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All the reasons the Texans still have something to play for

Texans Deshaun Watson, Laremy Tunsil
Let's look at this from another angle. Composite image by Jack Brame.
Where Watson, the Texans rank in the new NFL Top 100 and why it makes sense

As if everything we've dealt with in 2020 so far hasn't been hard enough, Houston sports fans have a little more that they're dealing with. We've had murder hornets, Tiger King, COVID-19, social unrest, election year, Kobe died, and the Olympics were postponed among other major events due to COVID-19. Talk about a kick in the crotch!

Add to that the fact that Houston sports fans have had to endure the Astros cheating scandal and its fallout with manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow getting fired, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni not re-signing, and general Darryl Morey stepping down, but the Texans finally liberated themselves of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. All three major pro sports franchises got rid of their head coaches and general managers. Pretty sure this has never happened in one city before.

We all know football is king in Texas. So when your team starts 1-6 while looking like they can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag if armed with an AR15, you don't have much hope. I feel your pain Texans fans. I've been there as a fan before. The uneasy feeling of hopelessness that could last for another couple seasons potentially cripples you mentally. Your fandom is called into serious question. Others openly challenge your commitment to your team when they obviously have their priorities messed up because they allow a modern-day Christian version of Littlefinger to take control of day to day operations.

So I know you're asking yourselves: why in the hell would Jermaine think there's still something to play for this season?!? I'm so glad you asked! There are a few reasons I think fans, and the team itself, shouldn't eject on this season just yet.

For starters, Deshaun Watson is your franchise quarterback. He's only 25 years old, in the midst of his fourth season, and was just signed to an extension. Paying him what they did, they need to get the most out of him at all times. This means fine-tuning and developing his game in order to maximize his output while he's under contract. I don't care who's still on staff, developing Watson, and getting him to realize his potential is the top priority.

Shedding salaries for mid to late round draft picks will only serve to add potential depth to a team that needs frontline starting talent in order to change. Sure, some of those picks can be used to get said starters, but do we trust this regime in its current form to make those selections? While I'd normally be all for trading guys and acquiring more draft picks this team so desperately lacks, I'm leery on it yielding the return of investment needed.

There's also the younger guys on this roster that need playing time. Evaluating the younger talent on this team is huge. Cheap labor is how teams build and keep the salary cap under control. With all the overpaid guys under contract, playing and seeing what young/cheap guys can do is valuable. There are guys from the last couple drafts that could be busts, or could be misused while still having potential.

There's also the remote outside shot of going on a run and getting the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. As of this writing, the Texans are about four to five games out of that final playoff spot. Their remaining opponents have a combined 30-26 record, so it won't be easy. However, they have a few winnable games and could pull off a run like they did a couple years ago. Stranger things have happened. Will this team pull itself together and be able to make people care again this season? That remains to be seen. Let's see how it goes and take it game by game. The trade deadline will give us a peek into their mindset.

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Astros defeat Marlins, 4-3. Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images.

Alex Bregman had three RBIs and his tiebreaking two-run home run in the seventh inning lifted the Houston Astros to a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

The game was tied at 2 with one out in the seventh when Chas McCormick reached on a throwing error by rookie shortstop Xavier Edwards. There were two outs in the inning when Bregman sent an off-speed pitch from Huascar Brazobán (1-2) into the seats in left field to make it 4-2.

“Our offense has been swinging the bat really well and swinging to good pitches over this last stretch,” Bregman said. “And today was one of those days that we didn’t really have too much traffic on the bases, but we found a way to get it done.”

The victory was Houston’s seventh straight at home and comes after the Astros dropped the final two games of a series at Minnesota last weekend.

Ronel Blanco (9-3) allowed four hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings for the win.

“He’s got guts,” manager Joe Espada said. “He goes out there, he competes, he understands what’s at stake and that we needed a good outing after losing a series in Minnesota... he gave us a chance to win and that’s what he’s been doing all year."

Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a leadoff homer for the Marlins and Jesús Sánchez’s solo homer tied it in the seventh before Bregman’s go-ahead shot.

Chisholm singled with two outs in the eighth and stole second base. The Marlins cut the lead to one when he scored on a single by Bryan De La Cruz. Josh Hader walked one in a scoreless ninth for his 16th save.

Miami starter Trevor Rogers permitted six hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings before Brazobán took over.

Chisholm sent Blanco’s fourth pitch into the seats in right field to give Miami an early lead. De La Cruz singled after that before Blanco settled in.

He retired the next 17 batters, with six strikeouts, before De La Cruz walked with two outs in the sixth. Blanco then struck out Josh Bell to end the inning.

Jake Meyers singled with two outs in the second before a walk by Mauricio Dubón. The Astros tied it at 1-1 when Meyers scored on a single by McCormick.

Dubón doubled to start Houston’s fifth but was out on a fielder’s choice that allowed McCormick to reach. McCormick stole second base and the Astros took a 2-1 lead when he scored on a single by Bregman.

Sánchez tied it when he connected off Blanco on a shot to left field to start the seventh.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander, who has been out since June 16 with neck stiffness, is playing catch every other day but isn’t sure when he’ll return.

“It really just depends on each step, so if it continues to progress the way I would like, hopefully it’s not too long,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t even know what too long means as I say that though. So, it could be very soon. It could be a few weeks.”

UP NEXT

Houston LHP Framber Valdez (7-5, 3.84 ERA) opposes RHP Bryan Hoeing (0-1, 1.99) when the series continues Wednesday night.

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