Astros get a shutout win against the Angels

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 4-0 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a tough loss on Thursday to start this final four-game series of the season, Houston looked to extend their franchise-record winning season and stay on top of the race for home-field advantage through the World Series. Here is a quick look at Friday's game in Los Angeles against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 4, Angels 0.

Record: 105-55, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jose Urquidy (2-1, 3.95 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Patrick Sandoval (0-4, 5.03 ERA).

1) Urquidy builds trust with six shutout innings

While Wade Miley was unable to put together an impressive enough start the night before to fully secure trust in him as the fourth starter in Houston's rotation, Jose Urquidy took advantage of an opportunity on Friday night. He gave his team six shutout innings, showcasing his upside as a possible starter.

While it may not have won him the fourth spot in the playoff rotation since Wade Miley may still receive the benefit of the doubt, it was nonetheless a welcome sight to see him perform well. Urquidy's final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.

2) Bregman and Brantley provide the offense

On the other side, the Astros were not able to put up much offense either in the early goings of the game, save a solo home run by Alex Bregman to lead off the top of the second which gave Houston the 1-0 lead they held through Urquidy's six innings and beyond.

Ryan Pressly took to the mound in the bottom of the seventh and had a quick 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. In the top of the eighth, the Astros were able to tack on to their lead after putting two runners on to set up a three-run homer for Michael Brantley to make it 4-0 Houston.

In the bottom of that inning, Will Harris tossed three strikeouts on nine pitches, all pitches resulting in strikes swinging or looking, an immaculate inning. Josh James closed things out in the ninth, securing home-field advantage for the Astros through at least the American League playoffs.

Up Next: Justin Verlander (20-6, 2.53 ERA) will make his final, likely abbreviated, start on Saturday as the Astros play the Angels again at 8:07 PM. Jose Suarez (2-4, 7.34 ERA) is the expected starter for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

- William Shakespeare

You might wonder why there is a puppy picture on a story about the Astros scandal. This little beauty is my Dalmatian, Dynamo. Why is she here? To distract you. To dazzle you. Who doesn't love a puppy picture? Who cares if it has anything to do with the story? She made you look.

And the point is...

Sadly, that is the role of the media these days. Please listen to my rant. Please click on my story. Who cares if the headline isn't accurate? None of that matters. Look at me! I need likes and retweets!

The Astros cheating scandal is the latest story to be overblown, overanalyzed and overexposed. Why? Page views. Ratings. A failing media.

Exploring every angle

None of that is meant to excuse the team. Let's be honest; the Astros cheated. They will be punished, and they should. Draft picks, fines, suspensions. All are possible, and whatever they get is probably warranted.

And that is where the story should end. But that is not what the world is about anymore. It has to be endlessly debated. Pictures of a laptop on a table become the Zapruder film. There HAS to be a conspiracy. Every detail has to be debated. Which side you come down on depends on your biases.

Stupid takes

Some have even said the Astros should be stripped of their World Series title. This isn't college. It's a dumb, look at me take. It will never happen. This is not Avengers: Endgame where you can enter the quantum realm and change the past. It is real life, where events can't be changed. Did the cheating help them win? Who knows? You still have to hit the ball, even if you know what is coming. And it did not make a difference for the Astros pitchers. And harkening back to the steroid era, how do you know the other teams did not do it too and just did not get caught?

The big argument about PEDs was "oh, look at the big numbers the hitters put up." But how do you know the pitchers weren't doing it, too? The same goes here.

Truth is, you don't know. Which is why results can't and shouldn't be changed. Period. To suggest it is just dumb.

More stupid takes

On the Astros fan side, the defenses are just as silly. "They did nothing wrong. Where is your proof? Why aren't there other players coming forward?"

As an aside, let's not leave out the great misleading phrases. "Due diligence." (In other words, we know this is a bad idea, but we want to sound like we know what we are doing). "Witch hunt." (Yes, I am guilty, but this is how I deflect it).

As another aside, if you find an actual witch on your hunt, let me know. I always wanted to meet one.

They cheated. Period. And they will be punished. But the point is not that at all. It's to find every possible angle to get people to read and react. To care more about something than we should, when there are far more important things we should be riled up about. But you are being told to care, so you will keep clicking. It's the new normal, where reporters make themselves the stories and insert themselves into it. And that's why they turn stories like this into major issues. For their own benefit.

Nothing new

This is just the latest media distraction. The Patriots deflated balls saga was the most overplayed, overanalyzed scandal in sports history. Why was it so important? Because hot takes, web sites and analysts told us so. Many hinted at even bigger conspiracies. Why? Because we are a society dazzled by puppies.

Just this past weekend, the entire Colin Kaepernick story was over reported from all sides. The NFL was just doing a PR move. He just wants to be a martyr.

The NFL's waiver was broken down word by word.

Over a guy who hasn't played in three years.

The reason? He gets page views and clicks. And ratings. We keep getting told how important every aspect of the story is to our lives. In truth, it's just another distraction, a false narrative created to keep us dazzled and up in arms. Do we really care about these things? And if we do, what the hell is wrong with us?

Just like the Astros scandal. Is it a bad look? Of course. Are they guilty? Sure looks like it. But punish them and let's move on. We get it. They banged trashed cans. But punishment is never enough. People have to post pictures that might be something. Videos that might be something. Emails that might be something. Add it all up and it doesn't make things any worse. It just creates talking points. And people wonder why so many people consider the media - and social media, as the lines are completely blurred - "fake news."

In the end...

It's not fake news. It's misguided attempts to to keep us coming back for more. And too many of us fall into the trap. We are too distracted by everyone telling us these things are so important that we keep clicking. It takes on a life of its own, and then any theory is possible. Any conspiracy is possible. So we keep reading and digging and we are immersed in it. Look at this! Click on me! In a few weeks the Astros will be the most evil organization that ever lived and should be disbanded. And some of you will believe it and buy in, because that's how distractions work. And once we are distracted? We can believe anything.

Hence the picture of Dynamo. To distract you. By the way, did you notice one of her spots looks like Mickey Mouse? Let the Disney conspiracy begin. We shall start our own tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

And we all know what that signifies.

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