Houston's bats power up again

Astros pound Rangers to win fourth straight game

Kyle Tucker's hot streak continued Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After taking the first game of this series in wild fashion in extras the night prior, the Astros tried to get their fourth straight win on Friday night at home against the Rangers. They would get a nice start from Zack Greinke, but Houston's offense was the star of the show again, powering past Texas.

Final Score: Astros 10, Rangers 4

Astros' Record: 22-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-1)

Losing Pitcher: Wes Benjamin (0-2)

Houston puts up double digits

The Astros were able to jump out to a large lead Friday night and never looked back. It started with a three-run second, with RBI singles by Kyle Tucker and Myles Straw and a sac fly by Michael Brantley. Tucker started the scoring in another multi-run inning in the bottom of the third, getting his second RBI single in as many innings, leaving the bases loaded.

Straw followed with an RBI walk, as did Martin Maldonado next, before a fourth run in the frame would score on a double play, putting Houston at seven runs. After a scoreless fourth, Straw would get another RBI in the bottom of the fifth on a single, then Maldonado made it double digits with a two-run homer.

Greinke rebounds from recent struggles

After three straight disappointing starts where he lasted just four innings while allowing multiple runs, Zack Greinke would get back on track in this start. He allowed a run in the top of the third, another in the top of the fourth, then a final one in the top of the seventh, but would otherwise navigate his way to a quality start and his third win of the season by lasting seven innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 103 P.

Astros extend winning streak to four games

Kent Emanuel was first out of the Houston bullpen, taking over for Greinke in the top of the eighth. He allowed a two-out solo home run to make it a 10-4 game, retiring the other three batters he faced. Joe Smith entered to finish things off in the ninth, extending Houston's winning streak to four games.

Up Next: The third of this four-game set will be an hour earlier on Saturday, starting at 6:10 PM Central. Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.60 ERA) will try to get his first win of the season and help Houston win this series, while Dane Dunning (2-2, 3.78 ERA) will go 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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