FALCON POINT

Fred Faour: Observations on the Rockets, Derby and more

James Harden and the Rockets will be playing the Warriors soon. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

To the surprise of no one, the Rockets took a 3-1 lead in their series with the Jazz with a grind-it-out, wire-to-wire win Sunday night in Utah. Chris Paul took control with his midrange jumpers, scored 27 points and the Rockets are one inevitable win from what we have all been waiting for -- a series with the Warriors. 

There really is not much left to say about this series. The Jazz had a nice season, and should be happy to get this far. But they are simply not in the same stratosphere as the Rockets, who did not play all that well Sunday night, yet still did the Jazz in their own barn. 

Consider this: The Rockets shot just 42 percent -- 26.3 percent on 3-pointers -- and turned the ball over 13 times. They played a Jazz-style game, and still they coasted to a 13-point win. Their defense carried the day, and Utah simply does not have the weapons to compete with the Rockets in a seven-game series. The Rockets should close this out in five and we finally get what has been inevitable for months -- Rockets-Warriors for the whole thing. 

Derby daze

If you followed us leading up to Saturday's Kentucky Derby, you did not win money. But you did see a historic performance from Justify. He survived ridiculous early fractions, and accomploished something that had not been done since 1882 -- won the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. His trainer, Bob Baffert, compared him to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and the incredible Arrogate afterwards. He might even be better than those two monsters. To win the Derby in just his fourth start is incredible.

Our horses did not have much excuse. Bolt D'Oro chased the hot pace, then wilted when the real running started in the worst performance of his career. Combatant should have had the perfect setup, but he did not fire either. Enticed had a world of trouble -- like about 10 other horses -- and never had a real shot. 

As we move to the Preakness, Justify looks very tough to beat. We will be trying to make money off exactas and trifectas with long shots behind him. One of the oddities of the Derby is with 20 horses, you will always have at least six or seven that get taken out due to traffic. Saturday's race eliminated even more than that. That will give us some good prices on legitimate contenders. But barring something weird, we are probably looking at another Triple Crown winner. Horses make their legacy by accomplishing special things, and what this horse did Saturday could not be done. On a side note, it was great meeting so many blitzers on raceday. Nothing better than getting a chance to meet fun people. We did not win, but expect us to bounce back in a big way two weeks from now.

Stop being jerks, please

I am going to dive into this with more detail later in the week, but the inner city is really growing when it comes to the bike community. As such, car drivers need to be more aware and considerate. But it goes both ways; cyclists need to do the same. We did a ride on Sunday, and many of the cyclists were frankly inconsiderate jerks who almost caused several issues. Stay tuned to SportsMap for more details later in the week.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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