Falcon Points

Ranking the 5 biggest moves in a busy summer for Houston sports

Compilation by Brandon Strange

Someone asked me on Twitter if there has ever been a more active summer in terms of Houston sports teams both on and off the field. You would be hard-pressed to find one. Let's look at the five biggest moves this summer and grade them:

5) Texans go GM by committee, ship out Clowney for nothing

Texans Jadeveon Clowney Houston Texans/Facebook

The Texans botched their draft, then fired their GM search and botched that, leaving them with a "flatter" organization. It's also a dumber one. Mainly because of the "deal" they made to trade Jadeveon Clowney.

This is a move the Texans did not need to make, especially if they were going to go all-in on the other move on this list. Trading one of your best five players when you did not need to is frankly just dumb. Seattle might only get a year out of him, but then they would get a third round pick if he signs elsewhere, which is basically what they give up. Huge win for Seattle.

Grade: F.

4) Verlander's dominance

Justin Verlander pitches Game 1. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Justin Verlander cemented his Cy Young case with a no-hitter on Sunday in Toronto, striking out 14. Verlander is 17-5 with 2.56 ERA and 257 strikeouts. We are seeing a future Hall of Famer at his very best.

Grade: A+.

3) Astros additions

Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros

The Astros made a big splash at the deadline, acquiring Zack Greinke. While he has not been dominant yet as an Astro, he is one of the best in the business and the move bolstered the Astros World Series chance. In addition, the exciting young Jordan Alvarez was called up and all he has done is make a run at the Rookie of the Year award by hitting well over .300 with 22 HRs and 63 RBI in just 66 games. Throw in Aaron Sanchez's debut with a combined no-hitter and the Stros continue to be the best run organization in the city.

Grade: A+

2) Texans go all in on Tunsil

After the disastrous Clowney trade, the Texans shipped two No. 1s and a 2 to Miami for Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills. Tunsil is something the Texans have been desperate for ever since they shipped off Duane Brown for nothing - a legitimate, No. 1 left tackle with upside. The price was steep, but players like Tunsil are rarely available. He should make a huge difference. It also makes the Clowney trade worse, because if you are going all-in on the season, why don't you keep him?

Grade: B

1) Rockets acquire Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Rockets made a huge splash, acquiring former MVP Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul and a package of picks. While it may or not be a fit, putting Westbrook with Harden gives the Rockets an intriguing duo in the Western Conference. For sheer entertainment value, the Rockets get a good grade.

Grade: A-

The bottom line

The Texans and Rockets may never have another first-round pick, but if either team is successful, that will be forgotten. The Astros continue to be the gold standard by which all others are measured. Regardless, it has been one hell of an active summer. Now we will see how it all plays out when it counts.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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