TEXANS-BILLS

Texans Player of the Game: Johnathan Joseph

Jonathan Joseph had a big game. Bob Levey/Getty Images

He is one of the elder statesmen of the secondary and with veteran intuition Johnathan Joseph made the biggest play of his season,  picking off Nathan Peterman and taking the lead for the Texans on their way to squeaking out the win on Sunday against the Bills. 

On second and 10 with just under two minutes left, Peterman let one rip towards Kelvin Benjamin but Joseph stepped in front of the Bills pass and returned it 28 yards for the go-ahead score. 

"We had a great call for the defense," Joseph said. "Zone pressure and I think Kareem (Jackson) did a great job all day disguising things and we hadn't called that play all day."

The Texans trailed by three points but had first and goal from the one. Unfortunately, the red zone woes continued. The Texans managed to just tie the game, giving the Bills the ball back with a chance to take the lead. 

With no timeouts and just under two minutes, the Bills were committed to passing with their backup. Joseph made them pay. The ensuing drive saw Kareem Jackson add an interception of his own. 

Jadeveon Clowney joked after the game it was an "old guy" day with two of the longest-tenured Texans making plays in the game. Jackson laughed when he heard that and implored the young guys to play until they have an "old guy" game. 

Joseph was active on the day scoring six tackles and adding a couple of pass deflections to his stat line. He said postgame he hurt his shoulder earlier in the game but stayed in. It was his first interception of the season. Joseph tied Jackson for the Texans career lead in interceptions with his grab making it 14 for his career. Jackson would break that tie with his 15th on the next drive. 

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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