POINT BLANK

Joel Blank: Rick Smith got one thing right in his checkered tenure - Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson gives the Texans something they have never had. Bob Levey/Getty Images

For Texans fans, the mere thought of having a franchise quarterback is like a breath of fresh air. You didn’t even have to be at NRG Saturday night to feel the energy and excitement surrounding the Texans this upcoming season. After years of struggles, trials and tribulations trying to find the right signal caller, it seems like they finally got it right. Rick Smith made his fair share of mistakes that eventually cost him his job, but his parting gift - the trade that brought Deshaun Watson to Houston - might be enough to forgive all the slip ups and misses.

Sure, Smith signed Brock Osweiler to that horrific deal and had to give up what turned out to be a top five second round draft pick to make it go away. And of course we all are painfully aware that he gave up even more to move up in the draft to select yet another quarterback he only hoped could be the guy. The front office games of musical QB's and quarterback roulette went on long enough that people wondered if the team would ever get it right.

When you look at the quarterback class of 2017 and think about the options the Texans had, there were four guys that the team could have taken. The first was Mitchell Trubisky,  and that thought was quickly erased when the Bears moved up and selected him second overall. Texas Tech gunslinger Patrick Mahomes was also a possible option, but the Chiefs moved two spots in front of what would eventually be Houston's draft position and snatched him up to be the face of Kansas City's football future at 10. The Texans took Watson at 12.  Notre Dame QB Deshon Kizer was also in the class and though he was considered more of a long term project, he would go to the Browns in the second round at number 52. As we look at that list and where they are now, it's safe to say that none of those other guys have shown as much potential or produced as many results as Deshaun.

Trubisky may be the closest to being ready to step up and show he is a capable starter, but he is nowhere near Watson in terms of execution, poise and decision making. Mahomes spent all of last season learning behind Alex Smith in hopes that this year he would be ready to lead the Chiefs. Everything we’ve seen and heard to this point is that he has struggled in camp to grasp the offense, control the huddle and even call the right play. Kizer had a rough rookie year in Cleveland both on and off the field and was traded to Green Bay in the off season, where he’s fighting Brett Hundley for the back-up job. In short, none of those guys come close to living up to the hype they had coming into the league, let alone trying to equal Watson's rookie results and high expectations for the upcoming campaign.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes telling you for you to realize that Rick got it right where so many others got it wrong. Watson won in college against the best teams in the biggest games and put up big numbers. He ran a pro-style offense and was the clear cut leader of the team. He quickly showed how he could translate those attributes and contributions on the next level and now has the team, city and entire football world waiting with anticipation as to what he can do in year two. The sky is the limit and that's elementary, my dear Watson.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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