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Rockets and Astros might win again before Texans do

Deshaun Watson is not enough. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Last week I was pleading with Houston sports fans to stop crying. Despite the incessant crying, Houston sports fans have a lot to be happy about. The Astros just won a World Series. The Rockets are poised to make a run at another title. The Texans, on the other hand, are a different story.

Early season struggles be damned, the Astros have what it takes to be the first MLB team to repeat since the Yankees won three in a row from ’98-’00. The pitching staff is loaded. Although starter-heavy, I think the bullpen will get figured out eventually. The bats may be hit or miss for now. But a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Water always finds its level, and so will the Astros’ lineup.

The Rockets dropped Game 3 against the Timberwolves, but dominated in Game 4. Game 5 on Wednesday should be the swansong for Minnesota, and a moving on ceremony for the Rockets. They will get Luc Mbah a Moute back at some point, which will add to their rotation. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say so until proven wrong: this team can win an NBA title this season.

Which bring us to the Texans. This team has some serious flaws, despite giving the appearance of being a “sexy pick” to make some noise this year. They don’t have a first or second round pick in this year’s draft. Instead, they used those picks to trade out of a bad quarterback and back into a franchise quarterback. That said, none of this would be necessary had they done a better job in previous years. The free agent class they brought in only had one recognizable name/difference maker in safety Tyrann Mathieu. I’ve spoken with some credible sources who believe he may not be used as effectively here as he was in Arizona. Cornerback Aaron Colvin should provide decent depth at the position, but this unit needs more playmakers, not more role players. Moves along the offensive line may pan out, and they may not. Offensive line play is as much about talent as it is about chemistry and scheme. Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton, and Seantrel Henderson should improve the line, but an improvement isn’t saying much considering how abysmal they were previously.

Did I mention the Texans’ two most prolific pass rushers are coming off season-ending injuries? J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus shouldn’t be expected to return to form this season. Jadeveon Clowney is a monster off the edge, but could use some help from the aforementioned duo. When a team’s pass rush isn’t up to par and its secondary can’t cover a kindergartner with a king-sized blanket, that’s a recipe for disaster. This defense “fell from top 10 to not mentioned at all” to borrow a line from Jay Z.

That said, I firmly believe the Astros and Rockets will win championships again before the Texans win one. The Texans are in no shape to contend at the moment, and don’t have the necessary tools to build a winner this offseason. Maybe after the next couple offseasons, provided they use their draft picks and cap space wisely, people will begin to take the Texans seriously as a contender. Until then, the only hope in Houston sports for titles will lie in the Astros and Rockets.  

 

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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