Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop opener to Twins on rough inning by Valdez

Astros' Framber Valdez
Framber Valdez's poor second inning gave the Twins a lead they wouldn't give up on Thursday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Framber Valdez's poor second inning gave the Twins a lead they wouldn't give up on Thursday.

After dropping the second of two games in LA for the split with the Dodgers to end their recent road trip, the Astros returned home to welcome in the Twins for a four-game series. The opener would not go their way, as Minnesota would have a big inning, making the difference in the loss for the home team.

Final Score: Twins 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 65-44, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (7-3)

Losing Pitcher: Griffin Jax (2-1)

Valdez's poor second inning proves costly

Whether from getting into Houston in the early hours of the morning from Los Angeles or just general sluggishness, the Astros' offense did not look themselves in Thursday's opener. They had only two baserunners in the first five innings, a first-inning single, and a fifth-inning walk.

Jason Castro put Houston on the board with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but by then, it mattered little, as the Twins had already done their damage against Framber Valdez. It came in the top of the second, a four-run frame for Minnesota on five hits to jump out to the significant early lead. Valdez rebound from that poor inning, getting into the seventh inning without allowing more runs to score. His final line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 107 P.

Astros drop the opener

As far as Houston's bullpen, Yimi Garcia came in to finish the seventh for Valdez, giving up a walk before getting a strikeout to end the inning. After him, the Astros leaned on Cristian Javier, who tossed the eighth and ninth, allowing a run in the eighth to make it 5-1. In the bottom of the ninth, still a four-run deficit, Michael Brantley legged out an infield single to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who promptly delivered a two-run homer to cut the lead to two runs. That's as close as they'd come, though, despite getting the tying run base, as the Twins would hold on to take the opener to hand the Astros back-to-back losses.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Friday. The pitching matchup is expected to be Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.65 ERA) for the Astros and Bailey Ober (1-1, 4.94 ERA) for the Twins.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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