THE PALLILOG

Astros look to put pressure back on Rays after huge walk-off win

The Astros can even the series with a win on Friday. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Any idea that more pressure now sits on the Rays than the Astros heading into Friday's game six of the American League Championship Series, is of course silly. Only the Astros face elimination in game six. But the pressure scale sure is a lot more balanced than it was a couple of days ago.

If the Astros square it up and force a game seven, the starting pitchers would combine for quite a different game seven memory than the two already etched in Houston's sports memory forever. Lance McCullers would start opposite Charlie Morton.

Only half the job is done toward pulling off turning an 0-3 series deficit into a 4-3 victory. It is amazing that winning even the two games after trailing three-zip is a massive achievement. In the 37 prior baseball bests of seven that started 3-0, only the 2004 Red Sox wound up winning four straight to take the series. The Astros join the '04 Sox and just two others among the 38 shoved into the 0-3 hole to even force a game six. The two others lost game six: the Braves to the Padres in 1998 and the following year the Mets to the Braves.

Fox is rooting like mad for the Astros to pull it off. Given the alternatives the far and away most desirable World Series matchup for drawing eyeballs is Astros-Dodgers for the storyline (and two larger markets) of a rematch of the cheaters vs. cheatees 2017 Fall Classic. The Braves are in a strong position (up three games to one) to deny the Dodgers the NL end of the World Series stick.

As Carlos Correa continues to add layers to his huge postseason moments cake, reminder that he hit all of five homers in the 60 game regular season. He's at six (and counting?) in 11 postseason games this year.

Daryl Morey and the Rockets part ways

Daryl Morey working out a buyout of his contract with Rockets' owner Tilman Fertitta is quite the interesting development. Morey's 13 season tenure as General Manager was very good, but never achieved greatness. The Warriors' dynasty was a burr in Morey's saddle, but zero NBA Finals appearances much less an NBA championship precludes any stamp of greatness on Morey's run. That is a far cry from failure. Among highlights on the Morey ledger: Zero losing seasons, seven seasons winning at least 53 games, two Western Conference Finals appearances. No other NBA team has made the playoffs each of the last eight seasons. However, over those eight seasons six different teams won it all while the Rockets never played for it all.

Promoted from within, Rafael Stone will work as GM at a much lower salary than his predecessor. That's not breaking Fertitta's heart. Stone gets the keys (if he really has them) at a challenging time for the franchise. In an either/or scenario the Rockets are more likely to miss the playoffs in the next season or two than they are to win an NBA title. Who knows how 31-year-old James Harden and soon to be 32 year old Russell Westbrook will mesh with the new Head Coach. The Rockets are on the hook with each for more than 44 million dollars per season over the next three seasons. And with Eric Gordon for over 18 million per thanks to the absurd extension Morey granted him. The Rockets have zero good young players, defining that here as anyone who'd be thought of as a possible top three player on a title contender. Bubble violator Danuel House is closest and at 27 he's not young. That is not exciting. Morey has dealt away multiple first round picks going forward. So while Morey did a fine job overall, some piece in the jigsaw puzzle of his life and professional decision is getting out before things could seriously deteriorate.

Texans clash with Titans this Sunday

Beating the Jaguars in the first game after the firing of Bill O'Brien was nice and fun for the Texans but not exactly a grand accomplishment. The Jaguars are terrible. They have 16 rookies on their roster, and played last week minus their best pass rusher, linebacker, and cornerback. Still, any port in a storm. It's this week the Texans can breathe a little actual hope into this season should they upset the Titans Sunday in Nashville. The 4-0 Titans are only three point favorites. Seems low, but the Titans have a quick turn around from routing the Bills on Tuesday night.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Yogi Berra once said "90 percent of baseball is half mental." See Jose Altuve throwing the ball right now.

2. Yogi could have said "momentum is all yours until you don't have it." See Astros-Rays.

3. Most dramatic in the moment Astros' game ending home runs: Bronze-Correa game two vs. Yankees 2019 Silver-Jeff Kent game five vs. Cardinals 2004 Gold-Jose Altuve pennant winner over Yankees 2019

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Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop series to Giants with finale loss

Houston's offense came up short again in San Francisco on Sunday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games against the Giants, the Astros tried to grab the finale to win his high-difficulty series. They came up short, though, with San Francisco once again one-upping them on offense against Luis Garcia, giving Houston back-to-back losses.

Final Score: Giants 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 64-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Logan Webb (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (7-6)

Gurriel strikes first, but Giants get the better of Garcia

The Astros were able to grab an early lead against Logan Webb in the top of the first, getting a runner on base to set up Yuli Gurriel for a two-run homer to start the scoring. Luis Garcia, who erased a walk in the first and a double in the second to maintain the 2-0 advantage, ran into trouble in the third. After two quick outs, Kris Bryant, recently acquired by the Giants at the trade deadline, changed the momentum with a solo homer in the first game for his new team.

They scored two more runs during the two-out rally on three hits and a walk, grabbing a 3-2 lead before Garcia would get the final out. He managed a scoreless fourth, but San Francisco got to him again in the fifth, chasing him out of the game with a two-out, two-run homer to extend their lead to 5-2. His final line in the loss: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 89 P.

Giants take series as Astros drop the finale

First out of Houston's bullpen was Rafael Montero, making his debut for his new team. He did well, getting the third out of the fifth then tossing a scoreless sixth. Phil Maton was next, coming in for the bottom of the seventh and erasing a single to keep it a three-run game. After wasting a chance with two runners on in the seventh, the Astros started a new rally in the top of the eighth, getting back-to-back hits to lead it off with runners on first and third with no outs.

They would get just one run from it, though, making it 5-3, which would go final after a scoreless bottom of the eighth by Ryne Stanek and a 1-2-3 inning at the plate by Houston in the top of the ninth. That gave the Giants the series and left the Astros reeling from back-to-back losses as they turn the page to another high-caliber opponent to finish this road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel to the last leg of this road trip, Los Angeles, before a day off on Monday. Tuesday, they'll pick up a quick two-game series with the Dodgers, with Lance McCullers Jr. (8-2, 3.23 ERA) for the Astros going up against Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19 ERA) for LA in the opener at 9:10 PM Central.

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