Houston put the final sweep on the Rangers this week to complete the Lone Star Series, winning two games to finish the season series at 13-6. Justin Verlander notched his 19th win with a 4-1 triumph on Tuesday then Gerrit Cole became the third Astro and 18th major leaguer since 1900 to post 300 strikeouts in a season, tossing eight innings for his 18th win, a 3-2 squeaker on Wednesday.
Cole: Thanks fans after outing
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Cole joins J.R. Richard (1978, 1979) and Mike Scott (1986) in Houston's 300 club. Richard owns the club record with 313 in 1979. Cole may get two more starts to rewrite the record book.
Nolan Ryan crossed the barrier six times, including an amazing 383 whiffs in 1973 with the Angels and 301 in 1989 with the Rangers at the age of 42, but his highest mark during his tenure with the Astros was 270 in 1987. Roger Clemens won five strikeout titles but never reached 300 in a season. Randy Johnson passed the 300 mark six times, including 1998 when he was an Astro, but his time that year was split between Houston and Seattle. Johnson is the only pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts in fewer innings than Cole.
The victory Wednesday was also the 100th of the season for the Spacemen, the first team in the majors to reach that mark. It is the third straight season the Astros have compiled 100 or more wins, joining five other franchises (Yankees, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals and Athletics) who have set that mark.
Entering Friday, the Astros' magic number is two to clinch the AL West for the third year in a row. A playoff berth was clinched on Wednesday.
Yuli Gurriel stroked his 30th homer of the year, a career high. He joins Alex Bregman (37) and George Springer (35) in the 30-homer club. Jose Altuve (29) and Yordan Alvarez (26) could possibly join them before the season ends. The only other time three Astros bashed 30 or more homers in the same year was 2000 when Jeff Bagwell (47), Richard Hidalgo (44) and Moises Alou (30) christened the new Enron Field.
This weekend marks the final home series of the regular season before a final week on the road in Seattle and Anaheim. The Angels are in town without some of their best players who have been shut down due to injuries. Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons will still be available so there should be no letting up.
Zack Greinke (16-5, 6-1 with Houston) will pitch the Friday night 7:10 pm Central opener against Jaime Barria (4-9). Wade Miley (14-5) is slated for the Saturday 6:10 pm Central start opposite lefty Patrick Sandoval (0-3) then Verlander (19-6) goes for his 20th win against Jose Rodriguez (0-0) in the 1:10 pm Central Sunday finale. The Astros are 9-3 against Anaheim this season and 58-20 (.744) at home.
Houston welcomed back shortstop Carlos Correa this week and he will be eased back into the action as the regular season concludes. Relievers Brad Peacock and Ryan Pressly are hoping to be available once the postseason begins.
The Astros will need to win just four of the upcoming nine games to break the team mark for wins in a season, set last year at 103.
- Bob Hulsey