Houston splits the mini-series with LA

Astros drop finale to Dodgers in quiet night at the plate

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the exciting comeback win in the opener of this two-game set, the Astros were back on primetime TV Sunday night facing the Dodgers in LA to try and complete the mini-sweep. Here's how the game unfolded:

Final Score: Dodgers 8, Astros 1.

Record: 23-24, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Victor Gonzalez (3-0, 1.13 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA).

Dodgers get to Greinke in the fifth

Much like in Saturday's game, the Dodgers would build up a lead in the early parts of the game on Sunday. They were first to score in the bottom of the first, getting a two-out solo home run by AJ Pollock against Zack Greinke to go up 1-0.

The game stayed there until the bottom of the fifth, when the Dodgers would put together a hit parade against Greinke, scoring four runs in the inning on five hits, including a two-run homer by Mookie Betts, extending their lead to 5-0. Greinke would finish that inning but go no further as Houston moved to their bullpen in the sixth. His final line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 65 P.

Astros fall back below .500 with the loss

George Springer would get Houston on the board in the top of the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo homer to make it 5-1. With Greinke's day done, Cristian Javier made an appearance in relief. He would toss two scoreless innings, looking sharp as he would allow just one hit while getting five of his six outs via strikeouts.

Brooks Raley would follow Javier to pitch in the eighth, but after allowing back-to-back one-out hits, would get just two outs into the frame before Dusty Baker would make another pitching change. Instead of ending the inning cleanly, Cy Sneed allowed a three-run home run to extend the Dodgers' lead to 8-1 before ending the frame. That score would go final as the Astros would split the mini-series with Los Angeles and fall back below .500 on the year.

Up Next: With this road trip in the books, the Astros will get their last scheduled day off for the regular season on Monday. They'll begin their final homestand on Tuesday, starting a three-game set with the Rangers at 7:10 PM Central. Jose Urquidy (0-1, 3.72 ERA) will make a start for Houston, while Kyle Cody (0-1, 0.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Texas.

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The Rockets are collecting a lot of young talent. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Good parents are protective of their kids. Some helicopter parents are a little too protective and take it too far. Kenyon Martin Sr came out and wanted his son traded to a contender where he can flourish in a winning environment. He felt as if Jr wouldn’t be able to flourish as much as he thinks his son can in Houston. With the arrival of the number three overall pick, most likely being a frontcourt guy, they must’ve thought his playing time would decrease. Less time means less development means less money you can ask for on the next contract. I get it. I’m a parent. I understand. But there’s a point in which you have to be realistic.

Things like this are actually a good problem to have. It speaks to the Rockets having an abundance of talent, young talent at that. Whenever a team has a bevy of young talent in the NBA, they’ve been losing a lot and have stockpiled high draft picks. That, or they’ve developed a bunch of young guys that are now getting playing time and are on the verge of perhaps breaking out. Teams love it because crafting and shaping their future is easier when there’s a ton of options. They can choose to play and develop the guys they want to keep and trade the ones they don’t…provided they have any value.

Sr may think Jr is a future All NBA guy, and maybe he is, but he hasn’t been able to beat out Jae’Sean Tate for playing time in that tweener 3-4 combo position. One of the main things people point out is his ball handling. If he can’t handle the ball and make plays, he can’t play effectively enough in this system at that position. While he’s been able to give them valuable minutes, he’ll have to continue to improve and fight for those minutes. With the possibility of yet another player at that position with lofty draft status and expectations coming in (not to mention a unique skillset), the writing was on the wall.

When Sr came out recently and stated Jr is committed to staying here and getting better and Jr reiterated that at media availability this week, it helped quiet down the rumors. Would I be surprised if he’s traded? Not at all. He’s a good young athletic player who’s improved his shot. He could be a valuable rotation player for any team that has him. Do I want him to stay? Of course! I’d love nothing more than this team to grow together and stay together.

That’s in a perfect world and that’s somewhere we don’t live. Acquiring this much talent has paid off in the recent past. I wrote last week that this team can do what the Warriors and Celtics did if they continue to draft well, develop their talent, and surround their core with the right kind of role players. If playing time and meeting their potential for too many players becomes a problem (cap-wise, playing time, or any other reasons), they can always make deals and turn that talent into more draft picks. OKC did it with James Harden and flipped assets into about 3 million draft picks over the years. Blueprints are out there for the team to follow. Let’s keep hoping Rafael Stone can push the right buttons at the right times and continue to build this team back into a contender.

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