Joel Blank: ESPYS will have a distinctive Houston flavor this year

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Joel Blank: ESPYS will have a distinctive Houston flavor this year
Jose Altuve is up for best male athlete. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If you’re a sports fan, one of the most difficult weeks of the year is on the horizon. Baseball is on its annual hiatus due to Tuesday’s All-Star game, there is no basketball to speak of except for the uneventful Summer League tournament, and NFL training camps don't open up for another 10 days.

For golf fans, the current major is the British Open, which means you either have to set your alarm for the middle of the night or rely on late night highlights. About the only prime time viewing option you have aside from the MLB All-Star game is the ESPY's on Wednesday night. Thankfully, Houston has a big presence this year as the Astros and Rockets are up for numerous awards. H-town has a shot to take home some serious hardware.

The Astros will be front and center, picking up nominations both as individuals and as a team, compliments of their storybook season and World Series Championship. George Springer is up for Best Championship Performance after taking home the MVP of the World Series. The team is up for Best Game, for their thrilling 10-inning Game 5 victory over the Dodgers. Jose Altuve is up for Best MLB player and Best Male Athlete and the team is also up for Best Team for all of last season.

Overall, that is quite a laundry list of nominees and you have to admit, they have a pretty good chance to take home several trophies when all is said and done. James Harden is also up for Best NBA Athlete, as well as Male Athlete of the Year. You have to believe that the team would have been up for a whole lot more had they found a way to pull out the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. Damn those hamstrings!

The interesting category for me is the Best Male Athlete Award, as you have two Houstonians in Altuve and Harden, as well as Tom Brady of the Patriots and Alex Ovechkin of the NHL's Washington Capitals. To me this should come down to Altuve and Ovechkin. Both have a great case to be made based on their franchise's title drought and the way they went about their business both individually and as a collective unit. Sure there was drama in the Stanley Cup and the Caps squashed the Cinderella story that was the Las Vegas Knights, but there is no denying Altuve and the Astros. Just looking at him, you have a soft spot for a guy that plays so big and looks so little.

Then you delve a little deeper and see that MVP, the laundry list of individual awards like Silver Slugger and Player of the Year, as well as statistics like another 200 hit season with 204, another batting title htting .346 and leading the American league in hits for the season. He was everything for his team from start to finish he deserves to be the Best Male Athlete of 2017. Don't get me wrong, Ovechkin was great, but Atuve just did more. Tune in to the ESPY's Wednesday night at 7 p.m. as see how all the local nominees fair and if you want to vote for your favorites, go to espn.com/espys and support your local jocks. With the sports world basially taking a Mulligan this week, what else do you have to do?

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Astros defeat White Sox, 4-1. Composite Getty Image.

Hunter Brown tossed six innings of one-run ball for his third straight win, backup catcher César Salazar had a pair of RBI singles and the Houston Astros topped the Chicago White Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Jake Meyers lined a pair of doubles to end an 0-for-17 slump and scored two runs to help Houston end a two-game slide. Mauricio Dubón drove in a run with a groundout and single to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Chas McCormick added a sac fly.

Andrew Benintendi hit a solo homer in the fourth for Chicago, ending Brown’s streak of scoreless innings at 16, a season high for an Astros pitcher.

Brown (4-5) scattered seven hits, struck out six and walked none in his sixth straight quality start. The 25-year-old right-hander, in his second season in Houston's rotation, lowered his ERA to 4.72 after a rough start.

Three relievers followed with three innings of one-hit ball. Josh Hader worked around a single in the ninth for his 10th save.

Salazar went 2 for 2 in his second game this season and first multihit game of his career. He entered in the third inning after starting catcher Victor Caratini left with discomfort in his left leg after he was thrown out at the plate.

Recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land on June 11, Salazar started the night with just three hits in 20 career at-bats in 14 contests.

White Sox starter Garrett Crochet (6-6) labored at times through six innings, allowing three runs and nine hits. The lefty struck out eight and walked one.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third after loading the bases with one out. McCormick scored from third on Dubón’s groundout when Chicago got a force at second, but couldn’t complete a double-play.

Houston made it 2-0 in the fourth on Salazar’s single.

Benintendi’s homer down the line to right in the bottom half cut it to 2-1.

After Meyers doubled in the sixth, Salazar followed with a grounder up the middle to make it 3-1.

Meyers scored again on McCormick’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: OF Kyle Tucker (right shin contusion) still has not started on-field baseball activities, manager Joe Espada said. “The recovery is slow, and we all hoped it would have been faster,” Espada said. The slugger had 19 homers when he was hurt on June 3 when he fouled a pitch off his shin against the Cardinals.

White Sox: Manager Pedro Grifol said RHP Mike Clevinger (right elbow inflammation) will need at least one more rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte. The 33-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and four hits in three innings on Tuesday. Clevinger went on the 15-day IL on May 28.

UP NEXT

Houston will send Spencer Arrighetti (3-6, 6.37) to the mound against Chicago’s Chris Flexen (2-6, 5.35) in the series finale Thursday afternoon.

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