Houston goes up 2-0 in the series

Astros take ALDS Game 2 and commanding series lead on late offensive breakout

Houston's bats rose to the occasion again in ALDS Game 2 to beat the Chicago White Sox. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

With the lopsided victory in Game 1, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Friday afternoon in search of a duplicate effort to grab hold of the series. Although it would be a much more closely contested game until the latter stages, Houston would blow things open late against Chicago's bullpen, sending them to a 2-0 series lead.

Final Score: Astros 9, White Sox 4

ALDS Series (Best of Five): Houston leads 2-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Aaron Bummer

Chicago strikes first, but Houston responds

In a reversal of Game 1, the White Sox grabbed the momentum by scoring the first run in Friday's Game 2. It came on a rough first inning by Framber Valdez, who loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a hit-by-pitch. An RBI groundout, which for Valdez was lucky to be only that thanks to a solid defensive play by Jose Altuve, made it a 1-0 Chicago lead before Valdez finished the frame.

Valdez rebounded impressively in the top of the second, striking out the side 1-2-3 on 14 pitches, getting each batter to swing and miss at his curveball for strike three. Houston tagged Lucas Giolito in the bottom half, putting two on base before getting an RBI single by Kyle Tucker and sacrifice fly by Chas McCormick, taking a 2-1 lead heading to the third.

White Sox put up three in the fifth, but things get tied up again

Both teams wasted an opportunity across the bottom of the third and top of the fourth, with the Astros putting runners on second and third with one out on a Michael Brantley double and Alex Bregman single, yet both would get stranded there on quick outs after them. Chicago notched a leadoff single in their half of the fourth, but after an unassisted double play by Yuli Gurriel, Valdez would get his sixth strikeout of the day to keep the one-run lead intact.

Chicago put together a big inning with the bottom of their order flipping over to bring the top to face Valdez a third time in the top of the fifth. A leadoff single started the rally, as then with one out, they would get a single to get the tying run into scoring position. Luis Robert capitalized, getting an RBI single to make it 2-2, and prompted Dusty Baker to move to his bullpen early.

Yimi Garcia entered but would give up two more runs charged to Valdez, an RBI single by Jose Abreu, and a sac fly by Yasmani Grandal, making it 4-2 before he would finish the inning. That put a close to Valdez's pitching line on the day, not the start he wanted at 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 69 P.

Now down two runs and with work to do, the Astros kept grinding in at-bats against Giolito in the bottom of the fifth. They worked a walk against him to lead off the frame, then with one out got another, as Chicago would move to their bullpen and eng Giolito's day at 90 four and one-thirds innings pitched. Another walk loaded the bases, bringing up the AL batting title winner of 2021, Yuli Gurriel.

Gurriel, having not recorded a hit in the first two games to that point, made his first an impactful one, sneaking a single past the infield to bring in two runs and tie the game, 4-4. That left them in prime position to go back in front, with a runner on second and one out, but a double play would end their threat.

Houston explodes for five in the seventh

Phil Maton was next out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the sixth, sitting down Chicago 1-2-3. Ryne Stanek took over in the seventh, and despite allowing a two-out single and walk, was able to get out of the inning and kept the score tied.

Jose Altuve led off with a single in the bottom of the seventh, which sparked an avalanche of Houston hits. Alex Bregman followed with a one-out single, then Yordan Alvarez followed with an RBI single to put the Astros back in front. They blew it open with two outs, with Carlos Correa lifting a two-RBI double, followed by Kyle Tucker, who put the exclamation point with a two-run homer to the Crawford Boxes.

Astros take Game 2 and a commanding series lead

Ryan Pressly, who had already warmed up to face the middle of Chicago's lineup, came in for the top of the eighth and, despite a two-out single, would get through it unscathed. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Kendall Graveman entered to put the finishing touches on things in the top of the ninth.

He wouldn't have the cleanest inning, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, but went on to retire the next three batters to end the game. The victory puts the Astros in the driver's seat heading into Game 3, needing just one more win over the next three games to advance to their fifth straight ALCS as they continue their journey to the franchise's second World Series crown.

Up Next: The teams will have a travel day on Saturday before picking up with ALDS Game 3 at 7:07 PM Central from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on Sunday. During the preparation for Game 2, the Astros named Luis Garcia, who went 11-8 with a 3.30 ERA in the regular season, as their starter. The White Sox have not yet determined theirs.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
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…

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome