Back at home after a series split in Los Angeles, the Astros looked to work on little sleep in the series opener against the Rangers. Here is a quick rundown of the game:
Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 3.
Record: 62-37, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.99 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Mike Minor (8-5, 2.86 ERA).
1) Gurriel stays red hot to start up the offense
After a scoreless first inning, Houston jumped out to a 1-0 lead off the bat of Yuli Gurriel who hit his ninth home run in the month of July in the bottom of the second. That started a home run barrage that would take place in the bottom of the third.
It started with Jose Altuve who led off the inning with a solo home run to extend the lead to 2-0. Not to be outdone, Alex Bregman was up next and hit one of his own to make it 3-0. Still not avoiding batters, Mike Minor left a fastball in the zone to Yordan Alvarez in the next at-bat, which he turned around for a colossal home run, 474 feet to make it back-to-back-to-back home runs and a 4-0 Houston lead.
2) Verlander with a great start, gets tagged late
While the offense was putting up highlights of their own, Justin Verlander was quietly stringing together another gem of a start. While he had no 1-2-3 innings, the outs he was getting were mostly via strikeout.
After not allowing a run through the first 5.2 innings of his six innings of work, Verlander would give up back-to-back home runs to put a slight stain on his otherwise dominant night. He would finish off the sixth with his twelfth strikeout of the night on his 116th pitch, leaving the game with a 4-2 lead.
That made it a season-high in pitch count for Verlander and matched his second-highest strikeout total. His final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 2 HR.
3) Bullpen holds Rangers down to finish things off
With Verlander’s night complete after six innings, Houston went to their bullpen for the final three. Will Harris was the first reliever on the mound, taking over in the seventh. He faced a tough inning, watching a runner reach on an error before allowing a hit then a passed ball to set up an RBI-groundout to trim the lead to one run at 4-3. Harris would limit the damage there, though, preserving Houston’s lead another inning.
Josh James also found it tough to get through the Rangers quickly, allowing a single and a walk in the top of the eighth. He worked around the trouble, stranding both runners to keep it at 4-3. Roberto Osuna would come in for the save in the top of the ninth and would get it for his twenty-first of the season.
Up Next: This series will continue tomorrow with the first pitch of game two at 6:10 PM on Saturday. The Astros will likely have another bullpen day and therefore have no dedicated started named yet, but the Rangers are expected to start Ariel Jurado (5-5, 4.63 ERA). Houston was able to knock Jurado out after five runs in four innings in his last start.
The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.