Jose Urquidy leads the Astros to clinching home field advantage through the ALCS.
There was a lot riding on Jose Urquidy’s final regular season start Friday night in Anaheim, but the rookie right-hander stepped up and delivered a gem. He tossed six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk, as the Astros beat the Angels 4-0.
The win kept the Astros two games ahead of the Yankees for the AL’s best record with two games to play. Since the Astros won the season series between the two, they have now clinched home field advantage through the ALCS and will face either the Rays or A’s in the ALDS. They need just one more win to clinch home field throughout the playoffs.
The win also was a big statement for Urquidy. Wade Miley had been the team’s presumed fourth starter in the playoffs until a disastrous September derailed his season. Urquidy stepping up with this outing may make him the favorite to take the ball in a potential Game Four.
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Even if the Astros decide to go with Miley, Urquidy has pitched well enough to at least be in the bullpen for the ALDS. He’s put up a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings in September, holding batters to a meager .474 OPS. He also seems to have established an inside track on a rotation spot in 2020.
Alex Bregman hit his 41st homer of the season in the second inning, while Michael Brantley added a three-run blast in the eighth to put the game away. Hopefully that marks the end of Brantley’s September slump, which would be perfect timing.
Harris is Immaculate
After Ryan Pressly threw a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts, Will Harris handled the eighth. He proceeded to strike out the side on just nine pitches, completing the “immaculate inning” feat.
Harris threw just the sixth immaculate inning in team history, and the first since Brandon Backe in 2004. It put the cherry on top of a magnificent season in which he’s posted a 4-1 record and 1.51 ERA in 59.2 innings, setting himself up for a nice payday in free agency this winter.
The Astros will send Justin Verlander to the mound tonight for his final regular season start. He’s six strikeouts shy of 3,000 for his career and 12 shy of 300 for the season. He’s also seeking his 21st win of the year and will be opposed by Jose Suarez.