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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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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