HARVEY RELIEF

Denver Broncos star returns home to Houston to help with Harvey efforts

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders recently touched down in Houston to contribute to hurricane recovery efforts. Marcy de Luna

Story originally appeared on Culture Map/Houston.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders recently touched down in Houston to contribute to hurricane recovery efforts.

The Texas-native, who played high school football in Bellville, and college football at Southern Methodist University, has family and a residence in the Bayou City. Thus, the destruction caused by Harvey hit home for the two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 50 Champion, where he was the leading receiver in Denver's win over Carolina.

According to the Denver Post, Sanders solicited at least $40,000 from his Broncos teammates through the Emmanuel Sanders Foundation to help with relief efforts, with part of the funds going towards 10,000 diapers that were donated to local families in need. Another portion went to food, water, and supplies for Houstonians.

Sanders flew to Houston on a bye week to contribute another $10,200 of the money raised to the Houston Community ToolBank. The tool lending program, a nonprofit organization, puts high-quality tools in the hands of volunteers who are working to repair homes and roofs, as well as restore public spaces.

During his trip home, he met with the media and toured the ToolBank’s facility to see first-hand where the funds are going. “It was important for me to show up and show my face and see who was going to be handling it (the donated funds)," he said. "Now that I’ve seen it, I know that it’s going to a great place and a great cause. I like what the ToolBank is doing, it’s amazing.”

Sanders told reporters it’s been four months since he was last home and was out of town when Harvey hit. He recalled watching the devastation on TV and feeling helpless. “It looked like it was Photoshopped. I thought, ‘That can’t be I-10. That can’t be 59. How is that possible?’ It was definitely devastating to see,” he said.

Sanders also noted that he was grateful to have come out nearly unscathed from the hurricane. "My family came out well. My house got a little leakage in the roof … other than that everybody is good. God is good.”

But Sanders suffered his own misfortune upon returning to Denver. He sprained his ankle late in the third quarter of the Broncos' 23-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday and will miss this weekend's game against the San Diego Chargers.

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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