Texans 20, Colts 17

In a must-win game, Texans grind out a big victory over the Colts

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The Texans were in a must-win situation against the Colts Thursday night and came through with a huge win. They won it 20-17. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

Positives: They were able to get some big plays in the passing game to both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The latter is rarely healthy enough to play, but on the few occasions he is on the field, he helps stretch the defense. It aided in Deshaun Watson throwing for 298 yards and 2 TDs on 19 of 30 passing. Fuller had a big third down catch late in the game to ice it.

Negatives: Watson had a first half pick that led to points. He also made a terrible pass on fourth and three in the third quarter that gave them no chance at converting. The running game was an absolute joke until Carlos Hyde broke free for 33 yards in the fourth quarter.

Defense

Positives: Early on, they kept the Colts at bay, not allowing any points until late in the second quarter. They came up with three straight stops in the second half that allowed them to win the game. They held Jacoby Brissett to just 129 yards passing. They had a massive stop on fourth and seven late in the fourth quarter that essentially won them the game.

Negatives: For a stretch, the Colts were able to run the ball almost at will, hit tight ends and running backs out of the backfield in the passing game and basically dominate for a time where they scored three straight times when the Texans missed tackles and looked sloppy. Fortunately they did just enough when it mattered. Still they forced zero turnovers, had just one sack and allowed the Colts 175 rushing yards and a 4.5 yards per carry average. The Colts dominated time of possession by almost seven minutes, converted 9 of 15 on third down and ran 65 plays to the Texans 55. Still, they got out with a win.

The bottom line

The Texans had to have this to have a realistic shot at winning the division. It was a tough, grind it out win, which the Texans have done a lot this year. As bad as they were on Sunday against the Ravens, this was a strong bounce back. Watson was clutch, the defense was OK enough and the Texans were able to escape with a victory. At 7-4, they lead the AFC South and with the Patriots up next they needed this one in the worst way.

Fortunately, they got it.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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