Another loss

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 45-7 loss to the Jaguars

DeAndre Hopkins was once again one of the lone bright spots. Houstontexans.com

Quarterback T.J. Yates’ first start didn’t go as well as he hoped as the Texans fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-7. Another week, another poor performance by the Texans. They went down like Mike Tyson hit them with one of his famous uppercuts.

The Good

-It took DeAndre Hopkins about two and a half quarters to really get going, but he beat Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey on two good plays. The first was a 40-yard go route on a third and 11. The second was a similar go route for a 25-yard touchdown.

-Benardrick McKinney showed that no-quit attitude on a hustle play. Jags receiver Keelan Cole broke away from the defense on a 73-yard catch and run. McKinney hustled down field to prevent it from being a 74-yard touchdown. The fact that McKinney chased him down shows that it means more to him to make that play as opposed to feeling sorry for himself and his team. No “business decision” made here.

-Will Fuller had five catches on five targets for 44 yards. I find this fascinating since he was labeled (and rightfully so) a guy that drops too many passes, as well as being only a deep threat. He ran good routes and made every catch. His best route/catch combo came on a third down conversion on a nice out route in which his crisp cut created not only separation, but a throwing lane for Yates as well.

The Bad

-While the team only gave up four sacks, all three sacks came on third downs and ended possessions. Those three possessions that ended in sacks also came in the dreadful first half in which the Jags jumped out to a 31-0 lead.  

-One of the plays you learn not to make is a costly mistake before halftime. Especially when it gives the team with a sizable lead another shot at putting points on the board. That’s exactly what Yates did by throwing an interception 42 seconds left before halftime. He floated a ball out to Hopkins that Jags safety Barry Church picked off at the Texans’ 45 yard line.

- Offensive lineman Jeff Allen was penalized three more times today. His play has been downright awful. Contrary to what may be popular opinion, he’s not even the team leader in penalties. He has eight, while Jadeveon Clowney leads the team with 11.

The Ugly

-Speaking of penalties, the Texans as a team were penalized 13 times for a total of 122 yards. It’s bad enough when your offense can’t move the ball, but when you give up over 100 yards in penalties, that’ll make any difficulties even more insurmountable.

- Jags fullback Tommy Bohanon scored two touchdowns on a couple 1-yard fullback dive plays. Whenever the opposing team’s fullback scores twice, that’s a clear sign your defense has allowed their offense to deeply penetrate your turf.  

-The pass defense was absolutely shredded by Blake freaking Bortles (21 of 29, 326 yards and three touchdowns) and a couple of undrafted wide receivers! Craig Shelton and I were thinking the same thing earlier, but he actually tweeted it out. Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens combined for 11 catches, 247 yards, and all three of Bortles’ touchdowns. Mickens actually slept in his car as a member of the practice squad because he couldn’t afford a place to stay!

Texans defense couldn’t cover the head of a nail with a blanket today. They were playing some man coverage and consistently got beat on crossing routes because their cover guys lack speed and man cover skills. When they resorted to playing more zone looks, they were still getting beat because they can’t generate enough of a pass rush…and their defensive backs can’t cover! Kevin Johnson got penalized and abused yet again today, while the All-Pro who was more than likely not on their draft board that year had two interceptions and a forced fumble last night for the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s nothing great about losing to look forward to since they don’t own their 1st or 2nd rounders in the upcoming draft, so the rebuild will take longer than most will think. Here’s to hoping Rick Smith finds a magic personnel genie to help him make moves this offseason, or I could see another subpar year coming next year.

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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