The comeback kids did it again. After a Didi Gregorius grand slam and Clint Frazier home run gave the visiting Yankees a 6-3 lead late in the game, the Astros struck back in the bottom of the 8th. Jose Altuve drew a one-out walk, stole second and third on the next two pitches, and scored on a Carlos Correa groundout to second. Evan Gattis followed with a towering 382-foot homer to left to cut the Yankees’ lead to one. Pitcher Dellin Betances walked the next two batters before closer Aroldis Chapman took over. Yuli Gurriel then grounded a 3-2 pitch down the left field line to score Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez and give the Astros the lead for good. Ken Giles picked up his 19th save of the season, as the game ended when the Yankees’ Brett Gardner took too large of a turn around first base and was gunned down, 7-6-3. Rookie Dayan Diaz picked up the first win of his major league career.
In other Astros news, rookie starting pitcher David Paulino was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and postseason for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone. Paulino started six games this season, with a 2-0 record and 6.52 ERA. The suspension is for 80 games and includes a stipulation for ineligibility in the postseason. While he could theoretically play in the team’s regular season finale, general manager Jeff Luhnow does not think that will happen.
On the first day of free agency, the Rockets made news by signing forward P. J. Tucker to a four-year, $32 million contract. Tucker is known for his defensive abilities; he averaged 6.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season for the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors. Tucker starred for the University of Texas in college.
The Rockets violated a clause in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement when they agreed to terms with center Nene on a four-year, $15 million contract Friday night. Nene would turn 38 in the fourth year of that deal, which brings up the Age 38 rule. This rule prevents players who turn 38 from signing a contract through that year. The Rockets reportedly countered with a three-year, $10 million offer, but Nene has not accepted and will explore his options in free agency.
In one of his first #WojBomb’s at ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets and Cavaliers were discussing a trade that would send Iman Shumpert to Houston for some non-guaranteed contracts. This would allow Cleveland to dump salary and give the Rockets a young wing who plays tough defense and knows head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system from his time with the New York Knicks.
Finally, Houston agreed to terms with its 2016 second round draft choice, Zhou Qi of China. Zhou is a 7-foot-2 center with 3-point shooting abilities. At just 21, Zhou is expected to play primarily for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as he adjusts to the NBA game.
The Dynamo’s road struggles continued with a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids Saturday night. Kevin Doyle got loose in the box in the 21st minute to give the Rapids an early advantage, but Erick “Cubo” Torres equalized in first half stoppage time to send Houston to the break tied up 1-1. Torres just reached the end of a cross and poked the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs. In the second half though it was all Colorado, as the Rapids’ Marlon Hairston scored twice to put the Dynamo away. The loss puts Houston in fifth place in the Western Conference table just over halfway through the season.