Houston takes Game 1

Correa homers twice as Astros power past A's in ALDS Game 1

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With the two-game sweep of the Twins in the ALWC series, the Astros earned their spot into the divisional series. Their opponent in their ALDS, the AL West champions, the Oakland A's. However, with MLB's "bubble" in effect, Dodger Stadium was their home for the next three to five days. Here is a recap of Game 1:

Final Score: Astros 10, A's 5.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Blake Taylor.

Losing Pitcher: J.B. Wendelken.

Early, frantic scoring knocks both starters out early

The scoring started early in Game 1, and at a frantic pace. The A's broke the seal, getting their first baserunner against Lance Mccullers Jr. wit ha one-out walk in the bottom of the second, setting up a two-run home run by Khris Davis to take the early 2-0 lead. Sean Murphy pushed the lead to three with a solo homer to start the bottom of the third, putting the Astros in early trouble.

Houston responded quickly, though, getting a solo shot by Alex Bregman to lead off the fourth, followed by a Kyle Tucker single to set up a two-run bomb by Carlos Correa to tie the game 3-3. Houston started the fifth with back-to-back singles, knocking Chris Bassitt out of the game, but both runners would stay put.

Oakland continued attacking McCullers Jr, getting a go-ahead solo homer by Matt Olson in the bottom of the fourth. They threatened for more, getting runners on second and third with no outs, but would strand both. McCullers Jr. would come back out for the fifth, but after a leadoff single would prompt a visit by Dusty Baker, who would move on to his bullpen. Blake Taylor would enter and complete the inning, but not before allowing the runner to score on a sac fly, making it a 5-3 Oakland lead. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 3 HR, 75 P.

Astros put up four in the sixth

Down two runs, the Astros were able to get an extended inning in the top of the sixth with Josh Reddick reaching base on a two-out error. That spurred a rally by Houston, who would get four-straight hits, including an RBI-double by George Springer, a go-ahead two-RBI single by Jose Altuve, then an RBI-single by Michael Brantley, giving Houston a 7-5 lead before the dust settled.

After Taylor finished the fifth, Enoli Paredes was next out of Houston's bullpen and tossed a perfect bottom of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa hit his second home run of the day, extending the lead to 8-5. Paredes stayed in the game for the bottom of the inning, retiring three more Oakland batters in order.

Houston takes Game 1

Cristian Javier took over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth to try and keep the Astros in front heading to the ninth. He would do his job, erasing a leadoff walk to keep it a three-run game. Houston tacked on insurance in the top of the ninth, getting an RBI-single by Carlos Correa, his fourth run driven in on the day, and a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel, making it a five-run lead at 10-5. Even though it was no longer a save situation, the Astros still brought in Ryan Pressly in the bottom of the ninth, who retired Oakland 1-2-3 to finish off the victory.

Up Next: Game 2 of this ALDS will get underway on Tuesday at 3:37 PM Central, again from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Oakland will be the home team and will send Sean Manaea to the mound, while the Astros as visitors will start Framber Valdez.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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