Astros are AL West division champs for third straight season

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 13-5 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are the 2019 winners of the American League West. Here is a quick recap of Sunday's game that clinched it:

With their magic number staying put at 1 after a loss on Saturday, Houston tried once again to lock up the division with a win on Sunday with Justin Verlander on the mound in the series finale against the Angels.

Final Score: Astros 13, Angels 5.

Record: 102-54, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (20-6, 2.53 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jose Rodriguez (0-1, 3.24 ERA).

1) George "triple-dinger" Springer

Houston's offense did their part early in Sunday's game to make sure they would be able to wrap up the AL West on the field. George Springer set the tone in the bottom of the first, getting a leadoff home run to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

After the Angels got the run back to tie the game in the top of the second, Springer returned to the plate for his second at-bat and hit another home run, this time a two-run shot to put the Astros back in front 3-1. Los Angeles tried to shift the momentum by getting a run back in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to one, but Springer would make it three-for-three with another solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, making it 4-2.

The rest of the offense would get in on the scoring in the bottom of the fifth, putting together a six-run inning on a two-run homer by Alex Bregman, a two-RBI single by Robinson Chirinos, an RBI-single by Jose Altuve, and one more scoring on a passed ball.

2) Verlander gets win number 20

Justin Verlander dealt with some high-leverage situations early in this start before his offense gave him plenty of slack. After a scoreless first, he would allow back-to-back two-out triples in the top of the second which tied the game 1-1. He worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless third but would allow the Angels to pull within one after putting runners on the corners with no out to set up an RBI-groundout in the top of the fourth.

He rebounded from that by erasing a single and walk in the fifth inning to keep the game at 4-2 before his offense put up the big inning of offense to put the game out of reach and allow him to enjoy the rest of the game from the dugout. The five-inning, two-run start was good enough to earn him his 20th win of the 2019 season. His final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.

3) Division champs again

With Verlander given the rest of the game off with the big lead putting him in line for the win, the Astros turned the ball to Brad Peacock who made his first appearance since the end of August. He worked around a one-out walk in the top of the sixth to throw a scoreless inning. In the bottom half, Aledmys Diaz tacked on three more runs with a three-run homer to make it 13-2.

Framber Valdez was next out of Houston's bullpen but would not record an out in the seventh after loading the bases, prompting the move to bring in Josh James. James would watch a few runs come across on an error, a single, and a bases-loaded walk, but would get through the inning. Chris Devenski turned things around with a 1-2-3 eighth.

Roberto Osuna came in to record the final three outs, wrapping up the win to not only secure the series victory but clinched the American League West for the third straight season.

Up Next: With the division won, the Astros will need a successful final week of regular-season play to maintain their grasp of the best record in baseball. They will have a day off on Monday before picking up a series in Seattle on Tuesday at 9:10 PM. In the opener of the two-game set, the expected pitchers are Gerrit Cole (18-5, 2.61 ERA) for Houston and Justin Dunn (0-0, 6.75 ERA) for Seattle as an opener.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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