Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Bregman's great year not enough to overtake the best in the sport

Mike Trout wins 2019 AL MVP over Alex Bregman

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a close race, the MLB announced on Thursday that the winner of the American League Most Valuable Player Award is Los Angeles' Mike Trout. He edges out Alex Bregman, who many thought might be able to capitalize on missed time by Trout in 2019 to steal the award. Trout takes the award for the third time in his career, joining a list of only ten other players in history to win it three or more times.

Missed time not enough for Bregman to steal it

What some may have thought would put Bregman over Trout in the mind of voters is the sustained success he had in a complete season. Trout missed 28 games this season mostly due to injury, while Bregman played in 156 of the teams 162 games, sitting out just a handful of games with minor injuries or scheduled rest.

Still, Trout managed to put up incredible numbers that Bregman couldn't quite match. Trout led the entire league in WAR at 8.6 with Bregman right behind in 8.5. He also led the MLB in walk percentage (18.3%), on-base percentage (.438), and was second in OPS (1.083), which was best in the AL. Trout was second in the AL in home runs (45), sixth in runs (110), and ninth in RBIs (104) despite his missed time.

Still a terrific season for Bregman

Bregman finished with 41 home runs (3rd in the AL), 122 runs (4th), 112 RBIs (5th) while leading the entire league in walks (119) to put him third in walk percentage (17.2%). The walks helped boost his on-base percentage and OPS, finishing second to Trout in both categories in the AL at .423 and 1.015, respectively. Bregman did finish with a better batting average, posting a .296 to Trout's .291.

One of his most impressive stretches, though, came in his hot August, which earned him a player of the month honor. That month, he drove in 31 runs while hitting six home runs and fourteen doubles, working his way up to a 1.235 OPS over the 26 games he played.

2019 was by far Bregman's best performance in his early career and shows that the future is bright for the young third baseman who the Astros currently have tied up for the next five seasons. Though Mike Trout will likely still be the favorite for MVP for many years to come, Bregman showed this year that he could give him an honest fight for the award.

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