Houston will have home-field advantage in the ALDS

Astros lock up second seed in AL with win over Oakland

Astros' Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker
Houston's offense put up double-digits on Saturday to lock up home-field advantage for the ALDS. Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Houston's offense put up double-digits on Saturday to lock up home-field advantage for the ALDS.

With a loss on Friday in the series opener to postpone it another day, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against Oakland hoping to tie one more loose end on the regular season: clinching the number two seed in the American League. With a great night at the plate by their bats, they'd get the victory to ensure that the White Sox would have to travel to Houston for ALDS Game 1.

Final Score: Astros 10, A's 4

Astros' Record: 94-67, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Phil Maton (6-0)

Losing Pitcher: Paul Blackburn (1-4)

Oakland strikes first, Houston responds in a big way

Jake Odorizzi looked as though he might be in for a rough night after his top of the first inning turned awry. The A's started things off with a single; then, after a rough play by Yordan Alvarez in left field, a potential became an RBI triple to start Oakland's night ahead 1-0 after two batters. They went on to double the lead two batters later, getting an RBI double before Odorizzi could get through the frame.

Luckily for him, Houston's offense started just as hot, responding in the bottom of the first with a single and a walk to set up Yordan Alvarez's 33rd home run of the season, a go-ahead shot to make it 3-2. Jason Castro made it back-to-back games with a homer in the next inning, sneaking a solo blast over the Crawford Boxes wall to give Houston the two-run advantage. They didn't stop there, loading the bases with three-straight singles before an RBI groundout by Alex Bregman pushed the lead to 5-2.

Houston goes to the bullpen in the fifth

In command of the lead for the 2021 AL batting title, Yuli Gurriel drilled a ball to left-center to lead off the bottom of the third, and though initially ruled a double, would go to review and end up being a solo homer to make it a four-run game. The score remained 6-2 as Odorizzi erased a walk for a scoreless fourth, but a leadoff single in the top of the fifth would score and give him his third earned run of the game before he would end his night two outs into the frame. His final line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 69 P.

Phil Maton was Houston's first reliever out, taking over for Odorizzi to try and get the third out of the fifth. After an error, shift-beating single, and a walk, he loaded the bases but would escape the jam by getting a groundout, using 19 pitches to get one out, but keeping the score 6-3. Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the sixth, and after two walks, he nearly gave up a game-tying three-run homer to Tony Kemp, but it would get snagged at the wall by Kyle Tucker to end the inning and strand both runners.

Astros clinch the second seed

The Astros added more insurance in the bottom of the sixth, putting two on base to set up a two-RBI triple by Michael Brantley to extend the lead to five runs. Brooks Raley took over out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh, and he erased a one-out single to get a scoreless inning. The runs kept coming across for Houston in the bottom of the inning, with a leadoff single by Gurriel turning into a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker to give them double-digits.

Kendall Graveman was next out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth, and after putting runners on the corners with no outs, he would allow a two-out RBI single to make it 10-4 before finishing the inning. With his next opportunity likely in ALDS Game 1, the Astros brought in closer Ryan Pressly in the top of the ninth to close out the game. He'd get a scoreless inning to finish off the win, which allows the Astros to stay in Houston after Sunday's regular-season finale to prepare for the ALDS.

Up Next: Game number 162, the final regular-season matchup of the year, will have a start time of 2:10 PM Central on Sunday, around the same time as all other MLB games on the final day of the season. Cole Irvin (10-15, 4.18 ERA) will make his final start of 2021 for Oakland, while Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.56 ERA) will get a final tune-up before taking on his role on the Astros' postseason pitching staff.

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Rockets defeat Clippers, 116-105 Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Rookie Cam Whitmore scored 21 points and the Houston Rockets beat the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers 116-105 on Sunday to finish at .500 season and avoid a fourth straight losing season.

Rookie Amen Thompson had a triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists for the already eliminated Rockets, who finished 41-41 in coach Ime Udoka's first season. Houston was 22-60 last year and 20-62 in 2022.

The Pacific Division champion and fourth-seeded Clippers are headed to the playoffs, where they'll meet Luka Donic and the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round next weekend.

Terance Mann scored 24 points and Amir Coffey added 18 for the Clippers in their last regular-season game at Crypto.com Arena. It's where they've juggled dates with the Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999. The team is moving to its new Intuit Dome in Inglewood next season.

The Clippers couldn't avoid their first three-game losing streak since James Harden's first game with the team, when they lost six in a row from Nov. 1-14.

Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard missed his eighth straight game because of right knee inflammation. The team went 4-4 over that stretch.

Coach Tyronn Lue gave his usual opaque answers about Leonard’s status for the upcoming playoffs before the game. “We’ll see. He feels OK,” said Lue, who, when asked if Leonard has been working out, said, “He’s been doing a little something.”

Also sitting out for the Clippers were Paul George, Harden, Ivica Zubac, Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell and Bones Hyland, who scored a combined 64 points in his previous three games.

Xavier Moon had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists in his first career start for the Clippers. Moon, a 6-footer, beat 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic in a jump ball in the fourth. They matched up again and Marjanovic stuck out his long arm to poke the ball away from Moon.

“He's a big boy,” said Clippers assistant Dan Craig who coached the game, “but X got that jump ball against him.”

Marjanovic scored 13 points in 12 minutes of the fourth. The former Clipper delighted the fans when he smilingly missed two free throws to ensure they would receive free chicken sandwiches.

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