DEEP RUN FOR COOGS?

Here's why Houston sports fans should savor Cougars' journey in NCAA Tournament

Go Coogs! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

There's a memorable scene in the movie Casino in which Robert De Niro's character, Sam Rothstein, is walking through the Tangiers Casino. In those opening moments his narrative highlights how he's now being admired & respected, the days of having a seedy reputation have "washed away" and he now has a fresh outlook and perspective. The same can be true next week as the University of Houston begins their journey, navigating the tournament field in Indianapolis. Imagine if over the next 2 1/2 weeks the city of Houston can wash away it's regrettable sports sins. A run to the Final Four would do just that.

The sin of allowing J.J. Watt to land in Arizona of all places. For the record, the Cardinals haven't actually won a playoff game in 5 years, and have only two playoff wins since January 2009. How about the sin of watching a watered down version of a previous championship caliber club in the Houston Astros? Astros fans, get ready for the growing pains of replacing Springer at the top of the lineup with Myles Straw whose on base percentage is going to be nothing short of dreadful. Speaking of dreadful, well, there's the Houston Rockets. Aside from a potential fire sale at the upcoming NBA trade deadline, they aren't relevant in the association any longer.

The best thing going right now in the city (as we attempt to drown out the Deshaun Soap Opera), are Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars. The administration knows exactly what it has, which is refreshing, recently rewarding Sampson with a contract extension that will keep him here through the 2026-27 season. For Sampson it's his 6th consecutive 20 plus win campaign, and throughout the state of Texas, the Cougars under his watch have won more games than any other D1 program, including Baylor who's been solid of late.

Assuming Sampson and his staff can keep his team under wraps in Indy, avoiding all the Steak and Shake handcrafted burgers and fries, (I personally like a side of the Chili Mac Supreme) they should advance with ease during the opening rounds. In recent days you've heard terms floating around campus such as "poised for a deep run." U of H is going to the Final Four, and during the magical ride the next few weeks, be sure to savor it, because for our city, this is the best it's going to get for a very, very long time.

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Houston gets back in the win column

Astros end six-game skid thanks to a gem by Greinke

Zack Greinke tossed a gem Saturday night. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the Mariners roared back Friday night to get a walk-off win over the Astros, dashing their hopes of ending their losing streak, Houston tried to even the series with a win on Saturday night with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke would do his part, throwing a terrific game, and the Astros would squeak out one run, which was enough to get back in the win column.

Final Score: Astros 1, Mariners 0

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

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Chris Flexen (1-1)

Plenty of hits, but only one run

Although the Astros were racking up hits against Chris Flexen, they had little to show for it. Eight different batters would notch ten hits against him, but the only time it amounted to a run was on a two-out RBI-single by Taylor Jones in the top of the fourth, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

Greinke spins a gem

Luckily for them, Zack Greinke was making it look like that would be enough. He cruised through the Mariners all night, allowing just four hits while giving up zero runs along with six strikeouts, one of which moved him past 2,700 on his career. He could have attempted to finish the complete-game shutout, but at 91 pitches after eight, Dusty Baker opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for the ninth. Greinke's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 91 P.

Houston finally ends their losing streak

With the high-leverage save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered to hold on to the one-run lead. He would do his job, finishing off the win for Greinke and putting an end to Houston's disappointing losing streak.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Sunday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will look to make a rebound from his disappointing first start with the Astros, while the Mariners will start Nick Margevicius (0-1, 7.04 ERA).

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