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.

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So the Houston Astros, using cameras and video monitors and a labyrinthine baseball-bat-and-trash-can notification system, were stealing signs from opposing teams. From all indications, this is cheating and this is not kosher.

Let me just clarify that:

You are allowed to steal signs, you just can't do it electronically. In other words, it is really not wrong until you utilize the best means of technology.

Got it. I accept this, because, well, I don't feel like arguing this.

(I guess I'm glad the medical profession doesn't use this same standard. Uh, we could treat your headaches with Ibuprofen and heating pads, but let's stick with the ancient method of an elixir containing human blood and drilling a hole in the skull to relieve pressure.)

The Astros deserved MLB's punishment, but, as a student of history, Couch Slouch would like to point out that there have been multiple instances of similar swindling, defrauding, scamming, flimflamming, hoodwinking, fleecing, shafting, video-sign-stealing chicanery in modern and pre-modern times.

For your edification, here are some prominent examples:

Socrates and Plato: In an attempt to outsmart his perpetually smug teacher at the third annual Greek National Spelling Bee held at the Grand Hyatt Athens in 401 B.C., Plato sparked controversy by employing shadow puppets on the brightly lit north wall of the banquet hall to help him spell out different entries. The winning word: "aëricumbens."

Marie Antoinette: The somewhat unpopular queen of France hired a sketch artist to secretly document agitators cutting into bread lines. Once the drawings were discovered, along with a recording of her saying, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!" she was guillotined on Oct. 16, 1793 outside of a Le Pain Quotidien just before the lunch rush.

Burr-Hamilton duel: On the morning of July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton met at a dueling ground in Weehawken, N.J., near Bed Bath & Beyond. They agreed to stand back-to-back, then each would take 10 paces before firing. But Burr had one of his seconds hold a large vanity mirror in front of him, so he could see precisely where Hamilton was at the conclusion of the 10 steps. Burr then fired a fatal shot into Hamilton's lower abdomen.

Battle of the Little Bighorn: As George Armstrong Custer led U.S. troops toward Little Bighorn Valley on June 25, 1876, Lakota chief Crazy Horse utilized two sublime tactics to outmaneuver the lieutenant colonel: A primitive GPS device, tracking the government soldiers' movement via Pringles left on the incoming trail, combined with smoke signals sent back to the camp. This allowed Native American forces to ambush Custer and his infantry.

"Rear Window": In direct violation of HOA regulations, photographer J.J. "Jeff" Jefferies – confined to his condo because of a broken leg – routinely used binoculars to eavesdrop on his Greenwich Village neighbors in 1954. This led him to witnessing a marital spat, followed by his suspicions that the husband killed his wife and buried something incriminating in the garden. The neighbor was arrested but eventually acquitted of murder charges while Jefferies got convicted under the city's recently enacted peeping Tom laws.

Macy's vs. Gimbels: During the famed department-store rivalry in the 1960s and '70s, Gimbels – using a Polaroid camera with a telephoto lens – took snapshots of Macy's shoppers' credit cards as they paid at the register to steal customers. Did Gimbels tell Macy's? No. But Macy's found out through an anonymous whistleblower; Gimbels lost face and went out of business in 1986.

New York City garbage strike: Boy, the streets sure stank of garbage when the sanitation workers walked out in 1968. Teamsters leaders sped up talks the old-fashioned way – they woke up city negotiators each morning with one trash can thrown through a living room window, with two trash cans on off-days and three on weekends. When all else failed, they took a baseball bat to Mayor John Lindsay's office and asked him if he wanted to step outside.

New England Patriots: Uh, duh.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated his relationship with Antonio Brown until the free-agent wide receiver seeks help. Exactly what type of help? (Ron Kirkpatrick; Chicago)

A. Frankly, I thought Brown might end his relationship with Rosenhaus until ITAL he END ITAL got help.

Q. Are the regular LSU boosters annoyed they were not invited to personally hand out cash to the players in the Superdome after the championship win? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Nah, that was scheduled for the Red Lobster in Baton Rouge the following afternoon.

Q. Given their history, would it count toward diversity if the Cleveland Browns hired their first competent coach? (Rich Tucker; Falls Church, Va.)

A. We may never find out.

Q. Would MLB have considered managing the Mets punishment enough for Carlos Beltran's role in the Astros cheating scandal? (Stuart Gavurin; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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