Houston sits second in the division

Diamondbacks ride huge nine-run inning to win over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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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5 questions on the John Wall trade

The Rockets made a big move. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets point guard carousel continued to spin Wednesday night, as the Woj bomb-iest of Houston-related Woj bombs erupted in the Space City:

For the third year in a row, the Rockets will begin the season with a new point guard, in an attempt to finally find someone that can play alongside James Harden. Let's take a look at how the Rockets got to this point, and what it means moving forward.

What led to the trade?

Russell Westbrook simply wanted out. Westbrook is the type of player that needs to be the number one ball handler and that simply wasn't ever going to happen on a James Harden led team. Other reports cited Westbrook's frustration with the lack of accountability and casual atmosphere within the locker room. Ultimately if anyone was going to be moved between Harden and Westbrook, it was always going to be Westbrook.

Why John Wall?

This one is another fairly straightforward answer: they both have relatively similar contracts. Each is making an absurdly overpriced $40 million this season, and both were disgruntled with their current team. Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone and Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard tossed the idea around a few weeks ago, but couldn't find a deal they liked. It was reported that discussions resumed Wednesday afternoon and within a few hours the deal was done in an almost one-for-one swap.

How does Wall fit?

This is a little more complicated because it's not exactly known what head coach Stephen Silas' game plan is. It's also difficult to predict whether or not Harden will still be on the roster when the season starts. But let's assume that Harden takes the court for the Rockets and that Silas' system resembles something similar to what we've seen in Houston for the past few years. In that case, Wall would be a slight upgrade to Westbrook. Westbrook is more athletic than Wall, but when healthy Wall was no slouch. In addition he's a much better defensive player and has much better court vision than Westbrook. Westbrook's assists were usually a bailout after attacking the lane with his head down, while Wall is more likely to set up a teammate.

This isn't to say that Wall doesn't need the ball though. He's fairly ball dominant, but not nearly as much as Westbrook. Harden proved last season that he's capable of effectively playing off the ball if necessary, so it seems like a better fit from a distribution rate alone. If they can find that sweet spot like they did with Chris Paul and stagger the lineups so that each star gets their own time to create, there's potential for an improved Rockets team more reminiscent of their 2018 run than the past two years.

What are the best and worst case scenarios?

The worst case is that the Rockets were sold a lemon. Wall has potential to be an upgrade, but comes with huge risk. He last took the court in 2018, where he was sidelined with a knee injury. He subsequently ruptured his Achilles in an accident at his home while recovering from the knee injury, forcing Wall off the court for almost two years. It's possible an extremely unfortunate Wall reinjures something and completely derails the machinations of the trade. Even if he's recovered fully, it will take time to get him up to game speed which could frustrate Harden on a team that can't afford a slow start in their stacked conference. Harden has managed to cultivate drama with just about every co-star he's played with, so there's no reason to assume this attempt would go any better.

The best case scenario is that Wall arrives ready to play team basketball and resembles the better part of his pre-injury form. Wall and Harden buy into Silas' new system, space the floor, and take turns carving up the lane with dribble drives and kick outs to players who can actually hit from distance. This version of the Rockets could potentially be a 3-seed in this year's Western Conference.

Who won the trade?

At the moment the Rockets. Not only did they remove at least one of their locker room distractions, but they also gain a first round pick. If Wall can stay healthy and Silas can keep both stars happy, this team should be a lot more fun to watch than last season's clunker.

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