Houston moves to 4-0

Astros stay perfect, complete sweep of A's

Jose Urquidy pitching for the Astros
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Jose Urquidy had a decent start Sunday, but it was Houston's bats that won them the game

Having outscored the A's heavily through the first three games to jump out to a 3-0 record and lead in this series, the Astros entered Sunday's game looking to complete the four-game sweep. They would do just that and in the same fashion as the prior three.

Jose Urquidy had a decent start, allowing just two runs, but it was once again Houston's offense that sealed the victory to improve them to 4-0 and take an early stranglehold on the AL West.

Final Score: Astros 9, A's 2

Astros' Record: 4-0, 1st in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Sean Manaea (0-1)

Houston jumps ahead early, again

Houston wasted no time trying to set the tone of the game on Sunday, with Kyle Tucker providing an early spark via a solo home run to jump out to a quick 1-0 advantage in the top of the first. Oakland would respond in their half of the inning, tying the game with an RBI-double during a lengthy sequence for Jose Urquidy.

In his first game back with his former team, Jason Castro made his presence known in the top of the second, putting the Astros back ahead with a two-run opposite-field homer to make it 3-1. Yuli Gurriel added two more in the next frame, getting a two-out two-RBI double to extend the lead to 5-1.

Blowing it open late

After the lengthy first, Jose Urquidy would settle in and breeze through the next few innings, not allowing another hit until a one-out triple in the fifth which would end his day after surpassing 100 pitches. His final line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 101 P.

Brandon Bielak would take over for Urquidy, allowing an RBI-groundout to bring in the runner on third and cut the lead to 5-2 before finishing the fifth. Houston would get that run back in the top of the sixth, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning with runners on the corners before Myles Straw would get the RBI-groundout to make it 6-2. A rare error by Matt Chapman would keep the inning alive and two runners on base, setting up Chas McCormick for his first major-league home run, bringing in three more to make it 9-2.

Astros complete the four-game sweep

Bielak remained on the mound, completing an impressive outing by taking the game the rest of the way, retiring every batter he faced, all 14, en route to the win. Houston completed the four-game sweep in dominating fashion, sending the A's to 0-4, with the Dodgers coming to Oakland next.

Up Next:The Astros will remain in California, heading to Anaheim to face the Angels for a short two-game series on Monday and Tuesday. The opener will get underway at 8:38 PM Central Monday evening, with Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.92 ERA in 2020) getting a shot as Houston's fifth starter, for now. Jose Quintana will make his first regular-season start for Los Angeles after spending the last four years with the Chicago Cubs.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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