Houston gets win number 60

Astros secure series over Rangers with win in walk-heavy game

Yordan Alvarez hit a late homer to extend Houston's lead in a win over the Rangers on Saturday. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After riding a couple of big innings to the win in the series opener, the Astros eyed a series victory on Saturday night against the Rangers. Despite struggles with the strike zone by both starting pitchers that resulted in a plethora of walks, it was still Houston that came out in front by getting timely offense and holding Texas' offense at bay.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 60-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (6-2)

Losing Pitcher: Kyle Gibson (6-3)

Astros jump out to an early lead as both pitchers issue walks galore

There were plenty of walks to go around in the early parts of Saturday's game, with Framber Valdez issuing two in the top of the first, but erasing them, then the Astros taking advantage of a few in the bottom half. Three of Houston's first four batters reached base via walks, loading the bases for Carlos Correa, who watched more balls come in out of the zone to walk in the first run of the night, making it a 1-0 game.

They would leave more on the table, though, with the next two batters recording outs to leave all three runners on base heading to the second, but were able to rectify that in the third. They extended their lead in the bottom of the third by more conventional means, getting two on base via a walk and double to set up sacrifice flys by Correa and Yordan Alvarez, putting them in front 3-0.

A wild, yet quality, start for Valdez

After issuing two walks each in the first and second innings but working around them, Framber Valdez settled in and started pitching efficiently in the top of the third. He retired the Rangers in order that frame, then worked around a two-out walk in the fourth. He followed that with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, and despite allowing his sixth walk in the top of the sixth, he was able to erase it to keep the shutout alive and keep Texas without a hit. At 99 pitches, that would be it for him, as Houston would move on to the bullpen in the next inning. His final line: 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 4 K, 99 P.

Houston locks up the series

After the Astros left the bases loaded for the second time in the bottom of the sixth, the first reliever out of their bullpen was Bryan Abreu in the top of the seventh. Abreu had a solid inning, working around a leadoff error that put a runner on by retiring the next three, two on strikeouts. Yordan Alvarez added a run to the lead in the bottom of the inning, blasting a solo homer to push the score to 4-0.

Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the eighth and would watch a bloop single break up the no-hitter to lead off the inning. Still, he got through the frame by striking out the side to maintain the four-run lead. Ryan Pressly entered to finish things off in the top of the ninth but would allow a one-out solo homer to break up the shutout. He finished the inning, closing out the win for Houston to secure the series and handing the Rangers their eleventh loss in a row.

Up Next: The final game of this series and this homestand will be a 1:10 PM Central start on Sunday, with the Astros slated to hit the road for eight games after the finale. The Rangers are expected to have a bullpen day, while Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.58 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros to try and finish the sweep.

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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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