FALCON POINTS

Is Bill O'Brien going full Rocky IV before our eyes?

Photo by Getty Images.

Bill O'Brien may finally be getting some self-awareness. The Texans coach has at long last realized he has an image problem, not just locally, but nationally.

After a year in which he blew a big lead in a playoff game, went off on TV at the draft, traded away key players like DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney for pennies on the dollar and became the star of the infamous "you suck, too!" video, O'Brien is trying to change the narrative.

First, he had a truly heartfelt and emotional reaction to George Floyd's death. It showed a rare human side to a man who has appeared anything but publicly.

Next, he announced he would take a knee with his players during the national anthem. It showed a change of direction for the entire organization, and it again made O'Brien look human.

Finally, he hosted a roundtable off-the-record chat with several Houston media members. (I must have misplaced my invite, but good for him). A few people there said it was nothing earth shattering, but at least trying to open communication is a step in the right direction.

Is he really changing? Or is it just a desperate attempt to clean up an ugly image? Believe it or not, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. These times we live in are changing all of us. Some for the better, some for worse. There is no "normal" anymore. We will simply have to adjust to whatever is the new normal.

O'Brien is at least making an effort, and listening to others for a change. Maybe that translates to his in-game coaching skills as well, because he could afford to make some changes there.

The media meeting was an attempt to maybe erase some of his terseness with that group in press conferences. Most press conferences are useless, but O'Brien's are next level worthless. "Best interest of the team. We have to coach better, we have to play better. I have to look at the tape."

No one expects that to really change. It doesn't help when half the questions are softballs and the other half O'Brien takes as personal attacks. But getting to know the media that covers you outside of doing business with them is always smart. Listening to each other and getting a sense of what makes us tick is essential in life, especially in the wake of current events.

O'Brien has a long way to go, no question. But he seems to be making an effort, and hopefully it will translate to the field next season as well, if there is a next season.

I'm reminded of the words of Rocky at the end of Rocky IV.

"If I can change and you can change, everybody can change."

Maybe it's just O'Brien's turn. Finally.

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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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