Astros beat up on Oakland for fifth straight win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 15-0 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After bludgeoning the Mariners to complete the four-game sweep on Sunday afternoon, the Astros turned their attention to another AL-West opponent, the A's, on Monday.

Not only would winning the series keep them atop the overall league standings, but each win would also reduce their "magic number" by two with Oakland sitting second in the AL West, the only team keeping them from already having the division locked up. Here is a quick recap of the first of the four-game series:

Final Score: Astros 15, A's 0.

Record: 95-50, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (15-5, 2.99 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Mike Fiers (14-4, 3.97 ERA).

1) Houston just keeps scoring

If 21 runs on Sunday wasn't enough, Houston picked right up with the scoring on Monday night. Alex Bregman was the one who popped the cork, getting a three-run homer against former-teammate Mike Fiers. Yordan Alvarez made it back-to-back homers on the very next pitch, getting a solo shot, then Chirinos extended the lead to 6-0 with a two-run home run of his own before the first inning was over.

Jose Altuve joined in on the fun in the bottom of the second, getting a two-run shot followed by a solo homer by Michael Brantley for the second set of back-to-back jacks in as many innings. Later in the inning, Yordan Alvarez hit his second home run of the night, and the sixth of the night for Houston, with a mammoth shot to the upper deck in right field. Robinson Chirinos scored another before the inning was over, an RBI-single to make it an 11-0 Astros lead. They went the next few innings scoreless before scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth, making it 12-0.

2) Greinke tosses six scoreless 

Meanwhile, Zack Greinke was quietly putting together a solid start on the mound. He didn't allow a hit until the top of the third, and only one other over his six innings of work.

He issued no walks and struck out five, throwing arguably his best start since joining the Astros. Greinke's final line: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.

3) Relievers finish it off while the offense keeps scoring

With Greinke done after six scoreless, the Astros turned the ball over to Bryan Abreu in the seventh. In that inning, he was able to work around a two-out double to keep Oakland scoreless. In the bottom of the inning, Houston put two on base on a single and an error, setting up the seventh home run of the night, a three-run shot by Robinson Chirinos to push the lead to 15-0.

Abreu returned in the top of the eighth and despite allowing a leadoff walk was able to record another shutout inning. Cionel Perez had the ninth, and he completed the shutout with a scoreless inning to finish off the win in the series opener.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game series will be Tuesday night with another 7:10 PM start. Oakland is expected to start Tanner Roark (9-8, 3.86 ERA) while Houston will send Wade Miley (13-4, 3.35 ERA) to the mound to try and erase his terrible last start from his memory.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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5 questions on the John Wall trade

The Rockets made a big move. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets point guard carousel continued to spin Wednesday night, as the Woj bomb-iest of Houston-related Woj bombs erupted in the Space City:

For the third year in a row, the Rockets will begin the season with a new point guard, in an attempt to finally find someone that can play alongside James Harden. Let's take a look at how the Rockets got to this point, and what it means moving forward.

What led to the trade?

Russell Westbrook simply wanted out. Westbrook is the type of player that needs to be the number one ball handler and that simply wasn't ever going to happen on a James Harden led team. Other reports cited Westbrook's frustration with the lack of accountability and casual atmosphere within the locker room. Ultimately if anyone was going to be moved between Harden and Westbrook, it was always going to be Westbrook.

Why John Wall?

This one is another fairly straightforward answer: they both have relatively similar contracts. Each is making an absurdly overpriced $40 million this season, and both were disgruntled with their current team. Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone and Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard tossed the idea around a few weeks ago, but couldn't find a deal they liked. It was reported that discussions resumed Wednesday afternoon and within a few hours the deal was done in an almost one-for-one swap.

How does Wall fit?

This is a little more complicated because it's not exactly known what head coach Stephen Silas' game plan is. It's also difficult to predict whether or not Harden will still be on the roster when the season starts. But let's assume that Harden takes the court for the Rockets and that Silas' system resembles something similar to what we've seen in Houston for the past few years. In that case, Wall would be a slight upgrade to Westbrook. Westbrook is more athletic than Wall, but when healthy Wall was no slouch. In addition he's a much better defensive player and has much better court vision than Westbrook. Westbrook's assists were usually a bailout after attacking the lane with his head down, while Wall is more likely to set up a teammate.

This isn't to say that Wall doesn't need the ball though. He's fairly ball dominant, but not nearly as much as Westbrook. Harden proved last season that he's capable of effectively playing off the ball if necessary, so it seems like a better fit from a distribution rate alone. If they can find that sweet spot like they did with Chris Paul and stagger the lineups so that each star gets their own time to create, there's potential for an improved Rockets team more reminiscent of their 2018 run than the past two years.

What are the best and worst case scenarios?

The worst case is that the Rockets were sold a lemon. Wall has potential to be an upgrade, but comes with huge risk. He last took the court in 2018, where he was sidelined with a knee injury. He subsequently ruptured his Achilles in an accident at his home while recovering from the knee injury, forcing Wall off the court for almost two years. It's possible an extremely unfortunate Wall reinjures something and completely derails the machinations of the trade. Even if he's recovered fully, it will take time to get him up to game speed which could frustrate Harden on a team that can't afford a slow start in their stacked conference. Harden has managed to cultivate drama with just about every co-star he's played with, so there's no reason to assume this attempt would go any better. If things turn sour, Harden could be out the door even quicker than expected.

The best case scenario is that Wall arrives ready to play team basketball and resembles the better part of his pre-injury form. Wall and Harden buy into Silas' new system, space the floor, and take turns carving up the lane with dribble drives and kick outs to players who can actually hit from distance. This version of the Rockets could potentially be a 3-seed in this year's Western Conference.

Who won the trade?

At the moment the Rockets. Not only did they remove at least one of their locker room distractions, but they also gain a first round pick. If Wall can stay healthy and Silas can keep both stars happy, this team should be a lot more fun to watch than last season's clunker.

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