Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
With the shutout win on Saturday night, Houston had the chance to end the first half of the regular season with a series victory against the Angels if they could take the rubber game on Sunday afternoon. Here is a quick recap of the game:
Final Score (10 innings): Astros 11, Angels 10.
Record: 57-33, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Ryan Pressly (2-1, 1.36 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Taylor Cole (0-1, 4.58 ERA).
1) Angels capitalize on Houston's rough start on the mound
Jose Urquidy's second start did not fare any better than his first as things fell apart quickly for him. He had done well in the first two innings, giving up just one hit while striking out four, but let the game get away from him in the top of the third.
The terrible third inning included a run scoring on a wild pitch and a two-run home run as the Angels would tag him for five runs on seven hits while Urquidy could only record one out. His final line: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Chris Devenski was able to clean up the third inning, but he too would struggle when he returned for the fourth inning and gave up a run of his own on a sacrifice fly after putting runners on the corners with no outs to start the inning. Josh James met a similar fate in the fifth inning, giving up a leadoff single that would score on a two-out RBI-triple which gave the Angels a five-run lead at 7-2.
2) Astros roar all the way back
Tony Kemp started the day off strong for Houston's offense, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to put the Astros ahead 2-0 early. They would go quiet for a few innings after that, eventually finding themselves down 7-2 in the fifth inning.
They went to work to chip away at the lead, starting with RBIs from Yordan Alvarez and Tyler White in the bottom of the fifth to trim the deficit to 7-4. After the Angels got one of the runs back in the top of the sixth to make it a four-run lead again, Houston went right back to work in the bottom half of the inning.
They loaded the bases with no outs on a leadoff double by Jose Altuve, walk by Alex Bregman, and a single by Michael Brantley. That brought up the red-hot Yuli Gurriel, who made it five straight games with a home run, his sixth in over that span, this time a game-tying grand slam to make it 8-8.
3) Neither team can win it in nine
Although Collin McHugh allowed a solo homer to Mike Trout in the top of the sixth, he was otherwise excellent in relief, getting through two innings in a game Houston sorely needed someone to provide some extended coverage out of the bullpen. Will Harris took over on the mound in the eighth, but he would watch Mike Trout deposit one of his pitches well over the center field wall on a two-run home run to put the Angels back ahead 10-8.
Houston responded right away in the bottom of the ninth, getting two singles to start the inning before a two-RBI single from Yordan Alvarez tied the game at 10-10. They would follow that up by loading the bases with no outs, but would come out empty handed after a lineout then a fly out for out number two where Jake Marisnick tried tagging home, but would end up in a terrible collision with Jonathan Lucroy as both players ended up traveling to the same side of the baseline. It was initially a run but was overturned after a review, leaving the game tied going to the ninth.
Roberto Osuna was brought in for the top of the ninth and worked around a couple of walks to keep the game tied going to the bottom of the inning. Houston would load the bases with two outs but came away empty to send the game to extra innings.
4) Houston wins it in the tenth
Ryan Pressly took over on the mound in the top of the tenth and was able to get through the heart of the Angels order by working around a two-out single. That set up the walk-off in the bottom of the inning, starting with a leadoff double by Josh Reddick who would score on an RBI by George Springer to win the game and the series.
Up Next: The Astros as an entire team will have a few days off for the All-Star Break. Alex Bregman, however, will be in action tomorrow night in the home run derby at 7 PM on ESPN. He will join George Springer and Michael Brantley as starters in the 2019 MLB All-Star game on Tuesday at 6:30 PM, with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Ryan Pressly on the roster as well.
The regular season will resume on Thursday night as the Astros head to Arlington to take on the Rangers at 7 PM. The teams have not yet decided on starters, but the Rangers are expected to send Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.91 ERA) to the mound while the Astros will have a few days to figure out who starts for them.
The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.