Astros shutout in Minnesota

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 1-0 loss

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After big back-to-back wins to split the four-game series with the Indians in Houston, the Astros hit the road with game one of four against the Twins on Monday night. Here's a quick rundown and three hits from the game:

Final Score: Twins 1, Astros 0

Record: 17-12, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (3-2).

Losing pitcher: Justin Verlander (4-1).

1) No support for Verlander

Justin Verlander provided Houston another solid start, going six innings during which he allowed just one run on a solo home run to go with just one other hit, two walks, and striking out seven. The home run continued his streak of allowing one, a streak that has plagued him in every start this year, one in each of his seven starts. Still, six innings of one-run baseball shouldn't earn you a loss on most nights, but tonight it did, dropping his record to 4-1.

2) Bats can't crack Odorizzi or bullpen

Houston's offense could not string together enough hits to do any damage against Jake Odorizzi, allowing him to complete seven shutout innings during which he allowed just four hits, one walk, and struck out seven. They'd also have no luck against the bullpen, getting just one hit in the final two innings to go shutout in the game.

3) More solid innings from Houston's bullpen 

After Verlander's six innings, the Astros looked to their strained bullpen to keep them in the game. Hector Rondon took over in the seventh and threw a perfect inning. Framber Valdez, after earning a win in two great innings the night before, had the eighth and worked around a leadoff double to keep it a one-run game going to the ninth where the Astros would come up empty.

Up Next: Houston will have game two of this four-game set tomorrow night with first pitch at 6:40 PM. The Astros will send Gerrit Cole (1-4, 4.71 ERA) to the mound to try and improve his tough early numbers against Michael Pineda (2-1, 5.63 ERA) for the Twins.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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