WATT A LOSS

J.J. Watt announces his release from Texans in heartfelt video

So Watt's next? Composite image by Jack Brame.

It was the news Houston Texans fans have been dreading. And so, it came from the hometown hero himself.

"I have sat down with the McNair family and I have asked them for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time," J.J. Watt announced in a Twitter video on February 12.

Appearing in what appears to be his home or his getaway cabin, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and face of the team since 2011 described being "a kid from Wisconsin who had never been to Texas before.

Sporting a white cap and University of Wisconsin sweatshirt, he joked about being booed by Texans fans on draft night in 2011, but "...every day after that you've treated me like family and I truly feel like your family," he added.

Watt then said that he worked every day to earn fans' respect and make them proud on and off the field. "You guys have given me everything and more and I can only hope you feel like I've given you everything I have."

The future Hall of Famer expressed his love for this "unbelievable" city, noting that this is where he met his wife (soccer star Kealia Ohai) and made lifelong friends and teammates. He praised teammates, the front office, and the most humble of team staff.

He also gave a shout out to fans who would stop him everywhere, even those showing up at his house. "The connection is special," Watt said, adding that he would "never ever" take it for granted.

So Watt's next? The superstar said he was "excited and looking forward to a new opportunity," but added that it is "tough to move on." He thanked the team, McNair and family, adding a warm, "thank you Houston, I love you."

Watt is one of only three players in NFL history to win at least three AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards, in 2012, 2014, and 2015. He leads the league in tackles for loss (172), quarterback hits (281), multi-sack games (26) and sack yards (713.5), while ranking second in sacks (101.0). In 2020, Watt, who led the NFL in sacks twice (2012 and 2015), became the fourth-fastest player in NFL history to total 100.0 sacks, doing so in just his 120th career game, per team stats.

Famously in 2017, he raised a massive $41 million in Hurricane Harvey relief aid.

"Simply put, there has been no person in the past decade who has made a greater impact on the Texans organization than J.J. Watt," said co-founder and senior chair Janice S. McNair, in a statement.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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