Houston gets back in the win column

Kyle Tucker's big night helps fuel Astros to win over Angels

Photo by Rich Schultz / Getty Images

After a tense two-game series against the Dodgers in Houston earlier in the week, the Astros made their first trip on the road, starting with the opener of a three-game series against the Angels in Los Angeles on Friday night. Here is how that game went:

Final Score: Astros 9, Angels 6.

Record: 4-3, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brandon Bielak (2-0, 1.69 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Matt Andriese (0-1, 4.91 ERA).

Astros jump in front with big second inning

After a scoreless first inning, the Astros had their first chance at runs in the top of the second. They loaded the bases with one out, and Kyle Tucker would drive in two with a two-RBI double to put Houston out front 2-0. Still with one out, George Springer came to the plate with the bases loaded again and was able to work a walk to bring in another run. Jose Altuve followed, and he beat out a double-play to drive in another, extending the lead to 4-0.

Both teams go back and forth, ending McCullers Jr's night at after four innings

After getting through the first two innings scoreless, Lance McCullers Jr. ran into trouble in the bottom of the third, giving up a walk and single to set up an RBI-single to get the Angels on the board. Los Angeles would load the bases with two outs, but McCullers Jr. would get out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.

Kyle Tucker helped get the lead back to four runs at 5-1 in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff single, stealing second, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI sac fly by George Springer. However, the Angels answered right back with a big inning in the bottom half, getting an RBI-double and two-run homer off of McCullers Jr. to cut the lead to 5-4. He would finish the inning, but at 91 pitches, that would be the end of his night, making his final line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.

Both teams go back and forth, but Houston holds on

Alex Bregman led off the top of the fifth with a double, moved to third on a Michael Brantley single, then scored on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel to make it a 6-4 lead. Brandon Bielak, who made a great debut against Seattle on Monday, was first out of the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth and worked around two walks for a scoreless inning.

He returned for another scoreless frame in the sixth, then the Astros added to their lead in the top of the seventh, loading the bases to set up a two-RBI single by Kyle Tucker, bringing his total to four on the night and expanding the advantage to 8-4. Bryan Abreu took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh but would face only three batters, getting a strikeout while walking two. Enoli Paredes would finish the inning, but not before allowing a run to make it 8-5.

Paredes came back out for the bottom of the eighth, and despite allowing another run to come across to make it 8-6 would get a much-needed double play to send the game to the ninth. In the top of the ninth, the Astros were able to load the bases for Jose Altuve, who added an RBI-groundout insurance run to make it 9-6. Andre Scrubb would come in for the save opportunity and preserved the three-run lead for the Houston win.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set between Houston and Los Angeles will be Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Griffin Canning for the Angels going against Zack Greinke for the Astros. Greinke will try to improve upon his first start of the year in which he was only able to go 3.1 innings while allowing three runs.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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