FRED FAOUR

Texans pull off another ugly escape in Denver, but are sitting pretty at 6-3

Jordan Thomas caught the opening touchdown. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Like a lot of Texans wins, Sunday’s 19-17 victory over Denver was not pretty. Deshaun Watson did not put up cartoon numbers. The offensive line struggled against the Broncos’ rugged defense. The Texans defense struggled at times and forced just one turnover.

In the end, it did not matter. The Texans got two TD passes from Watson to Jordan Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins and a couple key defensive stops when it counted to escape Denver with a win.

Oh, and a missed field goal at the buzzer from Brandon McManus certainly helped salvage the victory.

No matter how non-sexy the win might have been, it looks beautiful in the standings, where the Texans are now 6-3 after their 0-3 start. They are in control in the AFC South with the six straight wins.

And make no mistake, the Broncos were no easy out. Despite their 3-6 record, they have played well, especially at home, where they did lose to two of the best teams in football - the LA Rams and Kansas City.

On Sunday, Denver played the Texans basically even throughout the game, and took its first lead in the third quarter at 17-16. But the Texans answered with a field goal to retake the lead in the fourth. Case Keenum had better yardage numbers than Watson, with 26 of 42 for 290 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans defense responded once they got the lead, with back to back stops that included sacks by Jadeveon Clowney on one drive and J.J. Watt on the other.

The Texans got the ball with over seven minutes left after that, and ran the clock down to 3:29 before giving Keenum and the Broncos another chance. The Broncos nearly took advantage, converting twice on fourth down to set up McManus’ 51-yard field goal attempt to win the game.

He missed wide right, and the Texans get a chance to get home, heal up and get ready for a stretch drive that will include all three remaining divisional games at home.

Watson was a solid 17 of 24 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and a finished third straight game without a turnover, a huge key on Sunday. Hopkins was big again, with 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans were outgained 348-290. They scored a whopping 3 points in the second half. They allowed four sacks and averaged just 3 yards per rush. But they escaped. Would it have been nice to see them make a play at the end to stop the drive? Yes. It always looks better if you make the play to win it rather than have someone on the other team fail. 

Still, so what? Who cares if it was ugly?

Things look pretty attractive from atop the division. And now they have some time to get heathy. 

That would be even more beautiful. 
 

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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