The Cowboys Report

The Dallas Cowboys get in some work to prepare for the season; Rams up next

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The Dallas Cowboys began their 2019 NFL Football season Saturday night on the road when they took on the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game of the year.The Cowboys went into halftime leading 9-7 but eventually lost by the final score of 17-9.

Almost all teams use the preseason as glorified practices to get players game speed repetitions and evaluate new players or players coming off of injuries.This is why most starters don't play much for any of the teams.

Starting Quarterback Dak Prescott looked good on his only drive of the game by completing all four of his passes as he led the Cowboys on a 9-play 65-yard drive that ended with a Brett Maher 25 yard field goal.He looks to have a great connection with second year receiver Michael Gallup who caught two passes for 19 yards on the drive as well.Another bright spot of the game was seeing Pro Bowl Center Travis Fredrick return to action. He missed all of last season due to Gullian-Barre Syndrome.

Most notably missing from the team was two-time Pro Bowler and last year's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott. He has yet to report to the team and is holding out until he can secure a new contract even though he still has two years remaining on his original rookie deal.This a bit strange because most players hold out when they only have one year left but Zeke is probably the best running back in the league and wants to be paid as so. The position he plays has a very short shelf life and I don't blame him for wanting to get fully compensated.

The Dallas starting defense looked good in the two series they played.They only allowed two first downs and shut out the 49ers in the first quarter.

3 things to watch for

1.Running backs (T. Pollard or A. Morris): With Zeke away from the team, it will be good to see who can help replace his production.Rookie Tony Pollard from Memphis played with the starters on Saturday.He had 4 carries for 16 yards.Free agent acquisition Alfred Morris did not play this game but since he just signed with the team a few weeks ago he is probably still learning the play book.

2.Red Zone issues: The Cowboys have not been good at scoring touchdowns from inside the opponent's 20 yard line.This game was no different as they went 0-4.They have added a new offensive coordinator (Kellen Moore) and the return of 11 time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten should help improve this.Witten did not play on Saturday as well.

3.Kicker Brett Maher: The second year kicker from the Canadian Football League went 3 of 4 on his field goal attempts on Saturday. He missed from 35 yards in the second quarter. He tends to struggle between 30 and 40 yards. If the Cowboys Red Zone problems continue, Maher will have to be more effective.

Coming Up

Saturday, Aug. 17th the Cowboys (0-1) will be on the road again taking on the Los Angeles Rams (0-1) in Honolulu, Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.This one should be a little more interesting as both teams will be looking for their first preseason win and all starters might play a little more than a series or two.

Currently, the line on this game is a pickem with the over/under at 43.5.Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Who bets on preseason games?" but you would be surprised on how many people actually do. I will be staying away from it but if you have to play it, I would lean on the under. Both the Rams and Cowboys combined for only 12 points this past weekend.


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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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