WHAT A WEEKEND

No matter who you rooted for, it was a great weekend for Houston sports fans

No matter who you rooted for, it was a great weekend for Houston sports fans
It was a big weekend for fans of Houston teams. Elsa/Getty Images

If you are a Houston sports fan, chances are this past weekend was one of the best in recent memory. No matter who you rooted for, you had something to celebrate. A look at the winners:

1) The Astros took the first two games of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park before raucous crowds on Friday and Saturday, beginning their defense of the 2017 World Series title. They wrapped up the series in Cleveland on Monday with a dominant 11-3 win.

2) The Texans? They beat fan rivals (if not real rivals) Dallas 19-16 on Sunday Night Football before a national audience. The win was their second in a row after an 0-3 start.

3) Fan of the Texas Longhorns? They are officially back. They knocked off previously unbeaten and arch-rival Oklahoma to take charge of the Big 12.

4) Texas A&M? They beat a ranked Kentucky team (yes, Kentucky is good at football this year) and moved back into the Top 25.

5) The Houston Cougars started the weekend off with a nationally televised win over Tulsa on Thursday night. After an abyamal start, they cranked it up in the fourth quarter and kept pace in the American Athletic Conference.

6) While the post-fight brawl got all the attention at the UFC card Saturday night, Houstonian Derrick Lewis stole the show before all that with a monster knockout. He also picked up a bunch of new fans with his funny, memorable postfight interview. Lewis could be in line for a heavyweight title shot after the win. 

So unless you are a Rice Owls fan (well, sorry to all six of you), you had a good weekend. 

In the grand scheme of things, it's not much. But for a city that is not exactly swimming in titles, we don't get too many weekends like this. The Astros' World Series win was the first in the franchise's 50-plus year history. The Rockets, while close in the last few years, have not won a title since 1995, which means fans have the same bragging rights as Cowboys fans do on their most recent title. (Quite simply, neither of you can brag about those anymore. If a team has not won a title since you were born and you are drinking age or older, it no longer counts. Sorry).

All that aisde, the Astros might be on their way to another title and will face the Yankees or Red Sox next (they vanquished both on the way to the title last year). The Texans are now 2-3 and only a game out of first in a suddenly mediocre AFC South. And chances are good your college team still has a lot to pay for, too. So it was a darned good weekend for Houston fan.

No matter who you rooted for.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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