Houston is back to .500 on the year

Yankees pull ahead late to secure series against Astros

The Astros have been outmatched by the Yankees in the first two games of the series. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a disappointing loss on Tuesday in the series opener, the Astros returned to the Bronx on Wednesday night to try and even the series and set up a rubber match on Thursday. Instead, the Yankees would pull ahead late to secure the series and drop the Astros back to .500 on the season.

Final Score: Yankees 6, Astros 3.

Astros' Record: 15-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jonathan Loaisiga (3-1)

Losing Pitcher: Brooks Raley (0-2)

Stanton homers again for Yankees lead before Houston responds

With rain falling in the early innings, both teams struggled to make contact with the ball at the plate, getting just one hit each in the first three innings. New York's happened to be a doozie, with Luis Garcia hitting DJ LeMaheiu with a pitch in the bottom of the third to bring Giancarlo Stanton to the plate who blasted his second home run in as many games to put the Yankees in front 2-0.

Houston responded in the top of the fourth, loading the bases on three straight singles to lead off the inning. Carlos Correa got the Astros on the board with an RBI groundout, and then they brought in two more to take a 3-2 lead on RBI doubles by Yuli Gurriel and Aledmys Diaz though an aggressive send of Carlos Correa potentially left a run off the board.

Yankees tie in the fifth, then go ahead late to secure the series

Garcia would do mostly well, with the home run the only runs he allowed. He pitched into the fifth, but with a two-out single followed by a walk, and rising pitch count, Dusty Baker would lift him in favor of Ryne Stanek. After yet another poor at-bat by the home plate umpire in this series, where there was an easy strike three to be called, Stanek would watch Stanton capitalize on the extra pitch by getting his third RBI, a double to tie the game.

The game stayed gridlocked 3-3, with the Yankees leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth against Stanek. Bryan Abreu tossed a scoreless seventh, erasing a leadoff single and walk with a strikeout and double play. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever in the bottom of the eighth but would record no outs while allowing the go-ahead run on two singles and a walk, leaving runners on the corners for Joe Smith.

Smith hit his first batter on the first pitch he threw, loading the bases, still no outs. A sac fly and yet another RBI for Giancarlo Stanton, bringing him to four on the night, would extend New York's new lead to 6-3 before Smith could finish the frame. Houston would come up empty in the ninth, moving them to 15-15 on the year and looking to salvage one game to avoid the sweep in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game series will be an afternoon start on Thursday, with the game getting underway at 12:05 PM Central. It'll be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.38 ERA), who was on the mound to eliminate the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, appearing for Houston opposite of former-Astro Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.43 ERA) now on the Yankees.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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