one-run lead. He was able to get another save with a scoreless inning, wrapping up the 3-2 win. The win was number 100 on the season, the first team in the MLB to do so this year, and it also clinched the Astros a spot in the postseason.

Up Next: The Astros will get another welcome day off at home tomorrow before hosting their final regular-season series at home this weekend against the Angels. The opener of the three-game set will be Friday at 7:10 PM and the expected pitching matchup is Jaime Barria (4-9, 5.95 ERA) for Los Angeles and Zack Greinke (16-5, 2.95 ERA) for Houston.

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.

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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