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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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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