LANCE TALKS TURKEY

Astros fan favorite pitches in to help needy locals for Thanksgiving

Houston Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. handed out turkeys to local families. Photo by Nelson Venegas

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

On a crisp Saturday morning, Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. happily posed for photos, shook hands, and passed out free turkeys to needy locals at the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Greater Houston headquarters near downtown. In all, some 150 turkeys were delivered to families who otherwise would've missed out on a Thanksgiving main course.

"We're glad to hand these out to people who work hard — they deserve a stress-free holiday," McCullers told CultureMap at the event. "I consider myself a Houstonian. I've lived here for four years. My daughter is about to be born here. This city has embraced me and my family — everywhere we go, people couldn't be more gracious to us."

Hoping to give back ahead of Thanksgiving, McCullers approached Big Brothers Big Sisters about lining up families who otherwise might not afford the single biggest expense on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table: the turkey.

According to a 2018 study by the United States Department of Agriculture, 14.3 million Americans were food insecure throughout the year, a situation made all the more dire on a local level when the Houston Food Bank was forced to throw out nearly two million pounds of food worth $3 million, contaminated from an ammonia leak in one of its coolers. The turkeys were provided by ThrIVe Drip Spa.

For McCullers, the giveaway is all part of his belief in paying it forward, no matter how grand or modest the gesture. "People have a lot of things going on in their lives — work, family, stresses," he said. "You'd be surprised what a little can do. People really appreciate a little effort: hold the door for someone or just ask, 'Hey, how are you doing today,' smile at somebody — just give a little bit of grace."

Continue on CultureMap to read about McCuller's busy offseason.

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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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