EVERY-THING SPORTS

Why this version of the Rockets embodies the city

The Rockets have won 6-straight games. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Houston is a very diverse city and metropolitan area. It is home to the most diverse county in the United States (Fort Bend), more different ethnicities and types of foods outside any city not located on the East or West coasts. On any given day, you could encounter at least four or five different languages, or more. You can choose to eat from just about any kind of cuisine from any part of the globe, and it would be one of the better dishes you've had in that category.

Coming here from New Orleans in 2000, I was skeptical of the food scene here. Yet, here I am all these years later, and I'm still impressed. I can look up any type of food I want to try and have full faith that it'll be one of the more authentic experiences in said category. My favorite thing is talking to so many different types of people from around the globe. Getting to know the different cultures and backgrounds is exciting.

When you look at the makeup of the current Rocket's roster, you get those same feelings. The owner is a self-made billionaire who's a native of the Houston area and made his money in the hospitality business. The general manager is a guy who made his bones as a legal expert in the business department and found his way in the GM role at the right time. The head coach is the son of a former NBA player and head coach who waited over twenty years to get his first head coaching gig. All three of these guys took different paths to get to where they are right now. All three are examples of how taking different paths can lead to success.

When looking at the roster, there are similar stories of finding different paths to success. You have guys who were high lottery picks after being highly recruited NCAA players (John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins), then there are guys who worked their way into the league after toiling away on the European and other leagues around the world (PJ Tucker and Jae'Sean Tate). There's someone on this roster anyone in this city can relate to. Christian Wood is perhaps the team's best player. He was a guy who thought he'd be drafted high, went undrafted, and worked his butt off to get to where he's at now which is on the verge of making his first All-Star appearance.

This city is full of diverse and resilient stories of success and survival. When I look at this Rockets roster, I see some similarities. Not to say that any of these highly paid pro athletes have survived a Hurricane Harvey or anything, but there are stories of overcoming rough circumstances and making the best of a crappy situation to make yourself into a success. This city is covered in those types of stories and so is this Rockets roster. The Rockets are much easier on the eyes nowadays with their style of play. They hustle, play hard, share the ball, and don't have anyone with a huge diva attitude. They're more relatable and their style of play is more appreciated. The Rockets are currently above .500 for the season and working their way into securing a playoff spot. Who would've thought this was possible? No one, and that's another reason why their success is so relatable to many in this city.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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