THE LONE STAR

In loss to the Ravens, Clowney is one of the few bright spots, as he has been all season

Jadeveon Clowney is one of the few bright spots in a lost season. Houstontexans.com

In this lost Texans season, one defensive player has consistently stepped up. Jadeveon Clowney has become the force the Texans envisioned when they drafted him No. 1 overall.

He has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Clowney picked up his ninth sack of the season in the 23-16 loss to the Ravens. The loss dropped the Texans to 4-7 and essentially ended their slim playoff hopes. But it was not on Clowney. He is second in the league in tackles for losses. He is constantly double teamed. Teams are game planning around him.

He did not get a ton of help Monday night. His special teams was caught off guard on a play that set up one touchdown. Tom Savage threw a terrible pick that set up another score, threw another one late and gave up yet another fumble on a sack -- his seventh of the year, which leads the league. Savage is good for at least two turnovers a game. Monday he had three. Those led to 10 points and would have been more if the Ravens had not run out the clock after the last turnover. That makes it almost impossible to win a game in Baltimore. The turnovers were the difference in the game. 

But Clowney more than did his part. While the stat line does not look all that impressive -- two tackles, both for losses with the sack -- he was constantly in the backfield, putting pressure on the Ravens offensive line and quarterback Joe Flacco. He forced players to run into tackles. He had one mistake late -- an offsides that gave the Ravens a first down -- but otherwise he was the best player on the field when the Texans were on defense.

Early in his career, injuries slowed him down. The “bust” word was being thrown around. But with J.J. Watt lost for the bulk of the season for a second straight year, Clowney has been one of the few bright spots on a defense that has struggled throughout the year.

The reality is the Texans simply suffered too many injuries this season. They lost two of their three best players on defense when Watt and Whitney Mercilus went down. Brian Cushing has missed 10 games because of another PED violation. They then lost one of the most exciting young QBs in football when Deshaun Watson went down.

Of the star players, Clowney and D’Andre Hopkins are the last men standing. Both have been phenomenal and were again Monday night. Both need help. It’s a shame that so many players have been lost. But as strange as it might sound, Clowney might be benefitting from Watt’s absence. The Texans have used Clowney the way they used Watt; lining him up in different places, moving him around, trying to isolate him in positive matchups. The results have been excellent. Unfortunately, the results as a team have not been as good, but that’s not on Clowney.

In a lost season, Clowney has been a rare bright spot.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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