DEALING WITH INJURIES

The Texans need great coaching for an evolving roster

Bill O'Brien will need to raise his game this week. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Once again, the injury bug has hit the Texans. This time they are lucky it’s not the quarterback or the pass rushers. The problem this year is that injuries have hit positions without a lot of depth like wide receiver and cornerback. But here they are, sitting on a five-game winning streak and some folks thinking they can win the division. That can still happen, but they can’t afford to be patient with back-ups while they already have three losses. The coaches will have to be the first ones to step up and make sure there’s no dip in production while the roster reshuffles.

So, someone will have to convince Bill O’Brien that he needs to adjust his offense this week because Sammie Coates and Vyncint Smith are suddenly going to see more snaps. He’s probably all too happy to throw them and newly acquired Demaryius Thomas out on the field, but he will have to be smart with his play calling. Without adjustments for the other players, DeAndre Hopkins will have to work harder to get open. If he has to do it all then there’s little chance it will all get done. I shouldn’t doubt what he can do though.

We saw last year what this team is when injuries get the best of them and O’Brien doesn’t change up the way he coaches. The adjustments won’t have to be as dramatic as they were before, but the game plan can’t be the same as it was last week. He is going to have to put on a coaching performance that gets him in the top ten coach of the year candidates list. He’s going to have to keep adjusting in order to make sure his game plan works for whoever is on the field. He’s also going to have to make sure the rest of his staff does the same.

Romeo Crennel is going to have to put his thinking cap on extra tight this week. He will be without his last starting cornerback, Jonathan Joseph, because of an injury suffered against the Dolphins. It might only be one game, but it’s a game Houston can win if the defense can keep up its level of play. That means he is going to have to get creative again with the safeties and the coverages. If Case Keenum, or any future quarterbacks they face can read those coverages and attack these less than ideal corners with impunity then it’s going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

There is going to be a lot on the position coaches this week too. They have just a short window to make sure these guys that will get more playing time know everything they need. That means every check, every adjustment and every nuance that needs to be executed. The margin of error will be razor thin and mental mistakes will have a bigger impact on the outcome of this week’s game.

The winning streak can extend to six if O’Brien and Crennel put together something spectacular with the planning and preparation before the game. Once the lights go on there is little they can do if the players have mental mistakes that lead to points for the other team. The Texans have a bye in Week 10 to give them some breathing room but a win this week in Denver will keep them in the driver’s seat for the division.

 

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Houston's magic number stays at 2

Astros drop series finale to Mariners after rough start by Greinke

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With their magic number at 2 to secure their spot in the 2020 MLB postseason, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for this three-game series' finale and rubber game. Here are the highlights from the game:

Final Score: Mariners 3, Astros 2.

Record: 28-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

Greinke unable to complete five innings

While the Astros were being held scoreless, the Mariners were putting up runs on Zack Greinke. They took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles followed by an RBI-double with one out. Greinke would stop the damage there, then looked to settle in over the next few frames.

He allowed just one baserunner in the second through fourth innings, a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, the Mariners would knock him out of the game by getting a one-out single that would come around to score on a two-out RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single to extend the lead to 3-0. Greinke faced one more batter, allowing a single before Dusty Baker would take the ball and move to the bullpen. His final line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 92 P.

Astros try a late rally, come up short

On the other end, the Astros were unable to break through against Nick Margevicius, getting just one hit and two walks through the first four innings. They had a chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth, starting the inning with back-to-back singles before a walk loaded the bases with one out to turn the lineup over. They'd come up empty, though, with George Springer striking out before a long flyball to center by Jose Altuve to end the inning.

After finishing the fifth for Greinke, Andre Scrubb returned for a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out walk. Still 3-0, Blake Taylor took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a leadoff single and two-out walk to keep Seattle from extending their lead. Houston had another chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting two runners in scoring position, but again would strand them.

Cy Sneed was the next reliever out for the Astros, working around a two-out walk to send the game on to the ninth. The Astros would avoid the shutout, getting a two-RBI single by pinch-hitting Josh Reddick in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. That's as close as they'd come, though, as the Mariners would eventually get the final out to take the series and keep the Astros' magic number stagnant at 2.


Up Next: There is one series left in the regular season for Houston, and it awaits them in Arlington with a four-game series against the Rangers, who are well eliminated from playoff contention. The first of the four games will start at 7:05 PM Central on Thursday with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53 ERA) for Texas and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33 ERA) for the Astros.

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