A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans suffer crushing loss to Colts

Crennel made some questionable decisions. Photo by Getty Images.

Division games are always tougher and take on more meaning. This is a team you play twice a year and tend to have familiarity with their players, staffs, playing style, and so on. When that division game is against a team that has ruled the roost for so many years and has made your stadium a second home, you'd think you'd come to play with a next level of focus and intensity. The Texans seemed to do that, and still came up short in their 26-20 loss to the Colts.

The Texans went three and out on their opening drive for the sixth time this year and punted for the 11th time on their opening possession. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton has seemingly made NRG Stadium his second home over the years. On their opening drive, he had two receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. This of course led to immediate thoughts of games past against the Colts in which they jump out to a lead and boat race the Texans while Hilton has a big game. However, Deshaun Watson would not be denied. After Zach Fulton almost got Watson's head taken off, Watson proceeded to: scramble for seven yards, escape another potential sack and find Keke Coutee for a 64-yard gain, then kept an option run for an 11-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven.

When Coutee is your number two receiver behind Brandin Cooks, followed by Chad Hansen, Steven Mitchell Jr, and Isaiah Coulter, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the offense struggle. That wasn't the case. Tim Kelly didn't take his usual designed deep shots, but his play calling didn't appear to be disrupted by the lack of experience at receiver. Watson showed a connection with Coutee and Hansen as the duo combined for 13 catches for 242 yards. Funny because Hansen has been on the practice squad, and wasn't Coutee in O'Brien's dog house?

The first half saw the Colts take a 24-20 lead behind the defense being all Texany. Lots of bad angles and missed tackles, as well as blown coverages. The most egregious was the 4th&4 play that resulted in a touchdown when I believe A.J. Moore Jr blitzed and Philip Rivers found Jonathan Taylor running up the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown. I've seen other teams blitz and cause pressure. When the Texans blitz, they hardly ever get pressure, much less a sack! Their run blitzes don't even have the desired effect on stopping the run. This is the result of not being able to cover and piss poor tackling. Knowing this, why not scheme differently? Too many times I saw these defensive backs get beat in man coverage. Hell, they don't communicate effectively enough in zone either so I guess Anthony Weaver and Romeo Crennel are throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks at this point. One other thing that pissed me off was calling a timeout before the Colts attempted a field goal with 1:15 left before halftime. That timeout could've been used to help them score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal before halftime.

The second half was pretty boring outside of the safety the Colts got because Fulton must hate Watson. It got interesting on the Texans' final possession. They took over with 2:43 left in the game. Watson worked his magic to get the ball to the Colts' six yard line. Alas, their $33 million dollar center (Nick Martin) totally screwed up the snap, Watson couldn't get ahold of it, the Colts recover, and the game was over. Kelly and Watson were simpatico again this game and had a chance to win it, but Martin couldn't let Fulton take all the blame for poor offensive line play this game.

At 4-8, any hope of making a magical run to the seventh seed has died. The only thing they can do is play to make the next head coach and general manager attracted to the core group of players that'll be here next season.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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