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.

Houston accused of more wrongdoing

New report of illegal sign-stealing puts Astros back under scrutiny

Jason Behnken / Getty Images

Back in 2017, the Houston Astros could be considered the darlings of the MLB. They helped pull a Harvey-ravaged city out of despair and into a celebration in a matter of months with the acquisition of Justin Verlander and subsequent World Series victory. The young team full of potential suddenly had the attention of not only fans but other MLB clubs and the league's front office.

On Tuesday, that attention reared itself yet again in a severely negative way, with the Athletic reporting (subscription required) that former-Astro Mike Fiers was alleging and confirming that his former team used illegal means to steal signs in their 2017 championship season. Fiers, along with three other anonymous sources with the team in 2017, claims that the team used cameras and other technology to monitor opposing catchers to relay signs to batters in real-time. The Astros have released the following statement:

"Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."

While GM Jeff Luhnow had this to say:

Another negative blow to the team's reputation

This is not the first time the Astros have been under a microscope in recent years, the most recent being less than a month ago when assistant general manager Brandon Taubman taunted reporters in the Astros clubhouse following their ALCS series-clinching win. The Astros fumbled that event, coming out with a rebuttal against the reporter, which would eventually be retracted, and Taubman terminated from his employment.

Neither is this the first time the Astros have dealt with accusations of sign-stealing and other forms of cheating. In this year's ALCS, the Yankees complained about a "whistling" noise from Houston's dugout they believed to be a method of relaying pitches to batters at the plate. Also, in the 2018 postseason, the Astros found themselves under fire for having an employee taking photos of the opposing team's dugout.

It's just part of the game until it's not

Both pitch tipping and stealing signs are things that are nearly unavoidable in baseball. With the catcher having to relay a sign to the pitcher 60.5 feet away using his hands, the opposing team will inevitably try to decipher what's coming. The same is true of tipping, where if a pitcher has a tell before a specific pitch, that information will quickly spread through the dugout.

However, there is a line teams should not cross, and that comes by way of utilizing technology to aid further the ability to steal signs, and using that to give an immediate advantage to a batter amid an at-bat. The Astros are not the first team to be alleged of this type of grievance, as the Red Sox received a fine after utilizing a smartwatch to try and steal signs.

It's a widely known and accepted fact that teams will try anything within reason to get a leg up on their opponent. However, with technology ever improving both for organizations to use and be caught by, it's no surprise that this is becoming an issue that the MLB will have to deal with, and soon.

Ramifications could loom large

Will the Astros be found guilty and made an example of to deter other teams for trying similar tactics? It appears we will have to wait for the conclusion of this investigation to find out. While it may not be an indictment of the entire team, it will bring into question the integrity and character of many of the team.

Still, no matter the outcome, the report alone and continued negativity surrounding the Astros organization has made them villains of many, a role that many would not have expected this team to play if asked just two years ago.

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