Northern Exposure

Oh yeah, the Astros made a trade with the Blue Jays, too

Oh yeah, the Astros made a trade with the Blue Jays, too
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So July 31, 2019 will be going down as one of the most exciting dates in Astros History. This day will be enough to shut up the haters because #TakeItBack is becoming more possible by the minute. Unless you lived under an I45 bridge, you knew today was the MLB trade deadline. The Astros had been fairly quiet, and fans were growing impatient; to the point that when Marcus Stroman was traded to the Mets, they were trying to justify trading for Trevor Bauer. While they managed to nail down yet another ace to bolster their pitching rotation in Zack Greinke, the Astros trade that really got my attention was the one between the Astros and Blue Jays.

I have been a Blue Jays fan since I was a child growing up in the yellow prairies of Alberta. Yes, I do own a Joey Bats jersey. The start of the millennium marked my move to the great state of Texas, and I have been following the Astros since my move (Big Puma, anyone?). How could I not when the Juice Box is literally 25 minutes away? So, today took an interesting turn when the Blue Jays traded Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini to the Astros for nothing but Derek Fisher. I painfully reminisced over Sanchez's starts (or lack thereof) the past few seasons. He has only pitched in 51 games since the 2017 season. Finger injuries have plagued him; from a finger caught in a falling suitcase in 2017 to being pulled out of a game for a broken finger nail this season. Hand injuries are Sanchez's kryptonite so it was hard to wrap my mind around where he would help improve a pitching rotation that had just added Zack Greinke. Sanchez's last couple of starts have been a bit reminiscent of his 2016 season. His July 28th game against the Tampa Bay Rays had his most exciting start where he allowed no runs to be scored until the 5th inning and had 10 strike outs. Sanchez should not pitch for more than 4 or 5 innings because the exhaustion can clearly be seen in his demeanor on the mound. Maybe it is time for Sanchez to take on a relief role on a team that has the almighty wizard that is Brent Strom.

Joe Biagini, is admittedly, a player I have been indifferent to. He has a 3-1 record but struggled in his outing against the Royals. Looking at his stats for his short 4-year career, this is his second-best season. Stepping back and taking a look at this trade, it is hard to see how the Astros got away with only sending Derek Fisher for Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. I have heard various comments on Derek Fisher but per Ross Atkins, he is confident in his level of play and expected to provide depth, however Fisher is a left fielder and currently that position is being dominated by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All I can say to Ross Atkins is, bless your heart.

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Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

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