Houston has hit a rough patch

Astros lose fourth straight as Orioles complete sweep in Houston

Houston's offense came up short yet again against the Orioles on Wednesday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

After dropping the first two games of this series, the Astros looked to salvage a game against the Orioles to avoid a series sweep against one of the MLB's worst teams in terms of record. They would fail that mission, losing their fourth in a row against beatable teams in a disappointing fashion.

Final Score: Orioles 5, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 48-33, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Tanner Scott (3-3)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (6-5)

Disastrous first inning for Garcia

Thanks in part to a remarkably disparate strike zone by home plate umpire CB Bucknor, which would get pitching coach Brent Strom ejected, Luis Garcia had a very disappointing start to his night. After back-to-back walks to start the game, one of which easily could have been a strikeout, Baltimore would take advantage and put up four runs and make Garcia use 44 pitches on a two-RBI double, RBI single, and a sac fly.

Garcia would do well to rebound for three more innings, allowing just one more hit in his four frames of work. Houston was able to get on the board against Matt Harvey in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to RBI singles by Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker to cut the lead in half at 4-2. Brandon Bielak was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the fifth, and he erased a leadoff single to keep it a two-run game.

Houston drops fourth in a row

Cristian Javier came on in the top of the sixth, and he was able to work around a one-out single and walk to retire the side scoreless. He returned to get two more outs in the top of the seventh before issuing a walk that would prompt Dusty Baker to give Ryan Hartman, who moved onto the roster earlier in the day, his major league debut.

Hartman finished off the seventh but then allowed a solo homer to begin the top of the eighth to make it a three-run game before finishing the frame. With the score still 5-2 in the top of the ninth, Hartman returned for more work, erasing a two-out single to complete another inning. That score would go final as Houston would not rally, suffering their fourth-straight loss, including the three-game sweep by the Orioles.

Up Next: With this short three-game homestand over, the Astros will head back on the road for the rest of the week, picking up a four-game series with the Indians at 6:10 PM Central on Thursday. Framber Valdez (4-1, 2.11 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston in the opener, while J.C. Mejia (1-2, 4.94 ERA) is expected to start for Cleveland.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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