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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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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