Astros drop all four in Anaheim

Angels continue to out-slug Astros to complete four-game sweep

Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

With the Angles already locking up the series win by taking the first three games, including sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday, the Astros tried to salvage a game in the four-game set on Sunday. Here is how they did:

Final Score: Angels 9, Astros 5.

Record: 21-19, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Mike Mayers (1-0, 2.93 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-3, 3.61 ERA).

Astros score an early lead, Angels take it away immediately

Houston would continue bringing in runs in the first innings of games, taking an immediate 2-0 lead in Sunday's game after a one-out walk by Josh Reddick set up a two-run home run by Kyle Tucker. Aledmys Diaz extended the lead by one more run, hitting a solo home run in the next inning to make it 3-0.

Framber Valdez would falter in the second and third innings and give up that three-run lead, though, allowing three consecutive singles in the second to score run, then giving up three in the third on a two-run home run by Anthony Rendon and a sacrifice fly.

Astros tie as Houston leans on Valdez a bit too far

The game stayed 4-3 over the next few innings until the bottom of the sixth when the Angels would get another run on an RBI-single to make it 5-3. Carlos Correa got that run back immediately to lead off the top of the seventh, crushing a solo home run to make it a one-run game. The Astros went on to tie the game a few batters later thanks to an RBI-double by Abraham Toro, but despite having a runner on third with one out, they could not retake the lead in the inning.

Despite the tough middle innings and allowing the runs along the way, Valdez would give his team a much-needed lengthy outing on the mound, completing seven full innings before returning to the mound nearing 100 pitches in the bottom of the eighth. Leaving him out there would end up costing Houston, as he would allow three straight singles to start the inning to give the Angels another go-ahead run at 6-5 and end his day.

Angels complete the four-game sweep

Chris Devenski would enter out of Houston's bullpen, still no outs in the inning, and issued back-to-back walks to bring in another run. Los Angeles then blew it open with a two-RBI single to make it 9-5 before Brooks Raley would enter to get two strikeouts to finally put an end to the inning. The Astros would come up empty in the top of the ninth, giving Los Angeles the four-game sweep.

Up Next: Houston will travel up the California coast tonight to begin a five-game series with the A's over the next four days. The series will start Monday at 8:10 PM Central with Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.35 ERA) pitching for the Astros and Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.72 ERA) on the bump for the A's.

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5 questions on the John Wall trade

The Rockets made a big move. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets point guard carousel continued to spin Wednesday night, as the Woj bomb-iest of Houston-related Woj bombs erupted in the Space City:

For the third year in a row, the Rockets will begin the season with a new point guard, in an attempt to finally find someone that can play alongside James Harden. Let's take a look at how the Rockets got to this point, and what it means moving forward.

What led to the trade?

Russell Westbrook simply wanted out. Westbrook is the type of player that needs to be the number one ball handler and that simply wasn't ever going to happen on a James Harden led team. Other reports cited Westbrook's frustration with the lack of accountability and casual atmosphere within the locker room. Ultimately if anyone was going to be moved between Harden and Westbrook, it was always going to be Westbrook.

Why John Wall?

This one is another fairly straightforward answer: they both have relatively similar contracts. Each is making an absurdly overpriced $40 million this season, and both were disgruntled with their current team. Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone and Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard tossed the idea around a few weeks ago, but couldn't find a deal they liked. It was reported that discussions resumed Wednesday afternoon and within a few hours the deal was done in an almost one-for-one swap.

How does Wall fit?

This is a little more complicated because it's not exactly known what head coach Stephen Silas' game plan is. It's also difficult to predict whether or not Harden will still be on the roster when the season starts. But let's assume that Harden takes the court for the Rockets and that Silas' system resembles something similar to what we've seen in Houston for the past few years. In that case, Wall would be a slight upgrade to Westbrook. Westbrook is more athletic than Wall, but when healthy Wall was no slouch. In addition he's a much better defensive player and has much better court vision than Westbrook. Westbrook's assists were usually a bailout after attacking the lane with his head down, while Wall is more likely to set up a teammate.

This isn't to say that Wall doesn't need the ball though. He's fairly ball dominant, but not nearly as much as Westbrook. Harden proved last season that he's capable of effectively playing off the ball if necessary, so it seems like a better fit from a distribution rate alone. If they can find that sweet spot like they did with Chris Paul and stagger the lineups so that each star gets their own time to create, there's potential for an improved Rockets team more reminiscent of their 2018 run than the past two years.

What are the best and worst case scenarios?

The worst case is that the Rockets were sold a lemon. Wall has potential to be an upgrade, but comes with huge risk. He last took the court in 2018, where he was sidelined with a knee injury. He subsequently ruptured his Achilles in an accident at his home while recovering from the knee injury, forcing Wall off the court for almost two years. It's possible an extremely unfortunate Wall reinjures something and completely derails the machinations of the trade. Even if he's recovered fully, it will take time to get him up to game speed which could frustrate Harden on a team that can't afford a slow start in their stacked conference. Harden has managed to cultivate drama with just about every co-star he's played with, so there's no reason to assume this attempt would go any better.

The best case scenario is that Wall arrives ready to play team basketball and resembles the better part of his pre-injury form. Wall and Harden buy into Silas' new system, space the floor, and take turns carving up the lane with dribble drives and kick outs to players who can actually hit from distance. This version of the Rockets could potentially be a 3-seed in this year's Western Conference.

Who won the trade?

At the moment the Rockets. Not only did they remove at least one of their locker room distractions, but they also gain a first round pick. If Wall can stay healthy and Silas can keep both stars happy, this team should be a lot more fun to watch than last season's clunker.

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