Catching Up

5 quick thoughts on the current state of Houston sports

Rockets.com

June is usually when most of us take time off, because that is when things slow down in the sports world. After two weeks off, I returned to find I missed out on quite a bit. After a week in Vegas for the WSOP and another in Canada for some R & R, it's time to catch up on some big topics:


1) The Canada Curse is real

Blame me for the Astros seven game losing streak. Every time I am out of the country, everything goes to hell. The Texans record when I am in Canada? They are 0-3. The Astros did not win a game while I was there. I think it is time for the fan bases to take up a collection to make sure I go when none of the local teams are playing.

2) Despite that losing streak...

Yordan Alvarez might be one of the most exciting prospects the Astros have had since...Carlos Correa? Alex Bregman? He has not missed a beat since coming up from Triple-A, where he was putting up MVP like numbers. He has a smooth, powerful swing, and the scary part is he is only 21 years old. Yes, teams will figure him out at some point and he will have to adjust, but if he is anything close to what he has shown? The Astros will have yet another star. As for the losing streak? These are going to happen in a long season. The Astros are getting healthy again, and at some point adding a third top-line starter will have them back in the mix for another World Series title.

3) Shakeup in the AAC and how it impacts UH

UConn is going to return to the Big East, primarily because of travel and the fact that the school is focused primarily on basketball. The future of its football program is up in the air. What does it mean for UH and the AAC? It's probably a good thing. UConn basketball has fallen off the face of the earth, and the once-proud program offers little to the AAC. The football program, also once on the cusp of success, has been in a tailspin. It would not take much in the way of a program to be an upgrade for the conference. But sticking with 11 would not be the worst thing in the world, either. It would mean a bigger split for the remaining schools, and is there really a program out there that would move the needle? BYU? Sure, but they seem happy as independents. Boise? Success, but offers little in the way of a TV market and travel is an issue. Maybe Air Force or Army, but beyond that, there really is not a program that adds much. Buffalo out of the MAC is on the rise, and might be worth a look, but the conference might be better off at 11. The addition of Wichita State in basketball was a good trade-up from UConn and this might be a case of addition by subtraction.

4) Rockets dead stare

There's a beef between James Harden and Chris Paul. There's not a beef between Harden and Paul. The coach is upset. The coach isn't upset. Who knows what is going on with the Rockets? This team is close, and the Warriors are set to take a step back. But what if the Clippers sign Khawi Leonard? The Lakers have made moves, but they are still a mess, so who knows. The Rockets have to be chafing at the fact that the Toronto Raptors were able to go all in and win the title. Chris Paul's onerous contract will be tough to work around, but they should be adding, not subtracting. One more try with this group would not be a bad thing. But they need some stability, and nothing they are doing right now screams that. At least the Texans have taken some of the heat off...

5) Oh my, Texans

The Texans have become an absolute mess. No GM? No problem, right? Bill O'Brien is on the case. O'Brien is a good coach. But so far, he has not shown himself to be a great one. Or even a very good one. Now he is head coach, de facto OC and GM? While it's a leap to say all the firings were racially motivated, the more likely scenario is O'Brien just wanted "his guys." At worst it is a bad look. So he is basically reading from the Bill Belichick playbook. We have seen this before. The problem is, O'Brien is not Belichick. Neither likes to be questioned by the media or anyone else. The best managers have a combination of people underneath them who understand the vision and goals, and others who will challenge those. Most organizations in the NFL don't like the latter. O'Brien is a perfect example of this. The good news is we will now know how to blame. If it works? O'Brien looks like a genius. But if it spirals out of control - which is a real possibility - there will be no one else responsible. The Texans have been the picture of stability to a fault. Now they seem to be falling part at the seams. Here is hoping it all works out. But skepticism is warranted.

The wrap-up

Honestly, things are not that bad. Thank goodness for the Astros, who are run like a model franchise, and UH athletics, which seems to be in a really good place. The Rockets should be fine, once they sit back and realize that adding a couple key pieces could make all the difference in the world. As for the Texans? We will find out soon enough. The flagship franchise of the city, however, is at a crossroads. It is not a rudderless ship, but can the rudder steer them where they want to go? That remains to be seen.

Astros finish the series with a win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With an overpowering win on Wednesday night, the Astros went into the series finale on Thursday night hoping to split the series and travel back to Houston on a good note. Here is how the game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 2.

Record: 61-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wade Miley (8-4, 3.25 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Matt Harvey (3-5, 7.09 ERA).

1) Bats stay hot

Houston's offense provided another significant lead early in Thursday night's game, getting two two-out walks in the top of the first to set up a two-RBI double by Yordan Alvarez to take an immediate 2-0 lead. They followed that up with a three-run third inning, including RBIs from Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel along with a solo home run by George Springer.

Alex Bregman extended the lead in the fifth, getting a solo home run of his own to make it a 6-0 lead. They would ride those six runs all the way to the end to the victory.

2) Miley with a decent start

Wade Miley had an excellent start to his night, getting through the first four innings without allowing a hit with just a couple of walks. He allowed the first hit to the Angels in the fifth, but would not allow a run until the sixth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Miley would have his worst inning of the evening, allowing a couple of hits which paired with an error would end up putting the Angels in position to trim the lead to 6-2. Will Harris came in to finish off the inning.

Still, it was a decent night for Miley, and with the early offense behind him, he was able to leave in line for the win. His final line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3K, 0 HR.

3) Bullpen finishes off the series split

After Harris finished off the sixth for Miley, the seventh belonged to Collin McHugh. Mchugh worked around a one-out double, keeping it at 6-2 heading to the eighth.

Ryan Pressly took over for his usual eighth-inning role, and he was able to work around a leadoff double by Mike Trout by retiring the next three batters to send things to the ninth. Roberto Osuna came in for the ninth and recorded the final three outs, despite a two-out triple, to complete the win.

Up Next: The Astros will take a late-night flight back to Houston tonight to start a weekend three-game series with the Rangers beginning on Friday night. The series opener will be at 7:10 PM tomorrow and it the expected pitching matchup is Mike Minor (8-4, 2.73 ERA) for the Rangers going up against Houston's ace, Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.98 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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