Houston moves to 4-0

Astros stay perfect, complete sweep of A's

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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