Los Angeles takes first of two games against Houston

Tensions high as Dodgers ride big inning to win against Astros

Astros Carlos Correa
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Carlos Correa was front and center for a dramatic game between Los Angeles and Houston

In a rematch of the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers arrived in Houston on Tuesday for the first of two games at Minute Maid Park. As expected, the rivalry found itself rekindled in an exciting matchup. Here is a quick recap:

Final Score: Dodgers 5, Astros 2.

Record: 3-2, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brusdar Graterol (1-1, 3.86 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-1, 4.15 ERA).

Correa drives in the first two runs

After both Framber Valdez and Walker Buehler recorded 1-2-3 first innings, they would not have as clean second innings. In the top of the second, Valdez allowed his first baserunner via a two-out walk, then allowed a single, but was able to get out of the inning unscathed. Buehler also had a two-out issue, a Carlos Correa solo home run, which put Houston ahead 1-0.

Correa would drive in another run in the bottom of the fourth, getting an RBI-single to bring in Michael Brantley, who had singled earlier in the inning, doubling the lead to 2-0 and ending Buehler's night.

Dodgers roar back with a five-run fifth

Valdez was still on the mound in the fifth, but after loading the bases in the fifth would be taken out as Enoli Paredes would enter with one out and the bases still full. Paredes would struggle, walking in a run, seeing another come in on an error by Alex Bregman to tie the game, then giving up back-to-back RBI-singles to put Los Angeles up 4-2.

Andre Scrubb would come in to make his MLB debut and hopefully stop the damage, but instead issued a four-pitch walk to walk in another run before getting a double play to end the half-inning, making it a 5-2 deficit for Houston.

Benches clear in the sixth

Scrubb would do much better in his first full inning, retiring the Dodgers in order in the top of the sixth, including two strikeouts. In the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers would send Joe Kelly to the mound, who was clearly out to send a message to the Astros.

After throwing a ball four well behind Alex Bregman, interfering with Michael Brantley's path to first base on a groundball, he would get a strikeout to retire the Astros, then entice a bench-clearing confrontation by antagonizing Houston on his way back to the dugout.

Astros can't answer, Dodgers get the win

Scrubb continued in the seventh and despite loading the bases was able to complete the inning and keep it a three-run game. Nivaldo Rodriguez was yet another Houston reliever to make an MLB debut, and he was able to work around a couple of hits to record a scoreless top of the eighth.

Rodriguez continued pitching in the top of the ninth and was able to erase a few runners for another scoreless inning. The Astros would be unable to add on to Correa's two runs earlier in the game, resulting in a loss and moving them to 3-2 on the season.

Up Next: Game two of this two-game set will get underway at 6:00 PM Wednesday. The Astros have still not named their starter, and will likely rely on a young or newly acquired arm to start or go with a bullpen day, while the Dodgers will have Dustin May on the mound.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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