Houston goes quiet at the plate again

Astros shutout by Yankees in series opener in Houston

Houston's normally potent offense was held in check for the second straight game on Friday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a surprisingly quiet offensive day that resulted in a loss to Oakland the day prior to end their winning streak, the Astros welcomed in the Yankees to Minute Maid Park to try and have success in their last series before the All-Star break. Instead, they would have similar offensive struggles, with the Yankees getting a shutout win to start the three-game set.

Final Score: Yankees 4, Astros 0

Astros' Record: 54-35, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lucas Luetge (3-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (3-4)

Yankees tag Odorizzi with two runs

After three scoreless innings to start the series, New York would put the first runs on the scoreboard against Jake Odorizzi in the top of the fourth. The Yankees notched three hits that inning: a one-out single, two-out single, then a two-out two-RBI double to give them the 2-0 lead. That did it for the scoring as far as the starting pitchers were concerned with New York's Nestor Cortes going four and two-thirds innings while holding Houston at bay, and Odorizzi finishing six. Odorizzi's final line, which despite being a quality start still had him in line for the loss: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR, 103 P.

Astros shutout in the opener

With Odorizzi's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of Houston's bullpen, looking to repeat the success he had in his first start off of the IL on July 6th when he gave his team two scoreless frames. It would not go as well, however, as he would give up a one-out walk followed by a double to set up a two-RBI double to double New York's lead at 4-0. Brandon Bielak would ultimately come in to finish the inning, while Houston tried to get on the board themselves against the Yankees' relievers.

No runs would come for Houston in the bottom of the seventh, then Bielak remained on the mound for a scoreless top of the eighth, then returned with the score still stuck at 4-0 in the top of the ninth. He kept it a four-run game, completing 2.2 impressive innings of scoreless relief, but Houston's offense would not get anything done in the bottom of the ninth, suffering the shutout loss to start the series.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game series will get underway at 6:15 PM Central on Saturday. Former-Astro Gerrit Cole (8-4, 2.91 ERA) will make his first start in Houston since leaving the team after the 2019 season, going opposite Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.64 ERA).

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The Coogs play Miami on Friday night. Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images.

Number one seed University of Houston is favored by 7.5 points over No. 5 Miami, and No. 2 University of Texas is favored by 4 over No. 3 Xavier Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Kansas City.

Talk about opening acts. If both UH and UT win, they’ll meet Sunday in a good ol’ WWE-style Texas death match for a berth in the Final Four at NRG Stadium in Houston. Thank you, Mr. Schedule Maker.

How much do you think Cougar fans would love for UH to get their hands on the Longhorns with so much at stake?

For one example, let’s go back to the future, Oct. 21, 2023, when Big 12 rivals UH and UT meet in football at TDECU Stadium on the Houston campus. The game already is a lock sellout with tickets in the upper deck commanding $141 per ticket on the secondary market. It will be UH’s first year in the big boy Big 12 and UT’s last go-around before heading to the SEC.

One last opportunity for lasting bragging rights.

That’s for a UH football game. At home. Where the Cougars typically have trouble packing half the house. For example, the Cougars will be hosting the Sam Houston Bearkats at TDECU Stadium a month earlier. Tickets for that game, the same exact seat going for $141 against UT, can be had right now … $17.

Yeah, there’s something special about UH getting the opportunity to face UT. In anything. Anywhere. And it’s been a long time since the two teams, once co-members of the Southwest Conference together, have met on the basketball court. A full decade, in fact. The last time they played was March 20, 2013 with the Cougars prevailing 73-72 in something called the College Basketball Invitational. The UH coach was James Dickey. UT was coached by Rick Barnes. Joe Young led the Cougars with 18 points. The Horns’ leading scorer was Julien Lewis with 28. UH finished that season with a 20-13 record. UT limped home at 16-18.

That was then, this is now. The UH-Miami game will air at 6:10 p.m. Friday on CBS with UH grad Jim Nantz calling the play-by-play. The game will alsO stream on Hulu +++. ESPN’s BPI (basketball power index) gives the Cougars a 90 percent chance of winning. We’ll take it.

The UT-Xavier game will follow at 8:45 p.m. on CBS. The Horns have a 70 percent chance of beating the Musketeers. If both chalks come through, they’ll meet Sunday afternoon with the game on CBS.

The Cougars have made six Final Four appearances: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021. The Horns have made three Final Fours, the last time two decades ago.

Here’s the only sure bet if UH and UT meet Sunday - get to your sports bar early if you want a seat. This could be memorable.

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