Northern Exposure

Oh yeah, the Astros made a trade with the Blue Jays, too

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So July 31, 2019 will be going down as one of the most exciting dates in Astros History. This day will be enough to shut up the haters because #TakeItBack is becoming more possible by the minute. Unless you lived under an I45 bridge, you knew today was the MLB trade deadline. The Astros had been fairly quiet, and fans were growing impatient; to the point that when Marcus Stroman was traded to the Mets, they were trying to justify trading for Trevor Bauer. While they managed to nail down yet another ace to bolster their pitching rotation in Zack Greinke, the Astros trade that really got my attention was the one between the Astros and Blue Jays.

I have been a Blue Jays fan since I was a child growing up in the yellow prairies of Alberta. Yes, I do own a Joey Bats jersey. The start of the millennium marked my move to the great state of Texas, and I have been following the Astros since my move (Big Puma, anyone?). How could I not when the Juice Box is literally 25 minutes away? So, today took an interesting turn when the Blue Jays traded Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini to the Astros for nothing but Derek Fisher. I painfully reminisced over Sanchez's starts (or lack thereof) the past few seasons. He has only pitched in 51 games since the 2017 season. Finger injuries have plagued him; from a finger caught in a falling suitcase in 2017 to being pulled out of a game for a broken finger nail this season. Hand injuries are Sanchez's kryptonite so it was hard to wrap my mind around where he would help improve a pitching rotation that had just added Zack Greinke. Sanchez's last couple of starts have been a bit reminiscent of his 2016 season. His July 28th game against the Tampa Bay Rays had his most exciting start where he allowed no runs to be scored until the 5th inning and had 10 strike outs. Sanchez should not pitch for more than 4 or 5 innings because the exhaustion can clearly be seen in his demeanor on the mound. Maybe it is time for Sanchez to take on a relief role on a team that has the almighty wizard that is Brent Strom.

Joe Biagini, is admittedly, a player I have been indifferent to. He has a 3-1 record but struggled in his outing against the Royals. Looking at his stats for his short 4-year career, this is his second-best season. Stepping back and taking a look at this trade, it is hard to see how the Astros got away with only sending Derek Fisher for Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. I have heard various comments on Derek Fisher but per Ross Atkins, he is confident in his level of play and expected to provide depth, however Fisher is a left fielder and currently that position is being dominated by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All I can say to Ross Atkins is, bless your heart.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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