Houston takes two of three from LA

Tucker's homer lifts Astros to series win over Angels

Kyle Tucker's fifth inning homer ended up being the difference in Sunday's series finale against the Angels. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, the Astros hoped to have an outing more like their performance in Friday's opener than Saturday's middle game. Although it would be as strong of an offensive performance as that, they would get enough runs and have solid pitching to win the series.

Final Score: Astros 3, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 83-59, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Quijada (0-1)

Houston strikes first, Angels tie it up against McCullers Jr.

After Lance McCullers Jr. would erase a leadoff single and walk for a scoreless top of the first, Houston would get the scoring started in the bottom half. A leadoff single by Jose Altuve would get him in position, after a one-out walk, to score later in the inning on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, putting them in front 1-0.

McCullers Jr. held that lead well through four innings, hitting a batter in the second, allowing a single in the fourth, but retiring the other batters he faced along the way over that span. Los Angeles tied the game up against him in the fifth, though, with a one-out solo homer, the only run he'd give up on the day, as he'd go on to finish six quality innings. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Tucker homers, bullpen holds down the lead to win the series

McCullers Jr. would end up getting the win, as before his last inning of work, his offense would give him a lead. Yuli Gurriel reached base on a one-out single, setting up Kyle Tucker in the next at-bat, who launched a 406-foot go-ahead homer to make it a 3-1 Houston lead. That gave their bullpen three innings to cover and hang on to the two-run advantage.

They'd do it well, using arguably their strongest trio of relievers, starting with Ryne Stanek in the top of the seventh, who sat down the Angels 1-2-3. Kendall Graveman had the eighth and was able to work around a leadoff walk and one-out single to maintain the lead. That presented Ryan Pressly with a save opportunity in the ninth. He would notch his 24th of the season to wrap up the win, giving Houston the series win and continuing to dwindle their magic number to win the division in 2021.

Up Next: With this homestand over, the Astros will take back to the road, traveling up to Arlington to take on the Rangers for the final four games of the year in a series starting Monday at 7:05 PM Central. The opener's pitching matchup sets up to be Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.28 ERA) for Houston and Spencer Howard (0-3, 6.21 ERA) for Texas.

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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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