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One of these things must happen to keep Astros championship window open beyond 2021

Here's the bottom line. Composite photo by Brandon Strange.

Houston sports have taken several big hits over the last year or so. The Rockets have traded James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Texans have released J.J. Watt, traded DeAndre Hopkins for pennies, and may be trading Deshaun Watson. The Astros lost George Springer on the heels of losing Gerrit Cole in free agency, as well as Justin Verlander to injury. We don't even need to bring into the conversation the front office and coaching changes that have taken place. Uggghhh!

When we look at the Rockets, they're not going to return to contender or playoff status any time soon. The roster and salary cap are in bad enough conditions to the point where they'll need a couple of seasons to rebuild. The Texans are in a similar situation. They may be able to rebuild faster if they do trade Watson instead of keeping him. The Rockets are trying to tank to get a top four pick in order to speed up their rebuild. The Texans are contemplating trading Watson in order to acquire top picks and talent to hasten a rebuild. That, or they're playing the long game to convince Watson they have a plan and that he should stay.

Enter the Astros. They're the 2017 World Series champions, unapologetically. No matter what the haters and doubters say, that can't be taken away. This team has lost several key pieces over the last few years, but their window is still wide open. While Verlander isn't available this season, Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy, and Lance McCullers Jr. are all capable of carrying the load. The bullpen has always been a concern, but this year, it may have been shored up.

Losing Springer will definitely hurt. However, bringing back Michael Brantley will help offset that some. Yordan Alvarez is back, so that's a welcomed sight. He adds a much-needed deep threat to the lineup. If Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw, or any of the other new regular contributors can add anything of significance, the lineup shouldn't lose very much potency. Combine that with the potential in the pitching staff, and I can see this team winning the AL West again and making some noise in the playoffs.

One of these moves must happen

While some could see their championship window as closed, I don't. If Carlos Correa can be re-signed soon, that'll go a long way to keeping said window open beyond this season. If Verlander chooses to re-up with the team following successful recovery from Tommy John surgery after this season, that'll add a veteran to a young pitching staff that can help the youngsters grow beyond 2021. If neither of these moves happen, the window is nearly closed.

Bottom line: this season could be the last season the window is open for the Astros. However, if the young guys they've brought in can step up, and they bring back some key pieces, that window can stay open a little longer.

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Houston gets back in the win column

Astros end six-game skid thanks to a gem by Greinke

Zack Greinke tossed a gem Saturday night. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the Mariners roared back Friday night to get a walk-off win over the Astros, dashing their hopes of ending their losing streak, Houston tried to even the series with a win on Saturday night with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke would do his part, throwing a terrific game, and the Astros would squeak out one run, which was enough to get back in the win column.

Final Score: Astros 1, Mariners 0

Astros' Record: 7-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Chris Flexen (1-1)

Plenty of hits, but only one run

Although the Astros were racking up hits against Chris Flexen, they had little to show for it. Eight different batters would notch ten hits against him, but the only time it amounted to a run was on a two-out RBI-single by Taylor Jones in the top of the fourth, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

Greinke spins a gem

Luckily for them, Zack Greinke was making it look like that would be enough. He cruised through the Mariners all night, allowing just four hits while giving up zero runs along with six strikeouts, one of which moved him past 2,700 on his career. He could have attempted to finish the complete-game shutout, but at 91 pitches after eight, Dusty Baker opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for the ninth. Greinke's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 91 P.

Houston finally ends their losing streak

With the high-leverage save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered to hold on to the one-run lead. He would do his job, finishing off the win for Greinke and putting an end to Houston's disappointing losing streak.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Sunday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will look to make a rebound from his disappointing first start with the Astros, while the Mariners will start Nick Margevicius (0-1, 7.04 ERA).

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