The Astros finally got the opportunity to pop the champagne bottles Sunday afternoon, besting the Angels in Houston for their 102nd victory of the season. Justin Verlander was vincible but excellent on the mound, limiting the visitors to two runs across five innings, supported by a barrage of home runs.
A leadoff shot from George Springer in the bottom of the first started the scoring, though the 1-0 lead it created was quickly wiped out by a Michael Hermosillo triple to score Jared Walsh in the second. Evidently, George didn't feel like playing from behind today. With Aledmys Díaz on base in the bottom of the second, Springer collected his second dinger of the day, going deep to left on a 3-2 pitch to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.
The Angels answered with a run when Kole Calhoun came around to score on a 4th inning groundout, bringing the Halos within one, but Springer impossibly answered again in the bottom of the frame with another left field blast, this time on a 3-0 count.
After the Angels failed to answer off of Verlander in the fifth, the floodgates opened. The first seven batters to the plate reached base safely, including a two run homer from Alex Bregman after Michael Brantley led things off with a hit.
Yordan Alvarez followed the bomb with a double, part of another phenomenal day at the plate for the prodigious slugger, and the bases were then loaded by a Yuli Gurriel single and a walk to Díaz, bringing Robbie Chirinos to the plate. He delivered with a two run single, which extended the lead to 8-2 before a Josh Reddick walk.
George Springer then made his first out of the day, and the first of the noinning, but the Astros weren't done. A bases loaded passed ball scored a run and put two men in scoring position for Jose Altuve, who notched a single to score one.
At this point, the Astros held a 10-2 lead and still had runners on the corners with one out, but a Michael Brantley GIDP mercifully closed out the frame. Brad Peacock relieved Justin Verlander in the sixth, making a long awaited return. He had a strong inning, yielding just a walk.
Things got a bit messy in the seventh, as Framber Valdez was called on in mop up duty and promptly loaded the bases before being pulled. Josh James was called upon to get out of the mess and did, but not until all three inherited runners had come around to score. Despite the big inning, the Astros lead remained eight at 13-5.
That would be the end of the scoring, as the Angels pen managed clean mop up duty and Chris Devenski delivered a perfect sixth before Roberto Osuna came on for another save. The win gave the Astros another AL West title, confirming what has been a foregone conclusion for much of the season. The Astros will continue to chasr home field advantage with a two game set against Seattle looming next. Springer's three home runs gave him 38 for the season despite missing several games, but Bregman's gave him sole possession of the club lead after Springer's third briefly tied things up. Yordan Alvarez was a perfect 4-for-4, marking his second four hit effort in his half a season in the majors.