Houston salvages a game against New York

Altuve walks off Yankees again to send Astros into All-Star break with a win

Jose Altuve hit yet another momentous homer against the Yankees in Sunday's series finale. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Riding a twenty-inning scoreless streak including being shutout in the first two of this series, the Astros needed a momentum shift to head into the All-Star break on a positive note. It took until the very end of the game, but thanks to Jose Altuve, they'd have plenty to celebrate before a few days off.

Final Score: Astros 8, Yankees 7

Astros' Record: 55-36, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ralph Garza Jr. (1-2)

Losing Pitcher: Chad Green (3-5)

Valdez struggles with the zone, lasts only four

Framber Valdez did not have great control of the strike zone in the series finale against New York on Sunday, as evident by back-to-back walks to start the game. He was able to work around them to avoid any damage, and did the same in the second by erasing two singles. New York got to him in the third, though, with two walks and an error allowing the Yankees to take the early 1-0 lead.

After a Martin Maldonado solo home run in the bottom of the third to tie the game, the Yankees quickly regained the lead with a solo shot to lead off the top of the fourth, though Valdez would finish the inning by erasing another walk. He came back out for the top of the fifth, but after a walk and two singles against the first three batters to bring in another run to make it 3-1, and which his pitch count rising, Dusty Baker would make the early call to the bullpen to bring in Andre Scrubb, who would stop the damage there by retiring all three batters he faced. Valdez's final line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 91 P.

Yankees extend their lead against Houston's bullpen

After a 1-2-3 inning by Joe Smith in the top of the sixth to keep it a two-run game at 3-1, Kyle Tucker trimmed the lead to one with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the inning. New York quickly regained the momentum, however, against Bryan Abreu in the top of the seventh, getting an RBI single to make it 4-2. The Astros' pitching staff continued to deal with walks, as Blake Taylor would take over in the top of the eighth and issue two, setting up a three-run blast which at the time looked like it had sealed the game for New York, making it a five-run game at 7-2. Ralph Garza Jr. would end up coming in and finishing the eighth and remained in the game for a scoreless top of the ninth.

Altuve does it again to cap off a six-run ninth

In the bottom of the ninth, the Astros tried to get a rally going, starting with leadoff man Yuli Gurriel reaching base, then moving to third on a double by Kyle Tucker. Both would score in the next at-bat, with Chas McCormick hitting a two-RBI double off the left-field scoreboard, making it 7-4, and keeping the Astros alive. Abraham Toro kept the train moving next, getting his own RBI double to make it a two-run game.

Houston brought in Jason Castro to pinch-hit for Robel Garcia in the next spot in the lineup, and he too would get a hit, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. After New York notched the first out to try and get ahold of the game, Jose Altuve stepped to the plate against Chad Green, representing the winning run. Just like he ended the 2019 ALCS, Altuve sent the home fans into an uproar as he would hit a walk-off three-run home run to cap off the improbable six-run inning to give the Astros a win to avoid the series sweep and head into the break with a celebration, during which Altuve would not resist letting his teammates dispose of his jersey to reveal nothing but his tattood bare chest.

Up Next: The Astros will get some much-needed rest over the next four days, picking up after the All-Star break in Chicago on Friday to start a three-game series with the White Sox at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (6-2, 2.94 ERA) is expected to make the start for Houston, while Chicago has not yet determined their starter.

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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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