A doubleheader is on tap tomorrow

Astros rally to force extras but Angels take opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

After ending their homestand with a series win against the Rangers, the Astros set out on the road, starting with a four-game set against the Angels over three days. Here is a rundown of the series opener from Friday night:

Final Score (11 innings): Angels 6, Astros 5.

Record: 21-16, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Matt Andriese (2-2, 5.64 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brooks Raley (0-1, 6.23 ERA).

McCullers Jr. exits without recording an out

After starting the game off with back-to-back singles, things quickly spiraled downhill and out of control for the Astros. After stranding both runners in the top half, Lance McCullers went to the mound in the bottom of the first.

He would leave before recording an out, giving up a two-run home run to Mike Trout, then walking the bases loaded. He called the trainer out at one point in the inning, but it is unclear if his struggles were injury-related or not.

Astros chip away at the lead

That set up an opportunity for Luis Garcia's major-league debut. He was able to turn the loaded bases into just one run, allowing a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 Angels before getting two strikeouts to end the threat. Garcia would continue eating up innings, allowing a solo home run in the bottom of the third to extend the Angels' lead to 4-0, but still pitched into the fifth inning in an impressive, albeit impromptu, debut.

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth, putting two on base before an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker and RBI-double by Carlos Correa to make it 4-2. Cionel Perez finished the fifth for Garcia but then allowed a run in the sixth to make it a three-run game at 5-2.

Houston forces extras but can't bring in another run

After Perez, Andre Scrubb would be the third arm out of the bullpen, and he was able to finish the sixth then throw the seventh and eighth. The Astros put together a rally in the ninth, getting runners on second and third with no outs. They would both score, one on a wild pitch then another on an RBI-groundout by Josh Reddick.

Michael Brantley reached on a two-out single and was pinch-run for by Myles Straw. Straw stole second, getting himself in position for a tying RBI-double by Kyle Tucker, making it 5-5. Tucker would be left on second base, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with Ryan Pressly on the mound to force extras. Pressly would do so, working around a walk to send things along to the tenth.

In the top of the tenth, the Astros were unable to advance Carlos Correa, the free runner on second base. Brooks Raley entered to try and force another inning, and despite the Angles moving their runner over with a leadoff bunt, would get the final two outs without giving up the run, extending the game another inning.

Garrett Stubbs pinch-ran for Martin Maldonado as the runner on second in the top of the eleventh, but he too would stay put as Houston again went down in order. The Angels would finally end the game in the bottom of the eleventh, getting a walk-off RBI-single by Shohei Ohtani to win 6-5.

Up Next: Two of the four-game series will occur on Saturday, with a doubleheader starting at 6:07 PM Central. The first game will feature Brandon Bielak (3-2, 5.40 ERA) on the mound for the Astros and Griffin Canning (0-3, 4.04 ERA) for the Angels. The second game will start 30-45 minutes later with Jose Urquidy making his first start of 2020 while Los Angeles' starter is TBD.

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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