Vikings 31, Texans 23

Texans' descent into Bill O'Brien hell continues in 31-23 loss to Vikings

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The Texans dropped yet another game, falling to 0-4 after losing to the Vikings 31-23. It was a 2020 version of the Texans greatest hits: Deshaun Watson was slightly above average, they couldn't run the ball when it counted, they couldn't stop the run, and they were dominated by the run late in the game. Five observations from the loss:

1) You can't win the turnover battle if you don't get any. The Texans failed to get a turnover for the fourth straight game. You simply can't win football games without winning the turnover battle on occasion. And the Texans were never close to getting a pick or a fumble. Turnovers can be random, but zero in four games? Pathetic.

2) The run defense still sucks. They were always going to struggle against Dalvin Cook, who had 130 yards on 27 carries. As a team the Vikings rushed for 162 yards. But it doesn't really matter who the Texans are playing; they simply can't stop the run, and they haven't been able to for two years. So expecting something different at this stage is silly. The Vikings ran the ball down the Texans' throats down the stretch, a common theme in this awful season.

3) Deshaun Watson is not special right now. His descent into mediocrity continues. He had a solid game - 20 of 33 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. But he wasn't great. And the Texans need him to be great to win games. Whether it is just a bad scheme or Watson is not playing well, he is simply not good enough right now. He missed a lot of easy passes, especially in the first half, and his brilliant plays late were not enough to make up for it.

4) Bill O'Brien is still a mess. He appeared to take play calling duties over again, and it simply did not work. O'Brien is just not skilled enough to be a GM, head coach and OC. He might not be skilled enough to be any of them. At this stage, Texans fan is stuck with him, so it really doesn't matter that he is awful, but week after week he gets exposed. His insistence on running the ball even when down late in the game is insane. His overall play calling was spotty and inconsistent, just like it has been his entire career in Houston.

5) They ran the ball better, but...It wasn't good enough. They had 96 yards on a 3.7 average, but most came late in the game when the Vikings had a lead and wanted to stop the pass. The Texans have to figure this out or they will not beat anyone.

The bottom line: The Texans deserve to be 0-4. They have been outplayed in all four games. It's hard to see this as much more than a five win team right now. O'Brien got what he wanted - full control - and this is the result.


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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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