Houston avoids the sweep

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

Astros' Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez
Jose Altuve's big homer in the eighth pushed Houston ahead on Thursday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jose Altuve's big homer in the eighth pushed Houston ahead on Thursday.

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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It should come as no surprise that after a slow start to the season, fans and media are starting to voice concerns about the organization's leadership and direction. The latest evidence of this involved Astros adviser Reggie Jackson and the comments he made on Jon Heyman's podcast, The Show.

Jackson discussed the Astros reported interest in starting pitcher Blake Snell. He said that ultimately, Snell was looking for a deal the Astros weren't comfortable with in terms of money and structure of the contract.

Which is interesting considering the Astros were okay with paying 5-years, $95 million for closer Josh Hader, but not willing to pay Snell 2-years, $62 million. We believe the opt-outs in Snell's contract were a dealbreaker for Houston. And of course the money played a role.

However, the Astros passing on Snell is not the intriguing part of the story. It was Jackson talking about the club's power structure in the front office and how they go about making decisions.

“Being fiscally responsible is what kicked us out of the Snell deal… That's too much for him… Between the 4 or 5 people who make decisions with the Astros, we don't play that game,” said Jackson.

Based on Jackson's comments in the interview, the decision makers are Jim Crane, Dana Brown, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Reggie. But not necessarily in that order. He also mentioned that they had conversations with manager Joe Espada and his staff, plus some input from the analytics department.

These comments add to the concerns we've had about the front office since Crane moved on from GM James Click and operated without a general manager for several months. Which led to the disastrous signing of Jose Abreu and to a lesser extent Rafael Montero.

Which begs the question, are the Astros in a better spot now with their front office? Many blame Dana Brown for the state of the starting rotation. While there were some red flags this spring, anticipating injuries to Jose Urquidy, Justin Verlander, and Framber Valdez is asking a lot.

But only bringing in Hader to replace all the innings left behind by Hector Neris, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman, and Ryne Stanek always felt risky.

Finally, what can the Astros due in the short-term to weather the storm while Framber and JV rehab from injury?

And is Hunter Brown the biggest liability in the rotation?

Be sure to watch the video above for the full in-depth discussion.

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