Houston stays hot

Astros wallop A's again in home opener

Houston's bats kept mashing in the home opener. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After starting their year with six games on the road, the Astros returned home for their home opener on Thursday night, against the A's, who they had faced for the first four games of the season in Oakland. They hoped to have a similar outcome, with Houston sweeping the series to start 4-0 and dropping one of their AL West rivals to a tough 0-4. Indeed they would, giving the home fans at Minute Maid Park a lot to cheer about in another lopsided win.

Final Score: Astros 6, A's 2

Astros' Record: 6-1, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Cole Irvin (0-2)

Javier goes five shutout innings

Doing much better than his first start of the year, Cristian Javier managed to pitch himself into position for the win in his second. He was electric in the first three innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced, five on strikeouts. He went on to allow just three hits, giving his team five scoreless innings. Javier's final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 88 P.

Houston's high-power offense stays hot

Much like their high-scoring games against the A's last weekend, Houston kept plating runs against Oakland in this one. The first two runs came off the bat of Carlos Correa, one on a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second, the other a one-out RBI-double in the fourth.

They expanded their lead by three runs in the bottom of the sixth, with Yordan Alvarez getting his second homer of the year, a solo shot, then Myles Straw bringing in two more on a two-RBI single. Jose Altuve's first hit of the night was a loud one, a 426-foot solo homer to extend the lead to 6-0.

Astros get the lopsided win

After Javier's five innings, Ryne Stanek would take over and retire four batters in a row to get one out into the seventh. Blake Taylor finished that inning, then Enoli Paredes entered for the top of the eighth. Paredes would walk back-to-back batters before leaving mid-at-bat with an injury.

Joe Smith would make the quick entry, doing well to erase those two walks and keep the A's off the board to complete the top of the eighth. Brooks Raley had the ninth and finished off the win, despite allowing two runs to get Oakland on the board, to improve Houston to 6-1 on the year, sending Oakland to 1-7.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday. The Astros will send Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound for his second start, while Oakland will turn to Sean Manaea (0-1, 9.64 ERA), whom the Astros scored five runs on in the finale in Oakland.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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