Texans Player of the Game

Coutee returns, impresses during playoff loss

Keke Coutee was a lone bright spot. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Colts may have won the game but the Texans are now sure how valuable rookie wide receiver Keke Coutee is to the team. He scored the Texans only touchdown of the day and finished with 11 catches for 110 yards.

Coutee played for the first time since November as he had been sidelined with a hamstring injury. The Texans found him early and often. He led the team in yards and catches at halftime but the overall offensive performance from Houston was poor. As the team started to show life in the second half, Coutee was key in moving the ball.

Deshaun Watson found Coutee for a short pass that he took up the field for a 17-yard gain but the drive would end in a punt. Coutee converted a fourth down try hauling in a Watson strike keeping the Texans moving. He would finish the drive catching a short pass to Watson's left and diving for the end zone for a touchdown. The play was reviewed to make sure he didn't fumble through the end zone and was upheld.

It was clear how valuable Coutee can be in this offense, especially when defenses have to worry about DeAndre Hopkins. He found himself open quite a bit, even when he wasn't involved in the play. His ability to take short passes and then turn them into more positive yards is impressive. With more experience, and an offseason of growth, a healthy Coutee is going to be a terror for the NFL to try to cover on this Texans team.

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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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