WORLD SERIES

Astros just need one more bit of magic to close out a memorable run

The Astros were magical last night. Can they do it one more time? Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There is only one word to describe Game 5 of the World Series.

Epic.

In the Astros’ 13-12, instant classic victory, one player after another stood up when it counted. Yuli Gurriel’s homer to tie it at 4. Jose Altuve’s to tie it at 7. George Springer’s to tie it at 8.

The Brian McCann gave Houston a 12-9 lead headed to the ninth, and it appeared the Astros would hold on.

They didn’t. The Dodgers, equally resilient, tied it up in the top of the inning.

But Alex Bregman came up with a clutch single in the 10th off of one of the most feared relievers in baseball, and the Astros are now one game away from their first ever World Series title. The scene returns to LA for Game 6 with the Astros leading three games to two, and the ride is nearly over.

And what a ride it has been. These two teams are so evenly matched that you could expect almost any outcome. Certainly having Justin Verlander on the mound for Game 6 should be an advantage for the Astros; this is, after all, why they brought him in. But who would have thought Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw would not make it past the fifth inning in Game 5?

Houston fans should appreciate what they are seeing. This is one of those sports moments that might never be duplicated. It’s certainly unprecedented in Astros history.

So what happens next? The Astros will need Verlander to be at his very best. The bullpen is strained and ineffective, so the Astros will ride their ace as long as they can. And the Astros need to get to Rich Hill early, so the Dodgers equally taxed bullpen has to decide the game.

If it gets to a Game 7, the Dodgers would have a distinct advantage, so the best chance at the first-ever title might be Tuesday night, with Verlander on the mound.

We have seen so much magic during this amazing run to this point. The Astros just need one more bit of magic. One more win. One more heroic effort.

And that would be the most epic result yet.

 

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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