Tytus Howard and Matt Kalil remain out for the Texans but get success from their fill-ins

4 observations from Texans practice Aug. 20

@EdClarke03/Eddie Clarke

If you missed the observations from Monday you can find them here

Matt Kalil is the starting left tackle and might be hurt but might not be

Bill O'Brien hates questions about injuries but this one really set him off. His defensiveness about Matt Kalil is interesting. Roderick Johnson has played well recently and arguably better than Kalil the last time Kalil saw the field. If Johnson is better he should play and someone else can backup Johnson and Kalil can be gone. If Kalil is truly better then he should start at left tackle but he hasn't looked solid in weeks.

O'Brien getting defensive leads credence to the thought Kalil is dealing with an injury. If he is injured, Johnson might and maybe even should pass Kalil on depth chart.

Howard's left hand injury

Tytus Howard has a cast on his left hand. It covers his index finger and middle finger on his left hand. It seems he has a broken finger. He likely won't play and might not practice until the week of the Saints game. Depending on how it heals, and how painful it is, he shouldn't miss regular season time.

1-on-1 winners

Roderick Johnson won a solo rep against Whitney Mercilus.

D.J. Reader worked center Nick Martin.

Max Scharping stuffed his defender.

Seantrell Henderson did an admirable job against J.J. Watt but I would say Watt won the rep.

The offense and defense split the 2v2 reps.

Offensive line projection

Starters in bold. Positions I believe they are comfortable playing and have at least seen them have some success at during camp. I projected eight players. They kept eight players last year in a more dire offensive line situation. I don't see why that can't be the case again.

Matt Kalil (LT)

Tytus Howard (LG)

Nick Martin (C)

Zach Fulton (RG,C,LG)

Seantrell Henderson (RT)

Max Scharping (RG)

Roderick Johnson (LT,RT)

Greg Mancz (C)


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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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