Every-Thing Sports

Houston sports: A song of love and apathy

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The Rockets lost to the Warriors at home in game six of the Western Conference semifinal round despite Kevin Durant being out. Durant left game five towards the end of the third quarter with a calf strain. No game in that series was decided by more than six points. To say they pissed away another golden opportunity in consecutive postseason runs would be an understatement. The team is married to a couple bad contracts which severely limits what they can do to improve, but at least they have a former league MVP in the fold to keep things interesting. After all, this team has only had two losing seasons in the last 20 to 30 years or so.

The Astros broke the curse of pro sports teams in this city not winning any titles couple years ago. Although it took this fanbase enduring several losing seasons, many of which the organization boldly claimed they weren't even trying to produce a winner, the fans were eventually rewarded with a World Series win. Not only that, but this team is built to contend for many years to come in the near future. Fans may have bandwaggoned their allegiance to this team after seeing them win, but you can't blame them for wanting to support a team that has gone from laughingstock to model of consistency.

The Texans finally found the most important piece to building a winning franchise when they moved up to draft Deshaun Watson. Before, they were a team in which very few outside of this city believed in. After drafting Watson, the feeling remains the same amongst those not considered hardcore Texan fans because they don't believe in the front office or ownership to lead this team to anything other than mediocrity. The Texans' fans will continue to support this team no matter what because it went through a period of not having an NFL franchise. The fan and ownership relationship is borderline abusive because ownership knows the fans won't leave, so they continue to act as if the fans don't matter.

Can you see now what I meant in the title? Part of my inspiration came from this FaceBook post by a good friend and mentor Craig Shelton. It was the best description of why Houston sports fans still feel love and appreciation for the Rockets and Astros despite any shortcomings they may have, but have skepticism towards the Texans.

When you look at the way things have fallen for the three different franchises, there's no reason why all three can't consistently compete for championships every year. The love and support the Texans get despite constantly letting this city down year after year is why I described it as abusive. Meanwhile, the Rockets can't even get a full house before tipoff of major games and the Astros play in front of a less than capacity crowd even when one of the premier MLB teams is in town during the week and sometimes on weekends. Yet the Texans will have sold-out games and thousands more tailgating for a Thursday night game against any random NFL team simply because it's an NFL team.

I sincerely hope one day that all three franchises will bring consistent winners to this city. The fans have been through enough. They've stuck by these teams, mainly the Texans, despite not being given a glimmer of hope. It would be nice of the Texans to return the favor and bring home a Lombardi Trophy for their fiercely loyal fans to go with the Larry O'Briens and Commissioner's Trophy the Rockets and Astros respectively have delivered already.

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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