THE PALLILOG

Here's why it won't take long to judge the 2020 Texans

Composite photo by Jack Brame

The NFL released its 2020 regular season schedule Thursday night hoping it plays out as actual and not hypothetical. The Houston Texans have an opportunity to send the rest of the league a warning shot of their ascendancy toward greatness! They also stand a chance of getting buried early. Returning to the scene of the crime, or more accurately their humiliation, the Texans are slated to play their first game that counts at the site of their last game that counted. This time a trip to Arrowhead Stadium means a visit to the home of the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. That means a probable 0-1 Texans start. They open as early 10 or 10 1/2 point underdogs. If they are 0-1, the Texans will probably sag to 0-2 as the home opener in week two has the Baltimore Ravens visiting NRG Stadium. On the other hand, if somehow they start 2-0…

0-2 is obviously more likely than 2-0. At least it gets easier for the Texans from there. Easier does not mean easy. Week three, at Pittsburgh. Yoy! Week four, home vs. the Vikings. The first game that on paper is a definitely should win game for the Texans is week five vs. the Jaguars. That's followed by a trip to Tennessee then a home game vs. the Packers. Man. That's five 2019 playoff teams among the first seven opponents, plus the Steelers in Pittsburgh. After those opening seven games if I somehow could guarantee you the Texans will either be 6-1 or 1-6, which way do you go? Thought so.

Zero Sunday or Monday night games on the Texans' initial schedule. Flex scheduling could alter that. The season finale for instance if, say, the Texans' home game vs. the Titans is to decide the AFC South.

The Texans' zero prime-time games after the opener at K.C. are five fewer than Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have.

ESPN.com had its 32 team beat writers make a regular season record guess for the team he or she covers. 21 of 32 predict winning records, two guessed 8-8, just nine forecast losing seasons. I guess collectively that makes them homers.


Jose Altuve turned 30 this week. He has 1568 big league hits. When Pete Rose turned 30 he had 1540 hits. Altuve has no chance at making a run at Rose's Major League Baseball record hit total of 4256. When Craig Biggio turned 30 he had 1105 hits. He finished with 3060. In the four seasons after he turned 30 Biggio missed a total of four games. Altuve starts his thirties by losing out on dozens more. At 188 hits per season (his average over his eight full seasons as a big leaguer) Altuve needs more than seven and a half seasons to reach 3000 hits. Biggio ranks 25th on MLB's career hits leaderboard. Altuve is tied for 570th.


50 years ago Friday featured one of the most famous games in NBA history. May 7, 1970, game Seven of the Finals, the New York Knicks won their first title by beating the Lakers in what is pretty much known as the "Willis Reed Game." The Knicks center and captain tore a thigh muscle early in game five which the Knicks managed to win anyway. With no Reed in game 6 Wilt Chamberlain went for 45 points and 27 rebounds as the Lakers rolled 135-113. To the surprise of most, Reed hobbled down the tunnel to take the court for warmups before game seven, as the crowd at Madison Square Garden went berserk. Reed hit two jumpers for the Knicks' first two field goals, and the game was basically over. Reed didn't score again, finishing with four points and three rebounds in 27 minutes but the Knicks just destroyed the Lakers, leading 94-69 after three quarters before ultimately winning 113-99. It's known as the "Willis Reed Game" but really should be known as the "Walt Frazier Game." The Knicks' point guard went off for a ridiculous 36 points and 19 assists, arguably the greatest game seven performance in NBA history.


I've known Joel Blank for 25 years. Despite that, I think we'll have some fun as this Monday we start doing a show together weekdays 11-1 on ESPN 97.5. Joel will adapt to my sarcasm. I will adapt to his Green Bay Packer fixation. Producer Nick Sharara will serve as referee when needed. The show will be called The Press Box. Had to be called something I guess.


Buzzer Beaters:

1. Happy Mother's Day to all moms Sunday. Especially mine! 2. Next week takes us into the third month of basically no sports. Longest three years of my life. 3. Best synonyms for boredom: Bronze-torpor Silver-languor Gold-ennui

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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