Houston gets the win

Astros overpower Rangers in series opener

Kyle Tucker had a big homer in the middle of Houston's offensive outburst in Friday's game against the Rangers.Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After starting their second half 3-3 with a series loss against the White Sox and win over the Indians, the Astros welcomed in the Rangers to try and improve their record and stay on pace in front of the A's in the AL West. Thanks to two big innings in Friday's opener, they would grab a win to start this three-game installment of the Silver Boot Series.

Final Score: Astros 7, Rangers 3

Astros' Record: 59-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3)

Losing Pitcher: Kolby Allard (2-8)

Houston breaks it open early

After two scoreless innings on both sides, the Astros broke the seal, and the game open, in the third and the fourth innings. In the bottom of the third, Houston loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, setting up an RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI ground ball by Carlos Correa, then three-run homer by Kyle Tucker, jumping out to a 5-0 lead. They tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on second and third before an RBI groundout by Michael Brantley and a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel, extending the lead to 7-0.

Odorizzi runs into trouble in the fifth

That gave Jake Odorizzi a clear path to a win. Yet, after four scoreless innings, he would struggle in the fifth, getting two strikeouts to start the frame but then allowed three runs on three hits and a walk, making it 7-3 and prompting Dusty Baker to bring in Brandon Bielak to finish the inning. Odorizzi's final line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 86 P.

Astros take the opener

After recording the last out of the fifth for Odorizzi, Bielak retired seven of the eight batters he faced, getting through the seventh inning out of the bullpen for Houston and maintaining the four-run lead. Blake Taylor was the next reliever out, and he erased a two-out walk and a single to complete a scoreless top of the eighth. Cristian Javier came in to close things out in the top of the ninth, tossing a 1-2-3 frame to finish off the victory.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will get started at 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Framber Valdez (5-2, 3.26 ERA) will be on the mound for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (6-2, 2.86 ERA) is slated to go for the Rangers.

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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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