Houston stays alive

Carlos Correa's walk-off homer forces Game 6 in ALCS

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With a win under their belt by taking Game 4, the Astros moved on from avoiding being swept in the ALCS and shifted their focus to Game 5 as they try day-by-day to stay alive in the postseason and potentially advance to the World Series. With Dusty Baker betting on his bullpen and not starting Framber Valdez on short rest, he tried to set his team up to be better positioned for the final two games. First, they needed to survive one more game.

They would do just that, in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. The victory comes on a bullpen day for both teams, and keeps Houston in the hunt for their second World Series in franchise history.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3.

Series: TB leads 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly.

Losing Pitcher: Nick Anderson.

Teams trade early solo homers to start the bullpen day

Luis Garcia was who manager Dusty Baker turned to in a critical start in Game 5. He would have a perfect top of the first, then was immediately given a lead to work with thanks to a first-pitch home run by George Springer to lead-off the bottom of the inning.

Garcia worked himself into trouble in the top of the second, losing command of the zone and loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter, but stranded all three runners to end the inning. Blake Taylor would take over in the top of the third but would allow a game-tying solo homer against his first batter. He would get two outs before Houston moved on to Enoli Paredes to finish the inning.

Brantley puts the Astros ahead in the third

Houston would get that run back plus another in the bottom of the third, getting back-to-back hits by Josh Redick and Martin Maldonado to start the inning, setting up a two-RBI single by Michael Brantley to make it a 3-1 lead. Paredes continued on the mound to go as far as possible, erasing two walks for a scoreless top of the fourth, then returned in the fifth.

Randy Arozarena would cut the lead to one run against him in the top of the fifth, hitting a one-out solo homer to make it 3-2. Paredes would face one more batter, giving up a walk, before Andre Scrubb would be the next arm out of the bullpen. Scrubb finished the fifth, then came back for two more outs in the sixth, giving way to Brooks Raley, who came in to face the left-handed-hitting Brandon Lowe, who he would retire to end the inning.

Carlos Correa walks it off to force Game 6

Raley would get two more outs, retiring the first two batters of the top of the seventh before Josh James would come in to finish the inning. Still 3-2 in the top of the eighth, James would stay in the game, but Ji-Man Choi would start the inning with a solo home run to tie the game 3-3.

He allowed a single next but erased it with an impressive double play to empty the bases. James would come up limp after that play, though, and Houston would bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and get an inning plus. He got a strikeout to end the eighth before Houston's top of the order would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Pressly would get the four outs asked of him, working around a leadoff single in the top of the ninth for a scoreless frame. In the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Correa would play the hero, getting a walk-off solo home run to force Game 6, keeping the Astros alive another day.

Up Next: ALCS Game 6 between the Astros and Rays will be another early-evening game, with first pitch at 5:07 PM Central. While it hasn't been formally announced, it's expected to be a repeat pitching matchup from Game 1, with Framber Valdez on the mound for Houston and Blake Snell for Tampa Bay. The Astros will flip back as the visiting team for this game, and Game 7, if needed.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome