Houston takes game one of this exciting series

Altuve leads the Astros offense to opener win over Giants

Jose Altuve drove in five runs on two homers in Friday's opener against the Giants. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

With the trade deadline come and gone, the Astros began a high-profile series with the Giants in San Francisco on Friday night. Thanks in part to a big night at the plate by Jose Altuve, they would get the impressive win to start the series in what could be a World Series preview.

Final Score: Astros 9, Giants 6

Astros' Record: 64-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (7-2)

Losing Pitcher: Kevin Gausman (9-5)

Altuve and Houston's offense build a lead

The Astros, as they have often done in recent matchups, were able to grab an immediate lead in the first inning. They worked three straight singles to start the game, the third an RBI by Yuli Gurriel. They went on to load the bases, setting up an RBI walk by Kyle Tucker to double the lead to 2-0 but would leave the bases loaded to end the frame.

After the Giants evened things up with a two-run third, Jose Altuve, who started the game with a single, homered in back-to-back at-bats in the fifth and sixth. The homer in the fifth was a solo go-ahead shot, but the louder of the two came in the top of the sixth. Houston loaded the bases in front of him, and Altuve took advantage with a grand slam to extend the lead to 7-2.

Valdez goes five innings

The game taking place in the NL ballpark of the Giants meant that Framber Valdez was not just pitching but also hitting. On the mound, he retired the first seven batters in a row before San Fransisco would get their two runs in the third on back-to-back RBI hits with one out. Valdez finished that inning and two more before being pinch-hit for in the top of the sixth ahead of Altuve's slam. His final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 89 P.

Graveman makes a strong debut as Astros hold on to take the opener

That set up the start of the bullpen's night in the bottom of the sixth. Blake Taylor was first, and he allowed the Giants to trim a run off the lead with back-to-back doubles before finishing the inning. Ryne Stanek came in for the bottom of the seventh but would have a rough appearance as two runs would score on two singles, a walk, and an error, making it 7-5. That prompted a change to bring in Kendall Graveman to make his Astros debut, entering with two on and two out. He would get the third out, sending the game to the eighth, where Carlos Correa would give him another run to work with on an RBI double.

Graveman returned in the bottom of the inning, making a strong statement to finish off his first appearance with his new team by striking out the side to retire all four batters he faced. In the top of the ninth, Aledmys Diaz would help get one more run back for insurance, leading the inning off with a solo home run to make it a four-run game at 9-5. Ryan Pressly came in to try and close things out in the bottom of the ninth. Despite allowing a run on three straight hits to start the inning, he did so, finishing the win for Houston to start this three-game set.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 3:05 PM Central start on Saturday. Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.48 ERA) will try to get his eleventh win of the year for the Astros, while the Giants will send Alex Wood (9-3, 3.65 ERA) to the mound looking for his tenth.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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