Astros lose in extras to the Angels

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

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After finishing the season series with the Mariners with a two-game mini sweep to finish 18-1 against Seattle and get a franchise-best 104th win, the Astros traveled to Anaheim for the final series of the regular season. Here is a quick look at the first of four games this weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Angels 4, Astros 3.

Record: 104-55, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Trevor Cahill (4-9, 6.04 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Joe Biagini (3-2, 4.59 ERA)

1) Less than impressive start for Miley

Wade Miley's security in the playoff rotation was certainly in question going into Thursday night. He did not help his case in the first inning, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk to give the Angels an early 2-0 lead. He followed that up with a one-run second after giving up a leadoff double that would later score on a sacrifice fly to extend Houston's deficit to 3-0.

To his credit, he would settle in and throw two scoreless innings after that, but four innings while allowing three runs did not instill the kind of confidence needed to secure his place alongside Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Grienke in Houston's rotation for the 2019 postseason. His final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.

2) Houston ties it up

The three runs allowed by Miley would luckily not net him a loss; thanks to some big hits from his young teammates. First, Kyle Tucker hit a one-out solo home run in the top of the fourth, his second in as many nights, to cut the lead to two at 3-1. In the next inning, a leadoff walk set up Jack Mayfield for a game-tying two-run home run to put the teams at three apiece.

The game remained knotted up at 3-3 for a while, with Brad Peacock taking over for Miley in the fifth inning and starting the sixth before being lifted for Bryan Abreu who finished that inning. Joe Smith was next out of Houston's bullpen and threw a 1-2-3 scoreless bottom of the seventh.

3) Angels win in extras

Houston had a chance in the top of the eighth, getting runners on first and third with one out. They brought in Yordan Alvarez as a pinch-hitter who took a four-pitch walk to load the bases. George Springer pinch-hit next but would ground into an inning-ending double play to keep the game tied. Josh James was on the mound in the bottom of the eighth and worked around a two-out single for a scoreless inning. With the Astros coming up empty in the top of the ninth, Hector Rondon tried to send the game to extra innings with a scoreless bottom of the inning and did so.

In extras, Houston had chances in the first two innings, including loading the bases with one out in the eleventh but coming up empty. Chris Devenski, meanwhile, was able to provide two scoreless innings on the mound to keep the game locked at 3-3. Josh Reddick led off the top of the twelfth with his fifth hit of the game, a double to get a runner in scoring position at a pivotal part of the game. The Astros would go on to load the bases with two outs, but once again strand all three runners. Joe Biagini pitched the bottom of the inning, allowing a leadoff walk that would ultimately come around to score in a walk-off win for the Angels.

Up Next: Game two of this series will be Friday at 9:07 PM. Jose Urquidy (1-1, 4.63 ERA) will get another chance to try and impress as he is given a start on the mound for the Astros going opposite of Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 5.25 ERA) for the Angels.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

What a week.The Rockets look terrible in losing consecutive games to losing teams, and that doesn't register as the tiniest ripple in the week's pond of Houston sports woe. Pond? More like ocean.

The Astros are irrefutably confirmed for all-time as cheaters and liars over a multi-season period. Jim Crane is no idiot, but specifically on the issue of whether the Astros' 2017 World Series championship is tainted, Jim Crane is an idiot if he really thinks it is not. Astro lackeys, toadies, and homers should stop the "a bunch of other teams did it too!" and "Mike Fiers is an a-hole" lameness. The Astros were guilty, caught, and deserved to get hammered. If/when others are proven as guilty as the Astros, so should they be hammered.

So after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's lowering of a rightful boom, and then Jim Crane firing Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, what does it all mean for the 2020 Astros? It's a wow of a story, but really not a crisis. The loss of Gerrit Cole is much more meaningful. Luhnow's shoes are fairly easily filled for this season. Hence for now, Crane himself will head up baseball operations. The Astros weren't and aren't pursuing any meaningful free agents or major trades. Before his demise Luhnow finished the financial corner cutting moves that filled out the roster.

It's not as if Luhnow's personal expertise made all scouting, drafting, and signing decisions. And now the Astros have no first or second round pick to make this June anyway. 30 year old Pete Putila is the ranking baseball guy still employed by the club, but he is a branch of the Luhnow tree. If Crane's goal is the "housecleaning" he termed the Luhnow and Hinch firings as being, how can he promote a Luhnow lieutenant? Every front office in baseball has shrewd analytic minds, looking to move up. Crane can easily hire one of them.

As for field manager, Hinch was a great handler of people (well….with one kind of important exception) but this roster is strong enough to operate on autopilot to a good extent. Bench coach Joe Espada is highly regarded and been a finalist for other managerial gigs. But he was on Hinch's staff when cheating was ongoing in 2018. That seems pretty much disqualifying. Two known interviewees are quality options, though neither has skippered a team to the World Series. Buck Showalter was always extremely highly regarded, John Gibbons steered the Blue Jays to back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. Between those two I'd lean Showalter but either would be fine.

Remember The Texans

How thankful are Bill O'Brien and the Texans for the Astros' mess grabbing all the headlines not even 24 hours after the Texans' collapse in Kansas City? It's almost impossible to get blown out of an NFL game in which you lead 24-nothing. Almost. The Texans pulled it off! Won't that cute little AFC South Champion banner be extra cute when it hangs next season? Hangs like a dead man from a noose.

As I put it last week, the Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense, the Chiefs' defense better than the Texans' defense, and the Chiefs' coaching better than the Texans' coaching. But the way the game played out was still preposterous.

If Travis Kelce had beaten Lonnie Johnson any worse than he did Johnson's name should have been legally changed to Rented Mule. J.J. Watt was essentially a zero. No tackles, no assists on tackles, no sacks, no quarterback hits. Are you going to pay 15 and a half million dollars to a 31 year old Watt after his three major injuries in the last four seasons. That's a yes.

At least we have clarity that the Texans must dedicate their first round pick to a pass rusher or a defensive back. Wait, they don't have a first round pick. Well, in 2021 then. Wait. Bill O'Brien traded that away too. Speaking of O'Brien…

Opting for the field goal on fourth and one up 21-0 early second quarter was not indefensible. However, O'Brien's explanation for doing so was pitiful. The fake punt? Most agree, dumb.But not absolutely indefensible. This was the O'Brien Is Not Fit For Command moment of the game: He needed to use a timeout, with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Texans down 17, facing fourth and fourth and four, in Chiefs' territory, to decide to go for the first down rather than punt. A cinder block could have displayed the same game management IQ. O'Brien has three seasons left on his contract. Unless Cal McNair takes a decidedly different tack than his father did, O'Brien's job is as safe as any Supreme Court Justice's.

Speaking of Cal, since the loss he's been spotted as often and been as vocal this week as Alex Bregman.

Buzzer Beaters

1. So, if guaranteed the truth: For a million dollars is your bet Altuve was wearing something or not? 2. Alex Cora should be banned from ever again managing a Major League team. 3. Famous "scandals": Bronze-Teapot Dome Silver-Patty Smyth fronted band, had big hit with Goodbye to You Gold-Kerry Washington and the TV show.

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