CODY STOOTS

Texans player of the game: J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt was a force. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

For the first time in over two years J.J. Watt sacked a quarterback and for the first time in even longer, he looked like himself. Watt was again a force for offenses to worry about despite his team failing yet again to win the game. He would find the Giants passer two more times on his way to a huge day despite another bad loss for the team.

“Personal stats don’t matter at all in a loss,” Watt said. He might be right, but he almost singlehandedly made them matter. 

The play was actually a strip of Eli Manning as Watt darted past the Giants offensive line almost before the snap swatting the right arm of Manning causing the ball to squirt out before New York recovered it. Earlier on the same set of downs, Watt split defenders to smash rookie sensation Saquon Barkley for a rare loss for the Giants rushing attack. Watt would add two other hurries and a tackle to those previous flashes of greatness for a stellar first half. 

Watt picked up where he left off in the third Giants drive of the third quarter. The Giants right tackle struggled to contain Watt as he dispatched the blocking scheme and wrapped up Manning for a 10-yard loss. The Giants would punt one play later. 

Vintage Watt showed up on the next drive on third down. After teammate Angelo Blackson set the Giants back with a sack of his own on first down, two plays later Watt swam past the blocking and wrapped up Manning who saw 99 coming and retreated in a hurry. 

Watt looked to tire during some of the action missing a play here or there but he often drew the most attention or any of the Texans rushers. The Texans defense allowed their first touchdown of the second half to the Giants. He finished with eight tackles, three sacks, three tackles for a loss, and four hits on the quarterback. 

Despite the effort from Watt, the Texans are off to their worst start since 2008 when they began 0-4 before finishing the season 8-8. 

“You don’t expect anyone outside the building to believe in you,” he said. “Rightfully so...All of us need to look in the mirror, analyze ourselves, and figure out what we can do better every single day to find a game to win games."

It is a great sign for the Texans to see Watt look like his old self. The few plays he sat out were expected due to the intensity he had to play with to keep the Giants from putting the Texans away, although it seemed like the Giants were able to wear him down and finally get him blocked late. Any help from the other pass rushers and Watt will shine even brighter. The Colts are next up with hope quickly slipping away for the Texans. 

 

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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