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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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