TEXANS 19, COWBOYS 16 (OT)

Houston wins the battle of Texas in overtime, 19-16

Deshaun Watson had another big game. Tim Warner/Getty Images

In the battle of Texas, Houston would claim victory in overtime 19-16 and move their record to 2-3 on the season. A low scoring affair marred by a Texans offense that was unable to get the ball in the end zone from short distance ended with Houston walking off in overtime on a Ka’imi Fairbairn 36-yard field goal.

The game was a defensive grind, with turnovers by each team being a factor. Offensively the Texans looked effective and showed what Deshaun Watson can bring to the table. He was 33 of 44 for 375 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also scrambled 10 times for 40 yards, just 6 yards behind the leading rusher on the team Alfred Blue. It was the red zone offense that was a problem. Five times the Texans were inside that Dallas 5-yard line and only once did they manage a touchdown. The other four drives ended in three field goals and a turnover on downs.

The Texans defense did their part to keep it a low scoring affair. The held Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher, to just 54 yards on 20 carries and Dak Prescott to 208 yards passing with 2 interceptions. They limited Dallas to two trips inside the 20-yard line, allowing a touchdown and a field goal. They created a lot of pressure but managed only 2 sacks on the night. J.J. Watt got his sixth of the season and Clowney added a half sack to his season total of 2.5.

Despite holding the Cowboys to less than 300 yards of total offense, it was an early missed field goal and an untimely DeAndre Hopkins fumble that would come back to haunt the Texans and send the game to overtime tied at 16. It was there that the Cowboys would gain just 33 yards before punting it away to the Texans for the game winning drive.

Like he has done all season DeAndre Hopkins has proven himself to be one of the best receivers in the league. He finished the game with 9 receptions for 151 yards, none more impressive than his 49-yard catch on the overtime drive to move the Texans in field goal range. But he wasn’t the only player with a good game receiving. Dallas was tough against the other receivers making room for Alfred Blue to catch 8 passes for 73 yards and tight end Ryan Griffin to bring in 6 for 65 yards. Both performing better than in the teams previous four games this season.


 

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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