Houston sits second in the division

Diamondbacks ride huge nine-run inning to win over Astros

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After their bats powered their way to a win in the opening game, Houston tried to secure the series win with a victory in Arizona on Wednesday Night. Here is a rundown of the middle game between the Astros and Diamondbacks:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 14, Astros 7.

Record: 6-5, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Robbie Ray (1-2, 9.45 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 9.22 ERA).

Astros jump out to early lead, Diamondbacks roar back with unreal inning

Houston wasted little time continuing where they left off the night before scoring runs against Arizona, getting after Robbie Ray in the second inning. Carlos Correa sparked things with a leadoff double before scoring on an RBI-single by Abraham Toro. Kyle Tucker scored two more runs in the next at-bat, crushing a two-run home run to give the Astros a 3-0 lead. Toro would drive in another run off of Ray in the top of the fourth, hitting a solo homer to extend the lead to 4-0.

After three perfect innings with the roof closed with eight of nine outs coming on groundouts, Lance McCullers Jr. ran into disaster in the fourth with the roof at Chase Field now open. After allowing the first hit of the night to Arizona, Kole Calhoun would hit a ball to the right-field fence, which would ricochet all back into center field, allowing him to complete an inside-the-park home run and cut the lead in half at 4-2.

Arizona would keep piling on, loading the bases to set up a bases-clearing triple to take a 5-4 lead, then an RBI-double to make it 6-4, still with no outs in the inning. After two outs, McCullers would allow one more run on an RBI-double before Dusty Baker would make the call to the bullpen. Nivaldo Rodriguez was the reliever who entered, but he would be unable to stop the bleeding, allowing an eighth run charged to McCullers and one of his own to make it 9-4. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.

Both teams trade blows, but Arizona holds on for the win

Now down five runs, the Astros tried to start chipping away to get back into it. George Springer helped, hitting a two-run home run in the top of the fifth to cut it to a 9-6 lead for Arizona. Rodriguez remained on the mound for Houston for two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and Arizona would push the lead right back to five-runs with a two-run home run of their own, making it 11-6. Brandon Bailey would enter and get the final out of the fifth.

Bailey continued for a scoreless sixth but would see the Diamondbacks hit a dozen on the scoreboard with a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh, extending their lead to 12-6. Yuli Gurriel got that run back in the top of the eighth, hitting a solo home run to trim the deficit to 12-7.

In the bottom of the eighth, another Houston debut would take place with Carlos Sanabria making his first major-league appearance out of the bullpen. He would allow a two-run home run to make it 14-7 before the Astros would come up empty in the top of the ninth, giving Arizona the win and tying up the series 1-1.

Up Next: The series finale between Houston and Arizona will be Thursday at 6:07 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.70 ERA) for the Diamondbacks going against Brandon Bielak (2-0, 1.69 ERA), making his first career start for the Astros.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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