Houston comes a game short of the sweep

Astros drop finale to Rays with Yankees on deck

Yordan Alvarez's good day at the plate wasn't enough for Houston against the Rays on Sunday. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Already having the series locked up by taking the first two games, the Astros entered the finale against the Rays on Sunday looking for the three-game sweep. The Rays would avoid it, getting some timely runs late to hand Houston the loss.

Final Score: Rays 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 15-13, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jeffrey Springs (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brooks Raley (0-1)

Houston scores first, again

After three scoreless innings, with the Rays wasting a prime opportunity to score first in the bottom of the second, Houston would get on the board first with a Yordan Alvarez 424-foot solo home run in the top of the fourth. They would get runners on second and third with no outs in the top of the fifth, bringing both of them home on a sac fly by Jose Altuve and RBI single by Michael Brantley, extending the lead to 3-0.

Tampa Bay responds as teams trade runs

It looked like Cristian Javier would follow the same game plan as the last two starters in this series; take advantage of a lead by going deep into the game without allowing any runs. After four scoreless, Javier would put himself into trouble in the bottom of the fifth, issuing a walk and hitting a batter, putting two on base to set up a three-run game-tying homer. He would finish that inning before the Astros moved to their bullpen the rest of the way. Javier's final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 81 P.

Houston regained the lead in the top of the sixth, with Yordan Alvarez leading the inning off with a double, then scoring on an RBI single by Myles Straw. Tampa Bay answered back immediately in the home half of the same inning against Byan Abreu, with a one-out double eventually turning into a run after a wild pitch and error.

Rays jump in front late and avoid the sweep

Still tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Brooks Raley took over on the mound but would only manage one out against his three batters, leaving a runner on first and third for Ryne Stanek. Stanek couldn't erase the inherited runners, giving up an RBI single to put Tampa Bay back in front 5-4 before the inning was over.

After the Astros went down in order in the top of the eighth, Kent Emanuel took over out of the bullpen to try and keep it a one-run game. He did his job, getting a 1-2-3 frame with two strikeouts, but the Astros would not mount a rally in the top of the ninth, ending this series with a loss.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow as they travel to New York in advance of a highly-anticipated three-game series with the Yankees. The opener will get started at 6:05 PM Central on Tuesday, with Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.44 ERA) on the mound for Houston and Domingo German (2-2, 4.05 ERA) for New York.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome