Springer's Three HR's Leads Astros, Capture AL West Title

Verlander wins 20th as Astros route Angels

Shaun Bijani
September 22, 2019 - 4:43 pm

The Astros ride three Springer "Dingers" to victory and the AL West title, blasting the Angels 13-5 at Minute Maid Park Sunday afternoon. 

These days, it's 'pick your poison' when it comes to which Astro you'd rather have beat you. Not many players have been seeing and hitting the ball better and harder of late than Astros rookie sensation, Yordan Alvarez. However, George Springer, coming into Sunday's game had been dialed in of late himself, hitting 9 home runs over his last 16 games. Both sluggers pounded the Angels (70-86) pitching on Sunday, helping the Astros (102-54) to their third consecutive AL West title.  

Springer led off the game with a home run, his 12th leadoff homer of the season and his 36th overall, sending it 377 feet into the Crawford Boxes, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead. Springer's blast to begin the game, put's him just 1 home run shy of tying Alfonso Soriano's MLB record of 13 leadoff home runs set in 2003 with the New York Yankees. 

After getting two quick outs to start the second-inning, the Angels got back-to-back triples from Jared Walsh and Michael Hermosillo to tie the ballgame at 1-1.

Setting the table to try and get the run back, Astros third baseman, Aledmys Diaz led off the bottom of the second-inning with a single to right. Angels starter Jose Rodriguez, sat down the next two Astros hitter's but while working to George Springer, the Angels hurler, making his first career start, sent a 2-2 slider into the backstop, allowing Diaz to advance to second base. 

The wild-pitch likely changed the approach in pitching to Springer with two-outs in the inning.

Springer, on the next pitch, spun on a 3-2 slider that was left hanging in the zone, sending a towering shot atop the train tracks in left-field for his second homer of the game and 37th of the season giving the Astros a 3-1 lead. 

The Astros threatened again in the third-inning, but following a Yordan Alvarez one-out double to left, putting runners on second and third, Angels reliever Jose Suarez settled down to get the final two outs of the inning. 

Verlander got into a bit of trouble to start the top of the fourth, allowing Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons to reach with no-outs, putting runners on second and third. Jared Walsh grounded out to second but that plated Calhoun to make it a 3-2 ballgame. Angels third baseman, Matt Thaiss worked the count full but after a mound visit from Robinson Chirinos, Verlander blew a 96-mph fastball by him upstairs for his third-strikeout to escape further damage in the frame. 

While the Astros might have squandered an opportunity in the third, failing to score Bregman from third with less than two-outs, Springer figured it best to launch his third-homer of the game and 38th of the season, into the Crawford Boxes to make it a 4-2 Astros advantage. 

Springer became the second Astro this season to record a three-home run game since Yuli Gurriel did it in Baltimore last month. 

Verlander, retired the first two Angels in the fifth, but had to escape a little trouble for the second straight inning after a Brian Goodwin single and a free pass to Pujols. Verlander, up to 91-pitches after walking Pujols, dug deep and got Calhoun down on strikes, blowing a 95-mph heater by him to sneak out of the inning and preserve the Astros 4-2 lead. 

Michael Brantley led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left-center, setting the table for Alex Bregman who crushed his 39th home run of the season atop the train tracks, giving the Astros a 6-2 lead. 

Yordan Alvarez, who is seeing the ball as good as anybody right now, laced a double to the left-centerfield wall for his third-hit of the game, prompting another pitching change for the Angels. 

Justin Anderson, a Houston native and graduate of St. Pius X high school, came on in relief of Miguel Del Pozo. 

After Gurriel beat Anderson to the bag for an infield single, putting runners on the corners with no-outs in the fifth, the former Panther walked Diaz on five-pitches before Chirinos shot a groundball up the middle past a diving Fletcher to score two more Astros runs, making it an 8-2 ballgame. 

With runners on second and third with nobody out, Josh Reddick worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases for George Springer, who had hit three-homers on the day already was attacked inside by Anderson with fastballs and sliders before Springer popped-out to Fletcher behind first base. 

The long and laborious inning continued for Anderson, who threw one to the backstop while working to Altuve with runners on second and third. The passed ball, as it was officially scored, plated Diaz from third. On the next pitch, Altuve punched one into centerfield for his first hit on the day and 70th RBI of season, scoring Chirinos to make it a 10-2 ballgame, effectively ending the afternoon for Anderson. 

Brad Peacock, reinstated from the 10-day IL earlier in the day, and hoping to find a prominant role on the postseason roster himself, pitched a scoreless sixth with a strikeout for the Astros. 

Justin Verlander (20-6, 2.52), without his best stuff on the day, dialed it in when he needed to get a big out to earn the 20th victory of the season working 5 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits while striking out 5 Angels. The future hall-of-famer will have to wait until his final start of the season, scheduled for next Saturday in Anaheim, to take down the next milestone and become just the 18th pitcher all-time to capture the hallowed 3,000 strikeout mark for a career. 

After Alvarez laced his fourth-hit of the day to centerfield and Abraham Toro worked a walk, Kyle Tucker entered the game to pinch-run for Alvarez at second. Aledmys Diaz followed with a line-drive home run (HR had to be reviewed) off the yellow-line atop the Crawford Boxes for his 8th longball of the season, giving the Astros a 13-2 lead. 

Framber Valdez came on to work the eighth-inning for the Astros. Valdez, failed to record an out, loaded the bases after allowing a hit and two-walks on 16-pitches. Josh James came on to try and clean up the mess but the Angels were able to plate 3 runs in the frame to make it a 13-5 ballgame. 

Devenski pitched a perfect eighth-inning and Roberto Osuna sat the Angels down in order to give the Astros their third straight AL West title and 9th full-season division title in franchise history. 

 

Game Notes

George Springer hit his 36th, 37th and 38th HR's of the season, becoming the second Astro this season with a 3-HR game - Yuli Gurriel did it August 10th in Baltimore.

Justin Verlander (20-6, 2.53) won his 20th game of the season. Verlander won 20-games once before, doing so in 2011 (24-5, 2.40) when he won the Cy Young Award with the Detroit Tigers. 

Yordan Alvarez went 4x4 with 2 doubles and extended his on-base streak to 26-games. 

Alex Bregman hit his 39th HR of the season. The last Astro to hit 39 or more HR's in a season was Lance Berkman in 2006. 

Coming Up

Astros scheduled rotation for the remainder of the season:

Monday - SCHEDULED OFF DAY

Tuesday (@SEA) - Cole *(Looking for his 19th win of the season)

Wednesday (@ SEA) - Greinke *(Looking for his 18th win of the season)

Thursday (@ LAA) - Miley *(Looking for a bounce back performance after recording a total of 4 outs in 3 of his last 4 starts)

Friday (@LAA) - Urquidy *(Looking to solidify a spot on the postseason roster)

Saturday (@LAA) - Verlander *(Could be looking for his 21st win of the season and 3,000th career strikeout)

Sunday (Regular season finale vs. LAA) - Cole *(Could be looking for his 20th win of the season)