A doubleheader is on tap tomorrow

Astros rally to force extras but Angels take opener

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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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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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