NFL DRAFT

Long wait might have paid off for Texans as they fill three key needs in third round

Justin Reid should make an impact in Year 1 for the Texans. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We all know why Friday night is when the Texans got their first crack at the draft board, so I’ll spare you the story. What I will say is that new GM Brian Gaine did a bang-up job with what he had.

Despite speculation that he might package a combination of mid-round picks to move into the back of the second round, he decided to stay put and pick the best players on the board. Kudos, Sir. Sometimes you just need to accept the hand you’re dealt and not throw away the future because of it.

With the 68th pick in the draft, the Texans chose Stanford Safety Justin Reid. They followed that by selecting Martinas Rankin with the 80th pick from Mississippi State to play on the offensive line. They wrapped up their night with another solid choice at pick 98; Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins.

All three picks addressed an immediate depth need for the Texans, but Justin Reid will probably be the only one to have a legitimate shot at significant playing time.

Rankin could easily slide inside for the Texans and will have a chance to compete, but the experienced veterans will most likely beat him out for a starting spot. His flexibility will be useful as he develops into a full-time role inside in the coming years. The Texans do hope he can play left tackle.

Akins is a perfect example of a late third round pick. He has a lot of upside but is in serious need of development. If the Texans can figure out how to use him right he has plenty of playmaking ability as a receiver, but will be a liability in the run game. He won’t be an every-down player like they want but he adds depth and potential to a huge area of need. Oh, and his speed and size should be useful in another area of need: special teams.

Considering the circumstances, this is a great start to the draft for the Texans. Three areas of need have been addressed in the best way they can by taking talent where the value is and not reaching because they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds.

This looks to be a departure from the previous years of ineptitude in the middle rounds of the draft and Texans fans should be optimistic. There are still five more picks for the Texans to make on Saturday, but if Friday night is any indication then it might be a sunny day in Houston.

 

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Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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