Houston gets back in the win column

Altuve's slam helps push Astros out of losing skid in win over Indians

Jose Altuve came through with a grand slam Thursday to push Astros over Indians. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After a disappointing fourth loss in a row on Wednesday at home to finish the sweep by the very beatable Orioles, the Astros picked up a four-game series and road trip in Cleveland on Thursday in need of a win to keep pace and maintain a now thin division lead. Thanks to a great start by Framber Valdez and a timely grand slam by Jose Altuve, they would get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 7, Indians 2

Astros' Record: 49-33, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-1)

Losing Pitcher: J.C. Mejia (1-3)

Cleveland strikes first, but Valdez battles through seven

After a quick bottom of the first for Framber Valdez, it looked like his night might unravel in the second. He faced seven batters that frame, with a run scoring on a wild pitch after a leadoff walk and single put runners on the corners. Cleveland went on to load the bases with one out, but Valdez escaped to limit the damage to one run.

The Indians doubled their new lead in the next inning, getting back-to-back one-out doubles to make it 2-0. After that, he would cruise the rest of the way, erasing a couple of walks and a hit over the next four frames to leave with a quality start and ultimately a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 107 P.

Altuve's slam turns the tide

Houston began battling back from the 2-0 hole in the top of the fourth, getting a solo blast from Yordan Alvarez to cut it in half. They loaded the bases on three straight batters to start the top of the fifth, bringing Jose Altuve to the plate, who came through with a grand slam to give the Astros their first lead of the night, 5-2.

They extended it to a four-run advantage later in the inning, getting a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel. After Cleveland went to their bullpen, Michael Brantley would give his former teammates a taste of what they've been missing, hitting a solo home run to make it a 7-2 game in the top of the seventh.

Houston ends losing skid to take the opener

After Valdez, Houston brought in Peter Solomon for the bottom of the eighth to hold on to the five-run lead, and he would do so by getting out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam to strand all three runners and send the game to the ninth. Having not worked in the last few days, Ryan Pressly came on in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, putting the Astros back in the win column to end their losing streak.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 6:10 PM Central start on Friday. Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 2.94 ERA) will be on the mound to try and help Houston get back-to-back wins, while Cleveland will send out Sam Hentges (1-2, 7.32 ERA).

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A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.


But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

“In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

“We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

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