Houston's magic number stays at 1 after loss to the Angels

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 8-4 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their sixth straight win to start the series on Friday night to lower their magic number to one, the Astros had the power in their hands to clinch the AL West division with another victory on Saturday night at home against the Angels. Here is a recap of the middle game of the weekend series:

Final Score: Angels 8, Astros 4.

Record: 101-54, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Luke Bard (3-2, 4.50 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Wade Miley (14-6, 3.91 ERA).

1) Miley may have sealed his fate in another disappointing start

When it looked like Wade Miley had finally turned the corner from two horrible starts by going six innings and allowing just two runs in his last start, that one step forward was erased with two steps back. He could not piece together good enough pitches to keep the Angles off the bases, allowing a solo home run to lead off the game en route to an inning with three runs on three hits and a walk.

After hitting the leadoff batter in the top of the second then putting runners on first and third with no outs on a single, Miley would have the ball taken from him as A.J. Hinch would end his night and move on to let his bullpen try to keep them in the game. Miley's disappointing final line: 1.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR.

2) Houston's offense fights back as bullpen takes over

Jose Urquidy was the first reliever to come out of the bullpen, and he would finish the second inning for Wade Miley despite allowing an RBI-single to extend the lead to 4-0. Houston's bats went to work in the bottom half of that inning, starting with a leadoff solo home run by Yordan Alvarez before RBIs by Kyle Tucker and Martin Maldonado cut the lead to one run at 4-3.

Urquidy remained on the mound for a scoreless third inning and came back for the fourth inning as well, though would allow a two-out RBI-double to extend Los Angeles' lead to 5-3. Bryan Abreu was next to try and eat up some innings, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 fifth by striking out the side. In the sixth, Abreu would create trouble for himself by allowing a leadoff walk that would score on an RBI-single later in the inning, making it a 6-3 Angels lead.

3) Unable to clinch on the field

Chris Devenski was on the mound for the top of the seventh, and it was a quick one as he would retire the side on just twelve pitches. In the bottom of the inning, Kyle Tucker led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, then score on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitting Abraham Toro to cut the lead to two runs.

Joe Smith pitched the eighth, a seven-pitch 1-2-3 frame to keep it a two-run game. Hector Rondon would come in for the ninth but would watch a two-run home run by Los Angeles sail into the stands to extend the Angels' lead to 8-4 and get just two outs before Joe Biagini would get the final out of the inning. Houston would not overcome that deficit in the bottom of the night, keeping their magic number at 1.

Up Next: Houston and Los Angeles will conclude this series with the final regular-season game at Minute Maid Park this season on Sunday at 1:10 PM. The Angels are expected to start with a relief pitcher in Jose Rodriguez (0-0, 1.84 ERA) while the Astros will have Justin Verlander (19-6, 2.50 ERA) making his next-to-last regular-season start looking for win number 20 on the season.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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