Houston pulled ahead late

McCullers Jr. deals, Astros pull out the win over Angels

Lance McCullers Jr. and Shohei Ohtani provided an exciting pitching matchup Tuesday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After watching the Angels come from behind to win the opener on Monday night, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Tuesday night to try and even the series to set up a chance to win it on Wednesday in the finale. After an enticing pitching matchup kept the game very close late into the game, Houston would pull ahead in the eighth inning to get the win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 19-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1)

Losing Pitcher: Aaron Slegers (2-1)

McCullers Jr. and Ohtani both impress

As expected, the two starting pitchers on Tuesday night provided most of the excitement in the game's early goings. Shohei Ohtani allowed just two hits and no runs over the first four frames, with Lance McCullers Jr. doing slightly better by allowing just one hit over the same span. The first run of the night came off the bat of Kyle Tucker, who launched an opposite-field solo home run to the Crawford Boxes to put the Astros in front 1-0.

That proved to be a critical hit, as that would be the only run scored through seven innings as both Ohtani and McCullers Jr. settled in to keep it a 1-0 game. McCullers Jr. returned in the top of the eighth hunting a complete-game shutout but would see the game tied on a one-out solo home run by Taylor Ward, though he would finish the inning without any more damage. That would be it for him, posting an excellent final line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 96 P.

Houston puts it away in the eighth

Ohtani's night would end at seven innings, with the Angels moving to their bullpen in the bottom of the eighth. Houston would take advantage, getting runners on base to set up Michael Brantley for a go-ahead RBI single. With two runners still on, Yuli Gurriel would provide the exclamation point on the inning, adding some major insurance with a three-run homer to extend the new lead to 5-1. Ryan Pressly would take over in the top of the ninth, getting a 1-2-3 inning to finish off the win to even the series, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Wednesday. Jose Urquidy (3-2, 3.51 ERA) will take the hill for the Astros, while Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.11 ERA) will start for Los Angeles.

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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