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.
We heard it was cold, so we turned it up a notch.#ForTheH pic.twitter.com/tcC5xcRcRc
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 11, 2021
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.
Luka Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and the Dallas Mavericks prevented the Houston Rockets from advancing to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 121-115 victory on Tuesday night.
Kyrie Irving added 22 of his 27 points in the second half for the Mavericks, who had already been eliminated. Their victory allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to win Group B in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.
Doncic fell just short of his 59th career triple-double. That would have tied him for ninth place all-time with Larry Bird. He shot 15 of 29, 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn’t,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s about winning, but it just so happens he’s a walking triple-double.
”The Mavericks, who trailed by nine points in the third quarter, grabbed the lead for good at 99-98 with 6:25 to play on a drive by Irving. Leading 103-100 with 5:25 left, they went on an 8-2 run that included three free throws by Derrick Jones Jr. when he was fouled by Dillon Brooks on a 25-footer with the shot clock about to expire.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left pulled the Rockets within 119-115 before Dallas closed it out.
Doncic played after sustaining a low-grade sprain of his left thumb on his non-shooting hand early in Saturday’s game. He wore a wrap on the thumb.
Doncic made a hook shot from the free throw line after recovering a loose ball near the baseline.
“I’m 2 for 2 in my career on the hooks,” Doncic said, saying the other came while playing for the Slovenian national team against Sweden.
Irving shot 2 for 11 in the first half, 1 for 5 on 3-pointers, with no free-throw attempts. He was 6 for 11 in the second half, hitting 1 of 2 behind the arc, and sank all nine free throws.
“I told the team, ‘Played well enough to win, not smart enough to win,’” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We were extra-aggressive, especially at the end of the third quarter. Had multiple players make a few dumb fouls, put Kyrie at the line and got him going when he didn’t have a lot going. You can be aggressive, obviously, but slapping somebody on a 3-point shot on the arm is an unintelligent play. It has nothing to do with aggression.”
Alperen Sengun had a season-best 31 points for the Rockets, who had six scorers in double figures. Fred VanVleet had 10 points and 12 assists.
The Rockets have lost all six of their road games this season. They went into play leading the NBA by allowing an average of 104.4 points per game.
The Mavericks didn’t use the specially built court for either of their home tournament games, citing dissatisfaction with the quality.
Rockets: Will finish a back-to-back at Denver on Wednesday.
Mavericks: Host Memphis on Friday.