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 NASCAR Cup Series heads for Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers 400. MIS is one of the fastest racetracks in the country, as cars are capable of reaching speeds of 201-205 miles per hour. Hopefully, we will see a safe race considering the speeds we see here. We will more than likely see a race that is vastly different from what we saw last here when the drivers utilized the draft to pass around this track. This year, the cars are less aero-dependent and will be much more spread out. The drivers will need to continue to manage their tires as they have been doing all year.

Last weekend at Indy, Tyler Reddick captured his second victory of 2022 in dramatic fashion. The race came down to numerous restarts where drivers would drive way too deep into the first corner and run into each other each time. This was the central theme of the race, as restarts pretty much decided everything. We saw drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney get swept up in wrecks in turn one. On the final restart, Ross Chastain decided he didn’t want to be a part of these shenanigans and took the access road that skipped turn one. This moved catapulted him to the lead with Tyler Reddick as the two battled for the lead in a two-lap shootout. When the dust settled, Reddick came away victorious and Ross Chastain was black flagged for shortcutting.

The finish of this race sparked a serious debate among drivers and fans alike about ditching the Indianapolis road course and returning to the oval in 2023. Personally, this doesn’t make any sense to me. While yes, turn one is difficult to maneuver, it’s mainly because drivers all decide to send it as deep as they can, not because of the racetrack configuration. It’s also a bit disingenuous as for years, drivers and fans have been saying they don’t want to see the oval and that the track is designed for IndyCar. If I had to choose, I would say NASCAR just stop going to Indy and go to the short track down the road at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. We have seen so many great races there, and I think the Cup Series would be perfect for that track. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR responds to this and what they decide to do for next season.

Kurt Busch will be out for the third consecutive week as he continues to recover from a concussion. This has been tough to hear about, and now there are legitimate concerns that he will not return to racing. There is a good chance however that 23XII could be saving him for the playoffs which are coming up.

For now, Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for Busch. In his two starts the young phenom has performed extremely well, finishing 16th at Pocono and 17th at Indy. It’s clear that this young man can drive these cars, the only problem is finding a place for him to run next season.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. By any other standard, the season that Truex is having has been great. Constantly up front, leading laps and just overall contending. Unfortunately for him, 2022 hasn’t been just any average season. With 14 winners and Truex not being one of them, he is on the playoff bubble even though he is fourth in points. While his playoff future maybe uncertain right now, there are some good racetracks he is going to where can easily get that first win, and Michigan is one of them. Over the last four races here, he currently has the highest average finish, the highest percentage of laps led, but no victories. I see that changing this week. Toyota and Gibbs have been fast this season as Truex’s teammates have all punched their tickets to the playoffs. Look for Truex to be next in line.

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