Houston takes two of three from LA

Tucker's homer lifts Astros to series win over Angels

Kyle Tucker's fifth inning homer ended up being the difference in Sunday's series finale against the Angels. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, the Astros hoped to have an outing more like their performance in Friday's opener than Saturday's middle game. Although it would be as strong of an offensive performance as that, they would get enough runs and have solid pitching to win the series.

Final Score: Astros 3, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 83-59, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Quijada (0-1)

Houston strikes first, Angels tie it up against McCullers Jr.

After Lance McCullers Jr. would erase a leadoff single and walk for a scoreless top of the first, Houston would get the scoring started in the bottom half. A leadoff single by Jose Altuve would get him in position, after a one-out walk, to score later in the inning on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, putting them in front 1-0.

McCullers Jr. held that lead well through four innings, hitting a batter in the second, allowing a single in the fourth, but retiring the other batters he faced along the way over that span. Los Angeles tied the game up against him in the fifth, though, with a one-out solo homer, the only run he'd give up on the day, as he'd go on to finish six quality innings. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Tucker homers, bullpen holds down the lead to win the series

McCullers Jr. would end up getting the win, as before his last inning of work, his offense would give him a lead. Yuli Gurriel reached base on a one-out single, setting up Kyle Tucker in the next at-bat, who launched a 406-foot go-ahead homer to make it a 3-1 Houston lead. That gave their bullpen three innings to cover and hang on to the two-run advantage.

They'd do it well, using arguably their strongest trio of relievers, starting with Ryne Stanek in the top of the seventh, who sat down the Angels 1-2-3. Kendall Graveman had the eighth and was able to work around a leadoff walk and one-out single to maintain the lead. That presented Ryan Pressly with a save opportunity in the ninth. He would notch his 24th of the season to wrap up the win, giving Houston the series win and continuing to dwindle their magic number to win the division in 2021.

Up Next: With this homestand over, the Astros will take back to the road, traveling up to Arlington to take on the Rangers for the final four games of the year in a series starting Monday at 7:05 PM Central. The opener's pitching matchup sets up to be Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.28 ERA) for Houston and Spencer Howard (0-3, 6.21 ERA) for Texas.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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