Astros take another from the Mariners

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 7-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With the Astros playing a marathon the day before with their bullpen responsible for 13 innings of work in the victory in the series opener, they looked for a more traditional win on Friday night. Here is a recap of game two of four for this weekend:

Final Score: Astros 7, Mariners 4.

Record: 92-50, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Joe Smith (1-0, 1.40 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Tommy Milone (3-9, 4.98 ERA).

1) Teams trade blows in the first while Valdez goes just four innings

It looked like Houston may be in for a repeat of the night before in the first inning. Framber Valdez struggled to find the zone, walking the bases loaded with one out before a two-RBI single put the Mariners out to a 2-0 lead. Valdez would recover and finish the inning; then, his offense went to work in the bottom half.

Jose Altuve led things off for the Astros by reaching on an infield single and advancing to second on an error. After a walk, Houston would get three-straight RBIs from Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, giving them a 3-2 advantage.

Valdez was able to get two clean innings in the second and third, but a leadoff single in the top of the fourth would turn into a tying run. With his pitch count rising, he would finish that inning but go no further in the game. His final line: 4 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 6 K, 0 HR.

2) Houston adds to their lead 

Houston regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out solo home run by Josh Reddick, his second in as many nights. Joe Biagini was first out of Houston's taxed bullpen and was able to retire Seattle in order in the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the inning, a one-out single by Alex Bregman turned into another run after he moved along to third on a hit batter and a groundout then took home while Aledmys Diaz was trapped in a rundown between first and second attempting to steal.

Biagini remained in the game for the top of the sixth; however, Seattle met him with a solo home run to start the inning and trim the lead back to one run. He would walk the next batter, resulting in another call to the bullpen to bring in Joe Smith who finished the inning. In the bottom half, Houston added two runs to their lead on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley and another on a passed ball, making it a 7-4 game.

3) Bullpen holds strong to seal the win

Hector Rondon was next out of Houston's bullpen and worked around a two-out hit batter to complete a scoreless inning in the seventh. Will Harris was next for the top of the eighth and he, too, would keep Seattle off the scoreboard.

Roberto Osuna finished things off in the ninth, notching another save and sealing up the victory for Houston. The win moved them to 92-50 on the year, tying them with the Yankees for the best record in the American League.

Up Next: Game three of this four-game set will be Saturday at 6:10 PM. Justin Verlander (17-5, 2.56 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston trying to replicate the success of his no-hitter from his last start, while Yusei Kikuchi (6-9, 5.36 ERA) will start for Seattle.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Texans vs. Vikings could have fans in attendance. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Houston Texans say it's time that fans were allowed to cheer on the home team at NRG Stadium. On Thursday, the team announced extensive safety protocols that would put 15,000 fans in the stands for the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 4.

While the Texans are awaiting permission from city and county officials to host a limited number of fans - socially distant and wearing masks – no plans have been announced how much tickets will cost, and who'll have the opportunity to buy them.

You have to love the free enterprise system: hundreds of tickets for the Oct. 4 game already are on sale on secondary market websites. Lower bowl tickets are going for $800 and up. If you don't mind sitting in the nose bleeds, tickets can be had for around $250.

So the question becomes, if you had the chance, would you attend the Texans game in early October? The tickets are big bucks, and there is a whammy – COVID-19. While the rate of COVID-19 infections is on the decline in Houston, the virus remains a major factor in our daily lives, and there's no guarantee that the pandemic won't spike here again.

Here's the rub, at least for me. Of all the sports we have in Houston, a Texans game might be lowest on my wish list of attending in person. Television does NFL games the best. There are dozens of cameras, so when a receiver catches a pass on the sidelines, we get several views, in slow motion even, to see if the receiver's feet were in bounds. We can almost feel the crunch of a quarterback sack. We get highlights of other games. You don't have to sit next to a face painter like David Puddy.

The NFL is a made-for-TV production. Which is, I suspect, part of the reason the Texans rarely open the roof at NRG Stadium. With the roof closed, the field becomes a controlled TV studio, with no worries of weather pranks.

Television doesn't do basketball or baseball nearly as well. Conversely, the experience of attending those games is terrific fun. What beats eating a couple of dogs at an Astros game? Is there even a traditional food at NFL or NBA games?

The Texans promise that strict safety rules will be enforced. And I believe them. Fans will be scattered over the 67,000-seat stadium. I'm not sure how much of a home field advantage that will be. Most of the crowd noise will come from pre-recorded tapes.

Here's one worry. Sure fans will sit apart and socially distanced. But what will happen when the game is over? Will fans file out in orderly, non-contagious single file? I flew Southwest a few weeks ago. The airline makes a big deal – we don't sell the middle seat. Passengers kept their distance during the flight. When the landed, you know how it is, everybody got up and piled into the aisle, shoulder to shoulder for several minutes.

What will happen if some goofball takes off his/her mask during the Texans game? Will there be enough security to handle each case?

Baseball is planning to have some fans attend post-season games at Minute Maid Park next month. UH Cougars, the Dynamo and Dash are playing in front of small crowds. It remains to be seen how safe – or how risky – allowing fans at sports events will be.

Will parents let their kids attend? Is waiting for a vaccine the smart play? If President Trump is right, that could be only a matter of weeks away. If scientists and doctors are right, nestle in for pandemic life another year. Even if scientists do come up with a vaccine, how many Americans will roll up their sleeve? Some believe, in the case of COVID-19, the cure may be worse than the disease. Not me, the moment Dr. Fauci says the vaccine is safe and effective, I'm sprinting to CVS.

The thinnest of silver linings, if ever there was a year worth sitting out, 2020 has been it for Houston sports fans. The Astros are scratching to stay above .500 (their present position), Jose Altuve hasn't had an extra base hit or RBI in almost a month, and Justin Verlander is throwing bullpens on his way to recovery. The Rockets are searching for a new coach, and possibly another team willing to take Russell Westbrook in a trade. The Texans season could go either way, we'll know if a few short weeks.

Why the rush to fill stadiums? The NBA is thriving in a bubble. Why not baseball and football? There's a fine line between safe and sorry.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo already has safety plans for next year, including masks and distancing. That will be interesting. Good luck controlling crowds pushing and shoving for corn dogs and funnel cakes.

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