Houston pounds Boston

Astros ride early lead to win over Red Sox in series opener

Yordan Alvarez had a monster homer in Tuesday's opener. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With a day off on Monday to catch some rest, and winners of six of their last eight games, including three against this same Red Sox team, the Astros entered Fenway Park Tuesday night with some confidence on their side. It showed as they would pound Boston to get an early lead which they rode to the win in this three-game series opener.

Final Score: Astros 7, Red Sox 1

Astros' Record: 34-26, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Martin Perez (4-3)

Houston blows it open early

Houston did not go easy on Martin Perez, whose last start resulted in 7.2 shutout innings against the Astros last week. Carlos Correa started the scoring with a one-out solo homer in the top of the first, then played a part in a five-run second. They began the inning with three straight hits, including a two-RBI single by Martin Maldonado.

Correa doubled in another, then with the bases loaded, Yordan Alvarez would get hit by a pitch before an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel made it 6-0. In the top of the fourth, Alvarez extended the lead another run with a monster solo homer 451 feet over the center-field wall.

Valdez does it again

Framber Valdez worked well with the lead, repeating his success against Boston in his seven-inning ten strikeout start against them on June 2nd. He allowed just one baserunner through the first three frames, a leadoff single in the bottom of the third, which he would erase. He faced trouble in the bottom of the fourth, putting two runners on via a hit batter and single, setting up a one-out RBI-groundout to get Boston on the board at 7-1.

He bounced back from that, stranding two more runners in the fifth, another in the sixth, then posting a 1-2-3 seventh. He faced two more batters, hitting one and getting another out to start the eighth. His final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

Astros take the opener

Enoli Paredes came in from the bullpen to finish the eighth, erasing the inherited runner along with one of his own to keep it a six-run game going to the ninth. Blake Taylor came on to wrap things up, erasing a two-out double to finish off the win for Houston, the seventh in their last nine games.

Up Next: Another 6:10 PM Central start awaits these two teams for the middle game Wednesday night. Jake Odorizzi (0-3, 7.16 ERA) will try to get his first win of the year and lock up the series for the Astros, while Nathan Eovaldi (7-2, 3.78 ERA) will look to even things up for Boston.

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NASCAR is coming to Texas! Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s an All-Star weekend for the NASCAR Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. As most fans know, this race is extremely different from what we see on a usual Sunday. This race is an invitational event featuring the winners from the 2021 and 2022 seasons with a few qualifiers including past champions and past All-Star winners over the last ten seasons. As it does every year, the format for this race has changed. It will be divided into four stages, and the winner of each of the first three stages will take up the first three spots on the grid (as long as they finish 15th or higher). The final stage will be fifty laps and if there is no caution between laps 15-25, then the yellow will be thrown to stack everything up. Probably the most important and intriguing change to the format won’t take place on race day, but during qualifying. The field will be given one lap and the fastest eight will advance to the final round, where they will each face-off head-to-head in a bracket. Each paring will have a mandatory pit-stop before exiting, and the first car back to the finish line moves on. This is a unique way of deciding who starts where, I would not be surprised in the slightest if it comes back somewhere down the line in the future

Last week, Kurt Busch went on to score his first victory of the year. It didn’t come easy for the 2004 champion, he had to fend off Kyle Larson and his brother Kyle Busch. The race was marred by numerous tire failures, as it seemed drivers could only go 25-35 laps before running into an issue. Luckily for Kurt, the cautions fell at the right time and he was able to manage his tires as he dominated the race by leading a race-high 116 laps. This was the first win for the #45 car at 23XII racing, as now both Busch and his teammate Bubba Wallace both have victories. While it’s been a frustrating season for this team, this win couldn’t have come at a better time.

While Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan celebrated their team win, Stewart-Haas racing was on the opposite end of the spectrum. All four of their cars finished outside the top ten, including their franchise driver Kevin Harvick. It’s worth noting that despite the disastrous day that he had, Harvick could bounce back with a respectable 15th-place finish. This team has a lot of questions regarding the future of their driver lineup. We know that next season Aric Almirola will retire, but after that who will fill the seat? Will it be their reserve driver Ryan Preece? Could it even be Kyle Busch? With these types of disappointing results from Harvick, many have wondered if he might decide to retire at the end of the 2022 season. This will be a team to follow in the coming months.

As we reach the dog days of summer, the infamous silly season is right around the corner. This is when the rumors start to become louder and louder about who will go next season and what rides will be available. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle Busch is easily the biggest question on the grid, with Mars leaving at season's end, can Joe Gibbs racing find him a sponsor to keep him in the #18 Toyota? There were reports on Thursday that the team was in negotiations with a “major tech company” to sponsor the car for one season. It’s clear that re-signing the two-time champion is the number one priority for Joe Gibbs and Toyota. TRD Executive David Wilson stated that losing him would be, “Unacceptable.” It will be interesting to see this story develop.

With that, the driver I have winning the All-Star Race this weekend is none other than Kyle Busch. Overall, it’s hard to find active drivers with better stats here at this track than him as he’s won here four times, the most among the field. He’s also led over 1,069 laps here, almost more than double the amount of the next closest driver (Martin Truex Jr with 674). When Jimmie Johnson stepped away from the sport in 2020, it was clear that the torch was handed over to Kyle as the best driver at this racetrack. He will be the driver to beat for the million dollars when the checkered flag falls.

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