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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It's Draft SZN! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

On Thursday June 22, the NBA will hold their annual draft. With the Rockets owning the number four overall pick, you'd think things would be looking up for them. However, in a draft where the top three players are all expected to be immediate impact guys, the drop begins where the Rockets are selecting. Armed with some young talent, cap space, and a new head coach, the Rockets are looked at as a team on the rise. But what will help contribute to that rise?

When you have assets, you have options. There are three main options I see here for the Rockets with number four: keep the pick and select the guy you think will work best moving forward; trade up to select the guy they feel they missed out on that isn't a punk Frenchie who dislikes Houston; or trade the pick for an established star. The other option is trading the pick for a good player and a future pick/s. Let's take a look at the options:

Option 1: Keeping the pick means you're drafting the leftovers. Those leftovers start with Amen Thompson. He's the guy I believe can come in and help sooner rather than later. At 6'7 and 215 pounds, he has an NBA body. His skill set can come in handy because he's played point guard. This team could use a true point guard, but Thompson isn't exactly a traditional point. He has the size of a wing player, which allows him to see over the top of the defense. His outside shooting is abysmal and needs a vast improvement. To me, adjusting to life as a pro without his twin brother Ausar, another good draft prospect himself, will be difficult. Overall, I believe he's the guy to take at four if they decide to stay.

Option 2: Trading up to get Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller may prove to be difficult. Both teams picking ahead of the Rockets have their point guards. Charlotte wants to find Lamelo Ball a running mate and have their eyes rumored to be set on Miller. Portland is trying their best to keep Dame Lillard happy. The Rockets would be best served to trade with either team willing to move down for whatever they offer, provided it's worthwhile. Portland was just in the playoffs the last few years and aren't as far out as some would think. They're the ones I'd eye to trade with. Speaking of Portland and Dame…

Option 3: The Rockets need a point guard and Dame may be looking to get out. Help them start their rebuild and bring Dame to Houston. Or, how about the Jaylen Brown rumors? Fred VanVleet has a player option for next season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent. There are a few options of finding veteran help around the league, especially at the point. Problem is, are any of these team willing to take the Rockets' offers? It'd start with number four, and include other assets as well. This option makes sense if the organization believes the roster, with whatever vet addition they make via trade, is playoff ready.

Option 4: The last option I thought about is to trade the pick for a first rounder in next year's draft and a decent player. I see this as a last resort of sorts. But only if they do not feel comfortable with whatever player they may take. That, and if they want to save cap space for next free agency period. Not having a first rounder next year isn't as bad as one might think. The team will need to make the necessary moves this offseason to ensure that won't be an issue next draft. FOMO is real, especially when a team is rebuilding and can't use one of the best/cheapest forms of acquiring top talent.

I talked with my good friend “TC.” The guy loves basketball and even hips me to a bunch of stuff. He wants them to move up in the draft for Scoot or Miller. While he is a James Harden fan, he doesn't necessarily want him back. He wouldn't mind it, but it's not his first option. I've spoken with a lot of native Houstonians about this. They all want a winner sooner than later, but have different philosophies on how to get there. Personally, I say options two and three are my faves. Trade the pick for help, rookie or vet, and go from there. I guess we'll have to wait three more weeks before we find out. Or will we…

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