Houston loses to Cleveland

Astros give up finale to Indians as Houston's bullpen falters

Lance McCullers Jr. had a rough end to his night in Wednesday's game against the Indians. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With wins in the first two games of this series, and having swept all four in Cleveland earlier in the year, the Astros entered Wednesday trying to finish off the season-series sweep over the Indians. They would come up short, however, as Houston's bullpen would not hold up, allowing Cleveland to salvage a game.

Final Score: Indians 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 58-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Shaw (3-3)

Losing Pitcher: Austin Pruitt (0-1)

McCullers Jr. battles, but ends up on the hook

Lance McCullers Jr. had an up-and-down night, posting two solid innings to start the game before giving up a game-tying RBI-double in the third where he allowed two hits, a walk, and used 34 pitches. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 fourth, erased runners on second and third with one out in the top of the fifth, but in the sixth would not record an out after loading the bases on two singles and a walk, ending his night. Bryan Abreu came in from the bullpen and, after striking out the first two batters, allowed a bases-clearing double to charge three runs to McCullers Jr. That finalized his line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Houston ties it back up

To that point, the Astros had brought in two runs, both on solo homers. The first was a game-tying solo shot by Jose Altuve, his third over the last two games, in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Tucker then gave Houston a lead in the bottom of the fifth, blasting a solo shot to go ahead 2-1.

Then, down 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Martin Maldonado led off with a double, then scored on an RBI double by Jose Altuve, cutting the lead to one run and leaving Altuve on second as the tying run. After a sacrifice groundout by Michael Brantley to move Altuve to third, Yuli Gurriel would get him home, tying the game with an RBI single to make it 4-4 heading to the seventh.

Astros drop the finale

Austin Pruitt was Houston's next reliever, coming in to take over in the top of the seventh. He allowed a one-out go-ahead solo homer to Cleveland, then faced and retired one more batter to hit the minimum of three before Dusty Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who finished the frame on one pitch.

After the Astros stranded the tying runner in the bottom of the seventh, Ryne Stanek was next out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth and kept it a one-run game, erasing a one-out walk. Still 5-4 in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came on and continued his recent success by posting a scoreless inning. It would be to no avail, though, as the Astros would come up empty in the home half, allowing Cleveland to salvage a game in both this series and the season series.

Up Next: The Astros will have Thursday off before continuing this homestand by welcoming the Rangers into town for a three-game set starting Friday at 7:10 PM Central. In the opener, Kolby Allard (2-7, 4.06 ERA) for Texas is expected to face Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.09 ERA) for Houston.

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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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