Houston's relievers can't get it done

Houston's bullpen falters again, Rangers secure series win

Houston's bullpen faltered once again on Saturday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a tough loss in Friday's opener where a comeback to force extras was wasted, Houston returned to Globe Life Field on Saturday to try and even the series. Although they would lead early, their bullpen would once again be the cause of some of the issues that resulted in another loss, giving the Rangers a secured series win with a potential sweep in the cards for Sunday's finale.

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 26-20, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Kolby Allard (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Andre Scrubb (1-1)

McCullers battles through five innings while teams trade runs

Both Houston and Texas put together lengthy innings at the plate in the first. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate in the top half, starting with Jose Altuve extending his hitting streak to sixteen games to start things off. They went on to load the bases with no outs, getting an RBI fielder's choice grounder by Yordan Alvarez and a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers worked back-to-back walks to start Lance McCullers Jr.'s day.

He went on to strike out four batters in the frame, one reaching on a wild pitch, and before things moved to the second, he had already used 40 pitches. Chas McCormick extended the lead by one more run, hitting a leadoff solo homer to start the second inning, making it 3-0. McCullers Jr. dealt with more traffic in the following innings, erasing a single and walk in the second, then allowing a two-RBI double in the third, making it a one-run game. His offense got one of those back in the top of the fourth, as an RBI groundout would make it 4-2. He finished two more innings, allowing a solo homer in his fifth and final inning, leaving with a 4-3 lead. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 105 P.

Houston's bullpen blows another one

Brandon Bielak came out of the bullpen for the bottom of the sixth, getting two outs before hitting a batter and prompting Dusty Baker to move on to Andre Scrubb to finish the inning. Scrubb remained in the game in the bottom of the seventh, greeted by another homer by Adolis Garcia, a solo shot to tie the game 4-4. Scrubb would get one more out before Enoli Paredes would come in to try and keep it a tie game.

Instead, he would load the bases with a walk and an error, then giving up a two-RBI double to give the Rangers their first lead of the day at 6-4 and continuing Houston's bullpen woes. They would score two more on some defensive miscues on the final play of the inning, extending the new advantage to 8-4. That score would go final as Houston would go scoreless the rest of the way. The loss gives the Rangers a chance for the three-game sweep on Sunday, potentially returning the favor for Houston's recent four-game sweep.

Up Next: The finale of this series will start at 1:35 PM Central on Sunday, featuring a pitching matchup of Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.27 ERA) for the Astros and Mike Foltynewicz (1-4, 5.18 ERA) for the Rangers.

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It's Draft SZN! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

On Thursday June 22, the NBA will hold their annual draft. With the Rockets owning the number four overall pick, you'd think things would be looking up for them. However, in a draft where the top three players are all expected to be immediate impact guys, the drop begins where the Rockets are selecting. Armed with some young talent, cap space, and a new head coach, the Rockets are looked at as a team on the rise. But what will help contribute to that rise?

When you have assets, you have options. There are three main options I see here for the Rockets with number four: keep the pick and select the guy you think will work best moving forward; trade up to select the guy they feel they missed out on that isn't a punk Frenchie who dislikes Houston; or trade the pick for an established star. The other option is trading the pick for a good player and a future pick/s. Let's take a look at the options:

Option 1: Keeping the pick means you're drafting the leftovers. Those leftovers start with Amen Thompson. He's the guy I believe can come in and help sooner rather than later. At 6'7 and 215 pounds, he has an NBA body. His skill set can come in handy because he's played point guard. This team could use a true point guard, but Thompson isn't exactly a traditional point. He has the size of a wing player, which allows him to see over the top of the defense. His outside shooting is abysmal and needs a vast improvement. To me, adjusting to life as a pro without his twin brother Ausar, another good draft prospect himself, will be difficult. Overall, I believe he's the guy to take at four if they decide to stay.

Option 2: Trading up to get Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller may prove to be difficult. Both teams picking ahead of the Rockets have their point guards. Charlotte wants to find Lamelo Ball a running mate and have their eyes rumored to be set on Miller. Portland is trying their best to keep Dame Lillard happy. The Rockets would be best served to trade with either team willing to move down for whatever they offer, provided it's worthwhile. Portland was just in the playoffs the last few years and aren't as far out as some would think. They're the ones I'd eye to trade with. Speaking of Portland and Dame…

Option 3: The Rockets need a point guard and Dame may be looking to get out. Help them start their rebuild and bring Dame to Houston. Or, how about the Jaylen Brown rumors? Fred VanVleet has a player option for next season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent. There are a few options of finding veteran help around the league, especially at the point. Problem is, are any of these team willing to take the Rockets' offers? It'd start with number four, and include other assets as well. This option makes sense if the organization believes the roster, with whatever vet addition they make via trade, is playoff ready.

Option 4: The last option I thought about is to trade the pick for a first rounder in next year's draft and a decent player. I see this as a last resort of sorts. But only if they do not feel comfortable with whatever player they may take. That, and if they want to save cap space for next free agency period. Not having a first rounder next year isn't as bad as one might think. The team will need to make the necessary moves this offseason to ensure that won't be an issue next draft. FOMO is real, especially when a team is rebuilding and can't use one of the best/cheapest forms of acquiring top talent.

I talked with my good friend “TC.” The guy loves basketball and even hips me to a bunch of stuff. He wants them to move up in the draft for Scoot or Miller. While he is a James Harden fan, he doesn't necessarily want him back. He wouldn't mind it, but it's not his first option. I've spoken with a lot of native Houstonians about this. They all want a winner sooner than later, but have different philosophies on how to get there. Personally, I say options two and three are my faves. Trade the pick for help, rookie or vet, and go from there. I guess we'll have to wait three more weeks before we find out. Or will we…

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