Houston's bats stay hot

Astros thump Red Sox, Urquidy makes strong return from IL

Houston starts the series against Boston with a win. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After ending an overall disappointing weekend where they could have won all three games but instead only salvaged the win in the finale against the Padres, the Astros turned the page to a new opponent: the Red Sox. They picked up a four-game series with Boston Monday afternoon and started it with an explosive offensive performance, crushing them for the win.

Final Score: Astros 11, Red Sox 2

Astros' Record: 29-24, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (4-2)

Losing Pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez (5-4)

Houston grabs and builds on a lead

Much like they have done in recent games, the Astros' offense was able to grab and then build on an early lead. They plated two in the bottom of the second, one on a sac fly by Taylor Jones, then another scoring during an inning-ending double play. Jose Altuve doubled the lead in the next inning, taking advantage of a leadoff single by Martin Maldonado by hitting a two-run homer to make it 4-0.

They struck again in the bottom of the fifth, getting a single and two walks to load the bases for Kyle Tucker. He continued his hot month of May, bringing in two runs on a two-RBI single, extending Houston's advantage to 6-0. Once again, that lead was being held well by Houston's starter, with hopes for a good performance from the bullpen.

Urquidy makes a strong return from the IL

Meanwhile, in his return from the injured list, Jose Urquidy was making easy work of Boston's lineup. He allowed just one baserunner in the first four innings, a two-out walk in the top of the fourth, but would get the next batter out to erase it.
He allowed his first hit in the next inning, a two-out ground-rule double, but would strand that runner as well, keeping the Red Sox off the board.

Boston broke through in the top of the sixth, getting a run on two doubles to cut the lead to 6-1. Urquidy battled back, retiring the next two batters, both on strikeouts, bringing his total to nine on the day, and ending a quality start. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 87 P.

Astros get the lopsided win

The Astros put that run back on the board and more in the bottom of the sixth, as they loaded the bases with two outs. That set up a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman, making it a seven-run lead and opening the floodgates for two more hits, an RBI double by Carlos Correa and a two-RBI single by Tucker, making it 11-1. With Urquidy's day done, Enoli Paredes took over as Houston's first reliever of the game in the top of the seventh. He tossed an impressive frame, striking out the side to keep the lead at ten runs.

Nivaldo Rodriguez, who recently rejoined the team, made his second appearance in 2021 in the top of the eighth. Boston would get a run against him, a solo home run to make it 11-2. With the score still there in the top of the ninth, Rodriguez returned for another inning, closing out the win with a scoreless inning.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be a night start with first pitch at 7:10 PM Central. Luis Garcia (3-3, 2.93 ERA) is set to start the Astros, while the Red Sox will go with Garrett Richards (4-3, 3.83 ERA).

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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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