Houston is one step closer to the ultimate comeback

Astros stay hot, force winner-take-all Game 7 by winning ALCS Game 6

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Not going down without a fight, the once 0-3 record for the Astros in the ALCS improved to 2-3 after a big walk-off home run by Carlos Correa to end Game 5 and force Game 6. One more win and they'd force a decisive Game 7, where they could join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only two teams to erase a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

They would do just that, with their offense coming alive in the middle innings to take over the game to back up another impressive start by Framber Valdez. It sets up a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday. Here's how Game 6 unfolded:

Final Score: Astros 7, Rays 4.

Series: tied 3-3.

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez.

Losing Pitcher: Blake Snell.

Rays score first, Astros answer back with four in the fifth

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, it was Tampa Bay who started the scoring in the bottom of the second. Despite Valdez starting hot and striking out three of the first four batters, he allowed a one-out single that would come around and score on a two-out RBI-double to put the Rays up 1-0.

That score held until the top of the fifth, when a leadoff walk by Yuli Gurriel followed by a single by Aledmyz Diaz would spell the end for Blake Snell, whose manager would take him out to try and get his trusted bullpen into the game. Instead, Houston would move the runners on a sac bunt by Martin Maldonado then bring both in to take a 2-1 lead on a two-RBI single by George Springer. That opened the floodgates, with Jose Altuve driving in another on the next pitch, an RBI-double to the left-field wall, followed later by an RBI-single by Carlos Correa, making it a four-run inning and a 4-1 Astros lead.

Valdez impresses again and leaves in line for the win

Kyle Tucker would make it a four-run lead in the top of the sixth, leading the inning off with a solo home run to make it 5-1. Framber Valdez continued his impressive night in the bottom of the inning, getting his fifth scoreless inning and wrapping up a one-run gem, leaving in line for the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 101 P.

Houston's offense kept rolling into the top of the seventh, when Jose Altuve would start it off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, then scored on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley. Tucker would later bring in his second run in as many innings, getting a sac fly to make it a six-run game at 7-1.

Houston forces Game 7

With Valdez's night done, Andre Scrubb would come in for the top of the seventh with the big lead. He was met with a solo homer by Manuel Margot to cut it to 7-2, then was only able to get two outs while putting two more on base before Dusty Baker would bring in Blake Taylor to finish the inning. Despite loading the bases on three straight walks to start the top of the eighth, the Astros would follow it with three strikeouts in a row to stand all three runners, keeping it a 7-2 game.

Cristian Javier would take over on the mound in the bottom of the inning, but after two strikeouts, he would issue a two-out walk to set up another home run to Margot, his second in as many innings, to trim the lead to 7-4. After a scoreless top of the ninth, the Astros would be forced to use closer Ryan Pressly in the three-run situation, his third appearance in as many days. He would come through with the save, finishing off the win as Houston evened the series to move one step closer to one of the ultimate comebacks in the sports world.

Up Next: It all comes down to this. The end of the road for one of these two teams comes after ALCS Game 7, which will start on Saturday at 7:37 PM Central, though that time could change if the Braves finish the NLCS Friday night. Though not announced, the expected pitching matchup mirrors Game 2, which was Lance McCullers Jr. for Houston and Charlie Morton for the Rays.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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