The Pallilog

Injuries mount for Astros, but they should be just fine with a less than daunting schedule ahead

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Despite Jose Altuve's setback, George Springer's zinged hamstring, and Carlos Correa's rib breaking massage, while the Astros' offense will suffer in the coming weeks the team should hold up fine. After this weekend's three game series at Oakland, the schedule softens dramatically with four games at the sunken Mariners then three vs. the inept Orioles. Those series are followed by a two game quickie with the Brewers, then six more games vs. losing teams: three vs. Toronto, three at Cincinnati. The Astros prevailing strength is pitching, a strength that remains mostly intact. The loss of Collin McHugh shouldn't be considered major.

Good thing the big league pitching has been generally excellent because the picture has been ugly this season for several of the Astros top pitching prospects. Corbin Martin pitched well to get a first crack at the big leagues, but after an exciting debut he has been poor in three consecutive starts. The universally heralded Forrest Whitley was blasted in five straight AAA outings, ballooning his earned run average to 12.21 (not a typo-12.21) and pushing the Astros to shut him down with no specific injury cited, just shoulder fatigue. After 24 and one third innings pitched. Last year Whitley spent two different stints on the injured list and those came after the start of his season was delayed 50 games because of a PED suspension. He doesn't turn 22 until September so has time to get things straightened out. But by the time they're 22 most super phenom pitching talents are pounding the door earning entrance to the majors. After Whitley and Martin, J.B Bukauskas is the Astros next most touted hurler. He takes a 7.27 ERA with AA Corpus Christi into the weekend. Cionel Perez is at 6.44 at Round Rock. A tier lower on the prospect totem pole, Rogelio Armenteros is at 5.73.

Dallas Keuchel figures to finally sign somewhere next week. With draft pick compensation removed he'll have multiple contenders as suitors.

Charlie Morton is 6-0 with a spiffy 2.54 ERA for the Rays.

Finally, Finals

The NBA Finals are finally underway. Your interest level on a scale of 1-10 scale? Should be high! Especially with Toronto solidly winning game one.

Golden State is playing to further burnish its all-time greatness stature. Even embittered Rockets fans must acknowledge the Warriors play one of the most entertaining styles ever, with Stephen Curry as their most important player and one of the more compelling players ever. However, while the Warriors were sizably favored to start the series, their one point underdog status for game one reflects that this no way is an inevitable re-coronation.

The Raptors are likely better than any of the LeBron James Cavaliers teams that played the Warriors the last four years. Kawhi Leonard isn't quite as great as peak LeBron, but he's in the arena. The Cavs' top win total over their four season Finals run was 57. The Raptors won 58 games this season with Kawhi sitting out 22 of the 82 regular season games. Last season the Cavs won 50 as LeBron played in all 82.

A healthy Leonard for the Raptors and if Kevin Durant is not to play, yes the trophy could very well wind up north of the border.

I wonder how many of the Rockets will watch how much of the series. The Rockets have thrust themselves into a state of flux, though it should be remembered that again this season they gave Golden State more of a challenge than any other Western Conference opponent.

An interesting Rockets' offseason is under way. Owner Tilman Fertitta "promising" championships. In some combination Fertitta and General Manager Daryl Morey have taken a hatchet to Mike D'Antoni's coaching staff. D'Antoni basically made public his desire for a contract extension and then when not greeted super receptively, broke off talks.

Reportedly the Rockets have interest in hiring Tyronn Lue as an assistant coach. That would be quite the interesting turn of events. Lue would not be a D'Antoni hire. The scenario would then clearly exist in which the Rockets and D'Antoni wind up parting ways with Lue winding up head coach.

How would that play with James Harden? Will Harden and Chris Paul get back to being basketball besties? Or is that rendered moot if the Rockets can find a taker for the anvil-heavy three seasons 124 million dollars left on Paul's contract? Will Morey have a much better offseason than he did last year (not the highest of bars to clear)?

That's the summer ahead, As the Rockets Turn.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Very slim pickings for athletes named June. The best, former linebacker Cato June. He's also quite possibly the best athlete named Cato (otherwise it's Kelvin?) 2. Another week of OTA non-news for the Texans. That means no notable injuries. 3. Best Canadian cities: Bronze-Vancouver Silver-Montreal Gold-Toronto


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Luis Garcia played his part in a pitcher's duel with Carlos Rodon on Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive offensive onslaught to overpower Chicago in game one of this series, the Astros entered this second of four games hoping to keep their momentum going. After an impressive pitcher's duel left the game tied late into the game, Houston would edge out the win with a big walk-off in the ninth.

Final Score: Astros 2, White Sox 1

Astros' Record: 41-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Crochet (2-3)

Garcia matches Rodon in a pitcher's duel

Both starting pitchers were very effective, save one inning, in their respective seven innings of work. For Luis Garcia, he had his struggles in the top of the first to start the game, allowing a one-out double and single to put runners on second and third, setting up an RBI single to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.

He limited the damage to that one run, both in that inning and the rest of his night, as he would follow that with six straight scoreless frames. Once he found his groove in the fourth, he would retire 12 of 13 batters he faced over that span to get through seven one-run innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

For Houston, it took until one out into the fifth inning to get a hit and their first baserunner against Carlos Rodon. That sparked an opportunity to grab a lead, as they would go on to load the bases still with one out but would get just one run out of it with a two-out RBI walk by Martin Maldonado to tie the game up 1-1.

Astros walk it off in the ninth

Ryne Stanek was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the eighth, erasing a one-out walk for a scoreless inning to keep things gridlocked. Still in a stalemate in the top of the ninth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and keep it tied to set up a potential walk-off. He was perfect, striking out Chicago 1-2-3 to send it to the home half.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got the winning run on base by hitting a one-out single. That brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who got the walk-off hit, roping a ball into the right-field corner deep enough for Gurriel to hustle from first to home to win it for Houston, 2-1.

Up Next: Now having won five in a row, the Astros will try to lock up this series in game three of four on Saturday at 6:15 PM Central. Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51 ERA) will try to get a win for the White Sox, while Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his 2021 success for Houston.

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