PROTECTING THE FRANCHISE

Texans battling Bears for key free agent

Photo by Tom Szczerbowski / Stringer/Getty Images

After they allowed a league-high 65 sacks in 2018, the Houston Texans have been on a mission to upgrade their offensive line to protect their quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Starting with the acquisition of LT Laremy Tunsil and drafting Tytus Howard, the Texans' line took a step in the right direction as Houston gave up a total of 45 sacks during the 2019 season.

With 20 fewer sacks when compared to the previous season, there is still some work that needs to be done to ease Watson's chances from hitting the ground in 2020, and after missing out on their year-long pursuit Trent Williams, the Texans have shifted their focus to former New Orleans Saints guard, Larry Warford, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. If the Texans can find a way to land Warford, the addition of the Pro-Bowl guard has the potential to become Bill O'Brien's best acquisition of the summer. The Chicago bears are also interested in Warford's services according to a recent report.

In 2013, Warford began his career as a third-round pick for the Detroit Lions before signing a four-year, $34 million deal with the Saints in 2017. In New Orleans, the 6-foot-3, 317-pound prodigy out of Kentucky, started all 44 regular-season games at right guard and became a three-time Pro Bowler. Despite playing a big part in their success over the past three seasons, the Saints released the guard on Friday to free up $7 million in salary-cap space. He specializes in pass protection and has allowed only seven sacks during this three-year tenure in New Orleans, per PFF.


Should the Texans lure Warford down I-10 West to sign in Houston, the potential signing may mark the end of the current starter, Zach Fulton, who is set to become a free agent following the 2021 NFL season.

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Houston gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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