Houston takes two of three

Astros grab series victory with win over Blue Jays in finale

Astros' Jose Altuve
Jose Altuve started Sunday's finale with a bang. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Jose Altuve started Sunday's finale with a bang.

After splitting the first two games of the series, and Houston leading the six-game season series 3-2, the Astros and Blue Jays returned to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, for a decisive final matchup. Houston would come out on top, building up a lead that Luis Garcia and his bullpen could hold on to for the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Blue Jays 3

Astros' Record: 33-26, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Steven Matz (6-3)

Houston builds up an early lead

Houston received an immediate lead in this one, courtesy of another leadoff home run by Jose Altuve to grab a 1-0 lead. Chas McCormick matched that to lead off the second inning, getting one of his own to double the lead. Toronto cut that in half in the bottom of the second against Luis Garcia, getting runners to second and third to set up a sac fly by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to make it 2-1.

Houston responded in the top of the next inning, loading the bases for Kyle Tucker, who delivered a two-RBI single to grow Houston's lead to 4-1. That score held until the top of the seventh when Houston would take advantage of some defensive miscues by Toronto to load the bases. Martin Maldanado grounded into what should have been an inning-ending play but instead beat out a throw after an error to make it a 5-1 Houston lead, though they could have had more.

Garcia stays hot on the mound

Luis Garcia allowed just that one run in his six innings of work, stranding runners in scoring position in the third and fourth before sitting down the last seven batters he faced in order, four of them on strikeouts. It ended up being another excellent day for him on the mound, where if not for the four-run lead, he may have kept going for more. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 79 P.

Astros take the series

Brooks Raley took over out of Houston's bullpen with the four-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. He kept it there, tossing a 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout to move the game to the eighth. Alex Bregman scalded a one-out double in the top of the inning, getting into scoring position for a two-out RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to grow the lead to five runs. Raley would face one more batter, getting the first out of the bottom of the eighth.

Ryne Stanek tried to take over and finish the inning from there but created his own trouble by loading the bases on a hit batter, single, and a walk. Houston ceded a run in favor of an out on a groundout, but Toronto would bring in another on a two-out RBI single, making it a 6-3 game before Stanek would get the final out. After a scoreless top of the inning, Ryan Pressly notched the save to finish off the win in the bottom of the ninth.

Up Next: Houston will get a day off on Monday before resuming this road trip on Tuesday in Boston against the Red Sox. The first of that three-game set will start at 6:10 PM Central on Tuesday, with Framber Valdez (1-0, 1.64 ERA) for the Astros expected to go up against Martin Perez (4-2, 3.09 ERA) for the Red Sox.

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The NBA Draft takes place this Wednesday and Thursday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

This year's NBA draft features potential starters and valuable role players more so than no-doubt future stars. That becomes evident when looking at the headlining prospects among big men.

French teenager Alexandre Sarr from France could go No. 1 overall with his length and defensive potential, key reasons why he has thrice topped the AP's NBA mock draft. Meanwhile, Donovan Clingan from two-time reigning national champion UConn also will likely be a high pick as a rim-protecting force.

It's just unclear how quickly any will be ready for a leading role in the league, particularly offensively.

Here's a look at some of the top players in the position:

Alexandre Sarr, France

STRENGTHS: The athleticism, mobility and length offer significant upside at both ends of the court for the 7-footer, whether as a rim protector and versatile defender or as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls for lobs on offense. Sarr, 19, spent two seasons with the Overtime Elite developmental program for top prospects in the United States, then last season with Perth in the Australian-based National Basketball League as part of its “Next Stars” program. He ranked tied for second there by averaging 1.5 blocks despite averaging just 17.3 minutes.

He finished strong by averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 assists in his last six games with Perth. He also ranked among the best at the combine with a wingspan of better than 7-4.

CONCERNS: He'll need time to add bulk to a lean 224-pound frame and handle the rigors of an NBA season. Developing more consistent 3-point range (he shot 29% in the NBL last season) will be key to fully realizing his defense-stretching potential.

Donovan Clingan, UConn

STRENGTHS: He is big, strong and surprisingly nimble for his imposing 7-2, 282-pound frame, which made him an interior shot-blocking force in the Huskies' run to college basketball's first repeat men's title in 17 years. He ranked eighth in Division I by averaging 2.5 blocks per game despite playing just 22.6 minutes, then had some massive games in the NCAA Tournament. That included eight blocks and 14 rebounds in the second-round win against Northwestern, followed by 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a regional final against Illinois (the Illini were 0 for 19 on Clingan-challenged shots ) and four more swats against Alabama in the Final Four.

The 20-year-old sophomore runs the floor well despite his bulk and is a strong finisher. He also was tied for first at the combine in standing reach (9-7) and was second in wingspan (nearly 7-7).

CONCERNS: It's unclear how well he might handle switches to defend outside the paint in space. While he shot nearly 64% to rank among the national leaders, he has rarely had to produce much outside of the paint. He also shot just 55.8% from the line in two seasons.

Kel'el Ware, Indiana

STRENGTHS: The 20-year-old sophomore has flashed intriguing two-way potential to make himself a first-round prospect, first in a season at Oregon and then last year at Indiana. He averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season as a starter for the Hoosiers. He made 17 of 40 3-pointers (.425), indicating the potential for growth in terms of pulling defenders outside.

The 7-footer has a nearly 7-5 wingspan and tested well at the NBA combine by ranking second among bigs in the lane agility test (second at 10.97 seconds) and shuttle run (second, 2.91).

CONCERNS: He'll need to add strength to his 230-pound frame and improve at the line, where he shot just 63.4% last year.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

STRENGTHS: The 6-11, 230-pound sophomore could play either forward or center as a first-round prospect. He was a steady producer by averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Blue Devils. He also more than doubled his shot-blocking totals last year (54, up from 26 as a freshman) when having to work as Duke's interior anchor after Dereck Lively II's departure for the NBA. He has shown improved mobility and footwork after surgery on his hips before last season, and he has improved as an outside shooter (34.8% from 3 last year, up from 28.2% in 2022-23).

CONCERNS: Filipowski isn't an elite athlete, so he could be vulnerable defensively in space as well as struggle against physical play. He slipped at the foul line last year, shooting just 67.1% after checking in at 76.5% as a freshman.

Others of Note

—ZACH EDEY: The 7-4, 299-pound Purdue center is a two-time Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year who led the Boilermakers to last year’s NCAA title game as the national scoring leader (25.2) and Division I’s No. 2 rebounder (12.2). He closed his career with 37 points in the title-game loss to UConn. He has a ridiculous wingspan of nearly 7-11 to go with the ability to shoot over any defender. There is uncertainty whether the first-round prospect is athletic enough to handle defensive switches or guarding in space.

—DARON HOLMES II: The 6-9, 236-pound junior from Dayton spent the past two seasons putting up big numbers, averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 56.7%. He also hit 38.6% of his 3s last year and averaged 2.1 blocks for his college career. The Atlantic 10 co-player of the year and league defensive player of the year could go in the back half of the first round, though he is a bit undersized among bigs.

—YVES MISSI: The 6-11, 229-pound center from Baylor came on as the season went on as a one-and-done prospect with bouncy athleticism, helping him finish at the rim (61.4% shooting) and block shots (1.5). That could make him a pick-and-roll or lob threat in the pros, though the 20-year-old from Cameroon will have to expand his offense beyond those crowd-charging dunks and improve at the line (61.6%).

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