BARRY LAMINACK

Hard Knocks: It's become easy to root for Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is becoming a star on Hard Knocks. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

To borrow a phrase from my grandfather:

“DADGUMMIT”!

Dadgummit Hard Knocks! Stop making me like players/coaches that I don't want to like!

In 2015 it was Bill O’Brien.

Last year it was Jameis Winston.

This year?

Baker Mayfield.

Before I watched this season’s Hard Knocks, Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns I wasn’t a big Baker Mayfield guy. Maybe it was because he reminded me (almost too much) of Johnny Manziel, both on and off the field. Maybe I was letting my Aggie fandom, and thus my dislike for OU, cloud my judgment? Whatever the reason, I have never felt invested enough to see him succeed...until now.

I have to admit that after seeing him on Hard Knocks these past few weeks, and getting a peek into what he’s like on and off the field, I’m actually rooting for the guy to succeed. Sure it might be the magic of editing, but to me he's checking all the boxes of a guy you would root for.

Wants to win, no matter what? Check.

Plays the game “the right way”? Check.

Tough, smart and ultra-competitive? Check, check, and check.

So, will this love affair last?

Probably not.

I'm already back to not caring about Jameis Winston, and if you’ve listened to my show at all you know I’m not the biggest fan of Bill O’Brien (especially when it comes to him dealing with reporters).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go press my orange and white number 6 jersey.

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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