Houston evens the series

Astros back up Greinke's impressive start to even series with A's

Greinke tossed another impressive game Wednesday. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After watching Oakland get the walk-off win in the opener, Houston entered Wednesday's middle game needing a win to force a rubber game to decide the series and who would leave it on top of the division. The offense and Zack Greinke would get it done, with the Astros putting together a late barrage of runs to back up their starter, who tossed another gem.

Final Score: Astros 8, A's 1

Astros' Record: 25-18, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Frankie Montas (5-3)

Trading early runs

Once again, just like the night before, the Astros would get two runs in the top of the first before Oakland could get to the plate. The first run came on the very first pitch, as Jose Altuve would turn a slider around 396 feet over the left-field wall. They would get a runner in scoring position with two outs, setting up an RBI single by Carlos Correa to double the first-inning lead. Oakland responded with a run in the bottom of the second, a two-out RBI double against Zack Grienke, making it a 2-1 game.

Houston blows it open late

That score stayed put all the way into the seventh inning, where the Astros would add to their lead with a two-out rally. Alex Bregman started it with a walk, then moved to second on a Yordan Alvarez single. Both would then score on a deep two-run double by Yuli Gurriel.

He would come around to score in the next at-bat, an RBI single by Carlos Correa to make it a four-run game at 5-1. Houston kept scoring against Oakland's bullpen in the next inning, as an RBI single by Michael Brantley and two-RBI double, bringing him to four on the night, made it an 8-1 Houston advantage.

Greinke goes eight innings, Astros get the win

While Greinke was undoubtedly grateful for the insurance, he was doing just fine without it, holding his own against the A's. His run allowed in the second would be his one and only, rebounding and finding a rhythm to finish eight frames for the second time this season. His final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 89 P.

That left just one inning to cover for Houston's bullpen, a task given to Kent Emanuel. He would finish things off, moving the Astros back to a half-game behind Oakland in the division, setting up a critical rubber game on Thursday.

Up Next: Thursday's series finale will be an afternoon start, with the game getting underway at 2:37 PM Central. Luis Garcia (1-3, 3.34 ERA) for Houston will go up against Cole Irvin (3-4, 3.02 ERA) for Oakland.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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