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.

Alvarez is the third in franchise history to get the award

Astros' Yordan Alvarez wins AL Rookie of the Year

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

As expected, the MLB announced on Monday that the winner of the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Award is Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros. It comes as no surprise, considering Alvarez's performance since being called up on June 9th of this season was powerful, to say the least. He beats out the two other finalists: John Means of the Baltimore Orioles and Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays.

After dominating at the AAA level for the Round Rock Express where he led the minors in home runs (23) and RBIs (71) while hitting for a .343 average and 1.184 OPS over his 56 games before being promoted to the major leagues, he brought the same power to Houston's lineup. He wasted no time showing what he was capable of, notching his first career home run in his second at-bat at Minute Maid Park in his debut game.

He followed that by hitting home runs in four of his first five games and going on to slash .317 / .406 / .733 for a 1.139 OPS from his debut through the end of June, tenth best in all of the majors over that span. Though he finished the month with seven homers in just 60 at-bats, he also maintained his ability to drive in runs, notching 21 RBIs in his first sixteen games. He slowed down slightly in July, banging just five homers in 75 ABs to go along with 15 RBIs, though increasing his average to .333.

He picked the power back up in August and September, though, finishing the final two months of the regular season with a combined 15 home runs and 42 RBIs over 178 at-bats. That ended his regular season with 27 homers, 78 RBIs, a 1.067 OPS, and .313 average, a line that would have been decent for a full season, much less one that started in early June. One of the shining moments of his debut year came in the matchup with the Orioles on August 10th, a night when the Astros put up a franchise-record 23 runs, seven of which came off the bat of Alvarez on a three-homer night including a grand slam.

Although not factored into the voting, Alvarez did contribute in the postseason for Houston, though not at the same level as his regular-season numbers. He had just one home run in the playoffs, a two-run blast in World Series Game 5 against the Nationals in D.C. to help Houston take that game 7-1. He had just one other RBI in October, in ALDS Game 1 against the Rays, giving him just three total along with the one homer to leave his postseason stat line as something to improve on.

Nonetheless, Alvarez's power is something that Houston will gladly put in their DH spot as long as he can continue to drive in runs and be a difference-maker in a game with one swing of his hefty bat. Yordan is the third player in franchise history to win the Rookie of the Year award, joining Jeff Bagwell, who took home the honor for the National League in 1991 and Carlos Correa, who also won in the American League in 2015. The future is bright for this left-handed slugger and the Houston Astros as a result.

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