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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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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