HARRIS COUNTY-HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

When it comes to attendance, nothing about Houston is average

Astros attendance is up over last year, where the season ended in a title and parade. Getty Images

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

When we saw the stories, they honestly sounded like fake news.

Major League Baseball is worried. Attendance is down. Lowest numbers in 15 years.

It didn’t make much sense to us here in Houston where fans are streaming the Minute Maid every home stand. And definitely not when the numbers prove that attendance this season for our  defending World Champion Houston Astros is actually up 22 percent over last season.

Then we noticed the asterisk. Average attendance.

And, well, Houston these days just isn’t average.

Call it #HoustonStrong or the road to the playoffs. Then add this little tidbit – the only other MLB teams bucking that average 8.6 percent downturn with positive numbers? Houston’s playoff rivals – the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Three of the four have at least 62 wins at the All-Star break and the fourth – the Mariners – are at 58. And, yes,100-win seasons could be on the horizon.

Here, we crowd into Minute Maid to see which player is going to wow us on any given night. Will it be Alex Bregman with the walkoff? Or maybe George Springer or Jose Altuve? We can’t get enough of our Boys of Summer who are on pace for a total attendance of 2.9 million this year.

And those ring and bobble head giveaways? Just a little frosting on another summer of delight.

Honestly, the Astros are on center stage right now, but Houston has morphed into one great sports town. Forget those dog days of lost seasons and fan apathy. Houston sports are back.

Focus on an 82 percent increase in Astros’ attendance since 2012 or the Houston Texans selling out season tickets. Or the Rockets rocking Toyota Center all season.

And, of course, the future.

As forgettable as last year’s Texans’ season was, attendance was just down slightly. And the upside – they’re ranked 17th in the league in attendance -- is tremendous.

Now, the possibilities of what a healthy Deshaun Watson could do for a full season is enough to pull you in, right? Add in DeAndre Hopkins, injury comebacks by  J.J. Watt and D’onta Foreman and . . . well, pretty nice dreams of a great season, right?

Yes, the Rockets lost more than anyone thought this offseason and the battle for Carmelo Anthony is nearing an end, but MVP James Harden and Chris Paul will be back to make another run at Golden State. That’s enough right there to keep us coming back.

Soccer is growing with the Dynamo and Dash and the Sabercats are about to break ground on a rugby stadium. And with fall around the corner, nothing says Texas – and Houston – like high school and college football where Friday and Saturday night lights are a tradition like no other.

But the best draw in the city? As solid as the season totals are for Houston’s three major professional teams, there’s one sporting event that blows them away every year – the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

In those short three weeks of saddle-bronc riding, roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and the carnival have drawn more than 2.4 million total attendance each of the last two years.

Like we said, there’s nothing average here. We learned a long time ago to never underestimate the hearts of our champions.

#HoustonStrong

 

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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