Texans Player of the Game

Another round of Hopkins vs. Ramsey goes to the Texans WR

Nick Sharara ESPN 97.5

With many of the Jaguars key offensive players taking the day off the Texans defense had a field-day. The offense looked great whenever the ball was headed to DeAndre Hopkins who drew the toughest assignment of the day, squaring off yet again with one of the best cornerbacks in the game in Jalen Ramsey.

Hopkins dominated today. With Ramsey shadowing him most of the game the Texans star amassed 12 catches for 147 yards. He hauled in one long pass for 43 yards down the sidelines with Ramsey in near lockstep with him.

Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said they like to move Hopkins around a lot to make it hard for him to find. He gave credit to Ramsey and praised his mentality and approach to Hopkins and said he's aware fans love watching that matchup. He called Hopkins the ultimate professional.

Watson looked early and often for Hopkins. Screen passes early saw Hopkins shake loose and later Watson got rolling hitting his star wideout consistently in the middle of the field. Even with far less talent than he has ever played with at wideout Hopkins frequently was open for Watson to hit.

This will go down as Hopkins' best statistical season ever. He set career highs in receptions and yards. He also hauled in 11 touchdowns on the season. He has tied Andre Johnson's single season record for receptions as well.

"I think Andre was over there telling them not to throw it to me," Hopkins joked after the game. Johnson attended the post game press conference with Hopkins and said he was proud of Hopkins. He also said he would put Hopkins up against any wideout in football.

He did all of this with a rotating cast of wideouts playing with him and appearing almost every week on the injury report. He's the most dominant offensive players in Texans history and trails only J.J. Watt for displays of dominance in franchise history overall.

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McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

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