Houston wins in extras

Astros get a wild win in the eleventh over Rangers

The Astros took the first of four against the Rangers Thursday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Having come away winners of five of their last six series, including a win on Wednesday against the Angels to secure the most recent one, the Astros welcomed in the Rangers for the first time in 2021 to start a four-game set to cap off this ten-game homestand. After trading runs early, the teams would stay tied late into the game, ultimately forcing extras where the Astros would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 3

Astros' Record: 21-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (1-2)

Losing Pitcher: Brett Martin (0-1)

Teams gridlock early

Cristian Javier was immediately put into a hole to dig out of on Thursday night, with Willie Calhoun turning the first pitch of the game around for a solo homer to give Texas an immediate 1-0 lead. After retiring the next three batters in order to end the first, Javier struggled heavily to find the strike zone in the second, loading the bases with no outs on two walks and a single. He would get out of it with just one run allowed, giving up a sac fly to make it a 2-0 game.

Houston would answer by loading the bases as well in the bottom of the second, setting up a bases-clearing three-RBI double by Jose Altuve to give Houston a 3-2 lead. The Rangers got one of the runs back to tie the game in the top of the third on an RBI groundout, tying the game 3-3 where it would stay for a while. After the early runs, Javier would rebound to finish seven innings, leaving with the game still tied. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 99 P.

The game heads to extras

Ryne Stanek took over for Javier in the top of the eighth. He didn't have his best command yet could still erase two walks for a scoreless inning to keep things tied 3-3. After stranding another runner in the bottom of the eighth, their tenth of the night to that point, Houston would send in closer Ryan Pressly in the top of the ninth. He would take care of the Rangers 1-2-3, setting up the Astros for a potential walk-off in the bottom half. They wouldn't make it happen in regular innings and instead headed to extras, with Texas starting with the first free runner on second in the top of the tenth.

Astros get the wild win in the eleventh

Bryan Abreu would allow the runner to move to third with a wild pitch to start things off, then walked his first batter. The defense behind him would bail him out in a big way, with a double play to keep the runner at third before Abreu would get a strikeout to maintain the 3-3 tie. In the bottom of the tenth, Carlos Correa moved the free runner to third with a groundout for the first out; then the Rangers issued intentional walks to Kyle Tucker and Aledmys Diaz to load the bases to face Myles Straw. Straw would lift a ball to right field for a potential sac fly, but not far enough past Joey Gallo's arm, who threw a dart to home to extend the game another inning.

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the eleventh and worked around a leadoff walk by retiring the next three batters, two on strikeouts, to give Houston yet another chance to finish things off. Jason Castro moved Myles Straw to third with a sacrifice bunt to start the inning, then with two outs, and after receiving two more intentional walks, Straw would race home on a wild pitch to win the game, 4-3.

Up Next: Game two will be Friday at 7:10 PM Central and features Zack Greinke (2-1, 4.23 ERA) for the Astros going up against Wes Benjamin (0-1, 4.76 ERA) for the Rangers.

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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.

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