Jose Altuve is back

Altuve returns, Astros start series against Mariners with a win

Jose Altuve's return sparked a big night for Houston's lineup. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After a get-right 3-1 series against the Angels over the weekend, the Astros continued the eight-game homestand on Monday by kicking off a four-game set against the Mariners. Houston hoped to fare better at home against them after dropping two of three in Seattle the last time they met earlier this month. The game also marked the return of Jose Altuve, who would play a big part in Houston starting the series with a win to move back to .500 on the year:

Final Score: Astros 5, Mariners 2

Astros' Record: 11-11, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (1-2)

Losing Pitcher: Justus Sheffield (1-2)

Jose Altuve makes a loud return to the lineup

Jose Altuve, making his return to the lineup after missing time due to COVID protocol, made his presence felt in the leadoff spot by getting on base in Houston's first at-bat in the bottom of the first. He would come around to score the first run of the game on an RBI double by Yordan Alvarez, who would also score on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, putting the Astros out to the early 2-0 lead.

Altuve would play a part in another scoring play in the bottom of the fourth, getting a two-out two-RBI single to make it a 4-1 game at the time. They scored again in the bottom of the fifth, with Alex Bregman reaching on an infield single and moving along to third to set up a sac fly by Kyle Tucker, extending the lead to four runs at 5-1.

Urquidy goes six while giving up two runs

The one run for the Mariners through those first five innings was a solo home run by Kyle Lewis off of Jose Urquidy in the top of the third. Urquidy was otherwise avoiding damage until a leadoff solo homer by Kyle Seager in the top of the sixth, making it a three-run game at 5-2. Urquidy would go on to finish that inning, but touching the high 90s in pitch count would not go any further. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 96 P.

Houston starts the series with a win

With Urquidy's night done, the first arm out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu, who would toss a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts. Ryne Stanek was next, erasing a one-out single and two-out walk to keep it a three-run game. With it still 5-2 going to the top of the ninth, the Astros would bring in closer Ryan Pressly, who would finish things off to start the series with a win, Houston's fourth in their last five games, putting them back at an even record.

Up Next: This series rolls on Tuesday night with another 7:10 PM start. Marco Gonzales (1-2, 6.04 ERA) will be on the mound for Seattle, while Cristian Javier (2-0, 1.32 ERA) will stay in the rotation for another start for Houston.

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Watson was missing from practice again. Photo by Zach Tarrant/

The Houston Texans had their second day in pads and it was a bright day for a couple of rookies.

1. Deshaun Watson was absent again from practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained the team is keeping Watson "engaged" and he has been helpful in the meeting room with the offense.

2. Watson, if Kelly is telling the truth, can absolutely help the quarterbacks with his knowledge. The offense shouldn't be that different, and Watson doesn't have anything against the quarterbacks specifically. It is strange to think Deshaun Watson would be helping the quarterbacks while actively wanting to be playing elsewhere, but Kelly has no reason to lie about Watson's level of engagement.

3. It was Roy Lopez day on Wednesday. The rookie defensive lineman had a sack and is quite the load to handle upfront. Lopez will have to build on these days to earn time on a busy defensive line but if he repeats this day, people will have to beat him out.

4. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins finds himself open quite a bit. Collins isn't afraid of traffic, though there aren't any real big hits in training camp. Collins' athleticism is very clear and as he grows more, he should earn more opportunities.

5. Brandin Cooks threw his hands up and let out an exasperated sound as Tyrod Taylor found Collins wide open in the middle of the field. Cooks was even more wide open in the end zone, and Taylor didn't see him.

6. Tyrod Taylor's legs will be a weapon in this offense. Taylor doesn't take off in a lot of the drills, but his mobility is apparent. Taylor did run into a sack by defensive lineman Derek Rivers.

7. Veteran wide receiver Chris Conley is extremely athletic and speedy. Conley can get vertical on all the defensive backs. In a pass-catching drill Conley wowed. The drill consisted of a coach wearing a pad and attacking the wideouts on a jump ball. Conley skied, ripped the ball out of the air, and withstood the attack from the coach easily coming down on both feet. Conley would make the team if the season started tomorrow.

8. Tight end Pharaoh Brown had a great catch beating Justin Reid for a touchdown on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Reid was very upset he lost the rep. Brown was solid last year and he remains one of the better tight ends on the team.

9. Linebacker Neville Hewitt has had some flashes in camp. Hewitt had over 100 tackles for the Jets last year to go along with 12 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. Hewitt had a hurry on Tuesday and a pass breakup on Wednesday. Hewitt is certainly in consideration for a spot in the revamped linebacker room.

10. Defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Jonathan Greenard each had sacks in a team period. Omenihu's rep was a forced fumble and Greenard darted through the middle of the line for his successful rep.

11. Tytus Howard had a hold your breath moment when he slowly got off the ground and gingerly walked off the field. Howard had to walk it off, but returned to practice with no issue. He has played a multitude of positions in training camp.

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