All the reasons the Texans still have something to play for

Let's look at this from another angle. Composite image by Jack Brame.

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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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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