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3 jump-out-the-gym reasons you should be watching the young gun Rockets

3 jump-out-the-gym reasons you should be watching the young gun Rockets
Get ready for a high-flying season! Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

"Light the fuse" is the Rockets' marketing slogan for this season. Teams come up with one of these slogans every year in order to build a campaign around said slogan in order to sell tickets and merch. Realistically speaking, this fuse may take a while to burn and pay off. However, the future is bright enough to have positive hope. There are a few things to look at and look forward to right now. Let's take a look and a few things to key in on this preseason that may lead to some things to look forward to in the upcoming season:

The new backcourt: Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green are the future in the backcourt for this team. KPJ was a steal in a trade last season from the Cavs. He had several moments last season, including a 50 point game, that warranted him getting a second chance in Houston despite the rocky start to his career in Cleveland. Green is the hot shot number two overall pick with unlimited potential. He's a scorer who needs to develop and unlock parts of his game that haven't been developed yet. These two guys are the Batman and Robin of the Rockets' future. Watching how they play together and how their chemistry is building will give a glimpse into the future of what this team can possibly do.

Supporting cast: Christian Wood is seen as one of the building blocks for this young team, but rumors of his poor attitude coupled with the known fact that he wants a max extension make him a candidate to either be traded, or not re-signed. Alperen Sengun (the second of the four first round picks taken in this past draft) makes Wood somewhat expendable if he can develop his game and adjust to the NBA. The Turkish rookie has the skill set most teams are looking for from their bigs nowadays (shooting, passing, rebounding). Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba were the other two first rounders. Christopher has a chance to be a scoring spark off the bench, while Garuba can be a defensive presence. Jae'Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr are two holdovers from last year that look to figure prominently in the future of this team.

The rotation: An underestimated part of watching preseason basketball is seeing what guys will be in the regular season rotation. Most teams will use 8-10 guys every game. Preseason gives the coaches a chance to see who works well together and which guys deserve to start, come off the bench, the roles they'll play, and who gets more minutes. Lineups and rotations of course can change. Minutes will be dictated by who has the hot hand and matchups so they'll vary from night to night. One thing that stays consistent will be the group of guys getting the most playing time.

The Rockets have a very young team. They'll be fun to watch because of their overall athletic ability to produce highlights. Will they threaten for a playoff spot? Most likely they won't, unless it's one of the last play-in spots. This will prompt most casual fans to drop. I'd encourage them to stay. This young group seems to be having fun together. If they enjoy each other this much and can build & grow together, it'll make them the next up and coming, must-watch team in the league. I say watch and get to know these guys now, rather than looking to hop on the bandwagon after it gets rolling.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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