Verlander has historic night as Astros lock up best overall record

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-3 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After securing the best American League regular-season record with the victory on Friday night to guarantee home-field advantage through the ALCS, the Astros had the chance to lock in the best record of the entire league with another win over the Angles in Los Angeles on Saturday.

It was also Justin Verlander's last start in the regular season, his final chance to add to his potential Cy Young Numbers. Here is a quick recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 3.

Record: 106-55, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Bard (3-3, 4.78 ERA).

1) Verlander reaches 3,000 strikeouts on his career and 300 in 2019

Justin Verlander went into Saturday's game closing in on two milestones, one a career-long and the other for the 2019 season. The former he reached in the bottom of the fourth, getting his sixth strikeout of the night which brought him to the elusive mark of 3,000 in his career.

With the strikeouts then coming in bunches, Verlander had a chance at the twelve K's needed to join teammate Gerrit Cole with 300 on the year. In the bottom of the sixth, he would get that strikeout, finishing his regular-season performance by reaching that achievement.

Along the way in the start, he did allow three runs on a solo home run in the first and two-run homer in the fourth, ultimately increasing his ERA to 2.58, but that would be a small blemish on an otherwise historic night. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K, 2 HR.

2) Altuve and Reddick lift the offense ahead

Early in the game, it did not look like Houston's bats were going to be able to figure out Jose Suarez and be able to bail out Justin Verlander who had allowed the early runs. That changed in the top of the sixth when a leadoff walk set up Jose Altuve for a two-run home run to trim the Angels' lead to 3-2.

Later in that inning, Houston had two more runners on base after a walk and hit-by-pitch, and Josh Reddick took advantage with the second homer of the inning, this one a go-ahead blast to make it a 5-3 Houston lead. Jose Altuve knocked in another run in the top of the seventh, getting an RBI-single to extend the lead to 6-3.

3) Houston's relievers throw three scoreless innings

With Verlander's night done after six innings, Hector Rondon took over on the mound for the bottom of the seventh and worked around a one-out hit batter and walk to keep the Angels scoreless in the inning. Ryan Pressly continued to look sharp, throwing a nine-pitch bottom of the eighth.

Jake Marisnick led off the top of the ninth with a triple, but three straight outs would leave him stranded and Houston's lead still three runs. That gave Roberto Osuna another save opportunity for the year, and he would keep Los Angeles scoreless in the bottom of the ninth. The win locked up the best overall record in the MLB for the Astros, giving them home-field advantage should they reach the World Series.

Up Next: The 162nd and final game of the 2019 regular season for the Astros will be Sunday in Los Angeles against the Angles at 2:07 PM. Gerrit Cole (19-5, 2.52 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston to make his final bid to pass up Justin Verlander for the Cy Young as well as try to get to win number 20, while Dillon Peters (4-3, 4.72 ERA) will oppose him for the Angels.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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