Rough day for Texans

The good, bad and ugly from Sunday's loss to the 49ers

T.J. Yates looked solid. Houstontexans.com

The Texans fell to the 2-10, Jimmy Garoppolo-led San Francisco 49ers 26-16 today. This was a winnable game against a “better than their record says” team. There were spots in which the Texans seemed like they were going to take control. However, they lost in the most 2017 Texans way possible: the late-game turnover.

The Good

-Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn got the scoring started with a career long 53-yarder. This was a good sight to see considering his case of the yips as of late. It also showed head coach Bill O’Brien’s confidence in his rookie kicker. Never in doubt with the length, it was right down the middle, almost half way up the uprights.

-DeAndre Hopkins was yet again the best option the Texans had offensively. Hopkins had 11 catches for 149 yards, and two touchdowns. His 149 yards accounted for a whopping 62.6% of the team’s 238 passing yards (67% if you take away yards lost via sacks, more on that later).

-Quarterback T.J. Yates came in, after Tom Savage suffered a concussion, and played as well as a backup quarterback could. Signed on November 3 after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL, Yates was brought back in his third run with the Texans. He went 14/26 for 176 yards and two touchdowns to Hopkins.

The Bad

-Cornerback Kevin Johnson gets called for as many pass interference, defensive holding, and illegal contact flags as opposing defensive backs do against Hopkins. As long as I’ve held off calling him a bust, it’s high time. If he’s not hurt, he’s getting flagged. He shows flashes of being worthy of a first round pick, but far too often shows why Marcus Peters or Byron Jones would’ve been better off being selected at 16th overall.

-When averaging 3.9 yards per carry is an improvement over the last three weeks, your run game is pitiful. The offensive line should take the brunt of the burden, but Lamar Miller should wear a scarlet letter for his part as well. Far too often he’s seen running agility ladder drills in the backfield instead of hitting the hole. I bet he’s really good at the run in place up downs, but his Vision rating on Madden should be a 56.

-Having to manufacture a pass rush by blitzing is showing its wear. Most times, it doesn’t have the success intended. Jadeveon Clowney has to rush from certain spots, angles, and against a favorable matchup in order for the pass rush to have any success. This isn’t a knock on Clowney. This is a testament to the injuries of J.J. Watt, and more specifically, Whitney Mercilus. The backups have been, well, backups. I’ve always maintained that the Mercilus injury was the bigger loss. But it’s more evident now.

The Ugly

-For as good of a year Hopkins is having, his fumble in the 4th quarter of the game sealed the Texans’ fate. Down 23-16 at that point, they had a shot to tie the game with just under six minutes left. The 49ers not only recovered the fumble, but added an insurance field goal to put them up by 10 with under four minutes left.

-Fairbairn may have set his career long to open the scoring, but he also missed another extra point, as well as a 52 yarder when the team was down 26-16 and attempting a miraculous comeback. The extra point was wide left, while the 52-yard field goal hit the left upright. Maybe it’s time to call in a shrink to help him get rid of the yips. I nominate Jobu.

-Savage’s concussion was bad enough. What made it ugly was the fact that he was examined, cleared, brought back in to play, then pulled from the rest of the game for Yates. The league says they’re committed to player safety, but scenes like this play out almost every week. There’s no way in hell a player should ever re-enter a game if he’s believed to be concussed unless he’s cleared by team and independent doctors. Things like this cause investigations into team practices, but the independent doctor had to have cleared him as well.

This loss drops the team to 4-9 on the season and guarantees O’Brien’s first losing season as Texans head coach. Fred Faour penned an interesting argument as to why he believes O’Brien is deserving of an coming back next year heading into his last season under contract. I firmly believe Fred is right. O’Brien has dealt with injuries, a quarterback carousel (partly his own fault), and an owner saying dumb things this year. Despite it all, the team was only “blown out” of two games this year, and have had a chance to win seven of their nine losses with one possession. Maintaining some semblance of order and competitiveness in a s---storm says something. While many may not like him, his attitude, or his lack of on-field results, he’s done enough to warrant a one-year  “prove-it” year next year when the cupboard is fully stocked.

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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