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 now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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