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.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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