Houston avoids the sweep

Altuve's late homer helps lift Astros over Yankees in finale

Jose Altuve's big homer in the eighth pushed Houston ahead on Thursday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With the Yankees outslugging the Astros through the first two games of the series to set up a potential sweep on Thursday afternoon, Houston needed to end this three-game set and overall road trip with a solid outing to get some momentum back in their favor. Thanks in large part to a big late highlight from Jose Altuve, they would do just that to get a win as they head back home.

Final Score: Astros 7, Yankees 4

Astros' Record: 16-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Andre Scrubb (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Chad Green (0-3)

Stanton does it again, but then Alvarez does it twice

For the third time this series, Giancarlo Stanton would launch a home run against the Astros to spark excitement. It came in the bottom of the third against Lance McCullers Jr., starting the scoring for both sides and giving New York a 1-0 lead and Stanton a homer in each game the last three days. McCullers Jr. would allow another dinger, a two-run shot by Clint Frazier in the bottom of the fourth, which at the time broke a 1-1 tie to put the Yankees back in front 3-1.

Lance would go on to finish a decent day on the mound, with just those three runs allowed, leaving his team in striking distance. His final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 105 P. Opposite of him on the mound was his former teammate, Gerrit Cole, who had a rough day dealing with Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez hit not one, but two solo home runs off of Cole, who had a less-dominant day than usual against his former team, finishing seven innings with just four strikeouts and the two runs off of Yordan's homers.

Altuve's go-ahead homer helps Houston avoid the sweep

That left things at 3-2 in favor of New York after seven innings, with Andre Scrubb taking over for McCullers and tossing a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. Momentum shifted in favor of the Astros in the top of the eighth, with Kyle Tucker leading off with a walk followed by a single by Aledmys Diaz. With one out, Jose Altuve would get the biggest hit of the day, a three-run go-ahead homer to push the Astros to a 5-3 lead.

New York would get within a run in the bottom of the inning against Ryan Pressly, who entered for a two-inning save, but Martin Maldonado would add two more runs to the lead on a two-run shot in the top of the ninth. Pressly would complete the save, holding on to the new three-run lead to help Houston avoid the sweep and salvage a game of the series in the Bronx.

Up Next: Houston kicks off a ten-game homestand Friday night, with the first of three against the Blue Jays kicking off at 7:10 PM Central. Jose Urquidy (2-2, 3.71 ERA) will make a start for the Astros, while Ross Stripling (0-1, 6.39 ERA) will be on the mound for Toronto.

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A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.


But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

“In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

“We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

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