A HOME RUN NIGHT

Astros superstars and social A-listers hit home run for kids and animals

Photo by Jacob Power

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

June is typically a quiet month for local sports and society happenings, but there was absolutely nothing quiet about the electric Team Up for Kids and K9s soiree. Boasting an all-star lineup of Houston Astros stars present and past, the annual red carpet event is a must-attend merging of the sporting and social scenes in Houston.

Justin Verlander and Kate Upton.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

The buzz was palpable when supermodel Kate Upton and husband and Astros ace, Justin Verlander, strolled into the gleaming Houston fashion house, Tootsies. Astros fan favorites Lance McCullers Jr. and José Altuve, the event hosts, casually mixed and mingled with a who's-who of Houston scenesters. Blue, the adorable black Labrador retriever and Astros explosives-sniffing service dog, curled up with Upton, McCullers, and curious kids for photos. Adoptable animals from BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions were paraded between aisles of high couture.

Now in its third year, the feel-good party benefits causes close to McCullers' and Altuve's hearts: homeless animals and children with cancer. This year saw nearly $400,000 raised for the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which advocates for pet rescue, adoption, and no-kill shelters (run by McCullers and his wife, Kara) and the Sunshine Kids, one of Altuve's many chosen kid-specific charities that he donates to via his José Altuve Foundation and Athletes and Causes.

Brittany Perry, Jake Marisnick, Gerrit Cole, and Amy Cole.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

One by one, Astros stars such as Carlos Correa, George Springer, Tony Kemp, and Gerrit Cole casually crashed the party, as did Hall-of-Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. After gushing guests sipped cocktails and passed the velvet ropes to have their pictures taken with McCullers and Altuve, attention turned to the live auction.

In-demand items included autographed memorabilia and the G.O.A.T., a one-of-a-kind piece sculpture by Scott Joseph Moore and Frankie Gonzalez that pays tribute to the history of the Houston Astros organization and its greatest members. Hands quickly shot up when a VIP dinner with McCullers, wife Kara, and Altuve, hosted by restaurateur Ben Berg at B.B. Butchers, was announced.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the custom portraits of Altuve, McCullers, Verlander, Correa, and Biggio by artist Michael Vahl.


Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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