Astros and Verlander cool off A’s bats for 4-2 series clinching win

Astros and Verlander

After a heatwave that seemed to last months, it was a beautiful sunny and yes, cool day in Houston. It was the rubber match of a three-game set between the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros.

Game 1 of the series saw Gerrit Cole shut down the A’s on one run and two hits. A four-run second and seven-run third accounted for all the Astros runs in an 11-1 rout.  It was Apollo 11 night and by coincidence, the game saw the Astros get 11 runs, Cole strike out 11 A’s to get his 11th win, and Yuri Gurriel extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Game 2 was a different story as the A’s, down to runs in the top of the ninth, too a 3-2 lead on a three-run home run by Matt Olson. The Astros would score int he bottom of the ninth, but could not tie the game and got a split after two games in this series.

Game 3 was a matinee to see which team would take the series. For the A’s, it was right-hander Chris Bassitt and for the Astros, it was right-hander, Justin Verlander on the hill.

The game started out rough for the Astros as A’s leadoff hitter, Marcus Semien hit a routine ground ball to third, but Bregman threw wild to first and failed to get Semien out. After a flyout by Matt Chapman, Matt Olson singled to right and scored Semien from first when right-fielder Josh Reddick could not pick up the ball. Olson moved to second on the error and it was 1-0 Oakland. Verlander would finish off the inning by striking out the next two batters.

The next two innings saw Bassitt and Verlander throw bullets as they totaled 10 K’s through the first two and a half frames. Then, in the bottom of the third, the Astros got their first hit of the game when Robinson Chirinos doubled down the right-field line with one out. Then, on a 1-2 pitch from Bassitt, George Springer hit a blast over the left-center field wall to make it 2-1 Astros. Alex Bregman struck out to end the inning, but the damage was done.

Verlander was cruising along and after five innings pitched, he had nine strikeouts and allowed just one run on one hit. He kept the A’s off-balance with his command but his pitch count was high. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Chirinos was hit by a Bassitt pitch. He was sacrificed to second by Myles Straw. After a Springer groundout, Jose Altuve stepped to the plate. Bassitt threw him a cutter and Altuve smashed it 428-feet to dead center to make it 4-1 Houston before Bregman flew out to end the inning.

Astros Altuve and Springer

In the ninth, the A’s tried to get a rally going when they put up a run to make it 4-2, but Roberto Osuna shut them down and the Astros took the series with a 4-2 win.

Verlander came out of the game after six innings of two-hit, one-run ball. He would give up one unearned run, walk two and strike out 11. Bassitt would exit after matching those six innings by Verlander, but he gave up four earned runs on two two-run homers.

Turi Gurriel extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the fourth.

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