COLTS 30, TEXANS 23

Texans vs Colts 1: Good, bad and ugly

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In the battle for the early AFC South lead, the Texans lose a close one to the Colts 30-23. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson had a good game, minus one play here or there. 23/34 for 308 yards and a touchdown to go along with 32 yards rushing on three carries. The three sacks he took weren't really his fault either. One bad decision turned the ball over, but he kept them to a minimum as well.

-DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills both helped Watson's stat line. The duo combined for 13 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown. Moving forward, if the receiving corps stays healthy, I can see this stat line becoming more of a norm. Awesome to see Hopkins have a capable No. 2 on the other side.

-Phillip Gaines had a decent game. For a guy who was injured and has never found a home, he's seemed to have found one in the Texans secondary room which has doubled as an infirmary. He's always had good size and athleticism, but never stayed healthy. (I wrote this earlier in the 2nd half, and he got carted off with 1:46 left in the game. I jinxed him.)

The Bad

-Midway through the 1st quarter, Jonathan Joseph tipped a sideline pass to Chester Rogers. Rogers ended up catching it off the tip and managed to stay in bounds. JJo made a decent play on a ball, but to no avail. That drive eventually led to the Colts' first score and capped a 12 play, 94 yard drive.

-After settling for another field goal instead of a touchdown before halftime, the Texans came out to start the second half by giving up another touchdown drive. This is how they always end up losing games by not stopping opponents and trading field goals for touchdowns.

-With 9:31 left in the game down 28-16, Deshaun Watson threw an interception on a pass intended for Duke Johnson. Johnson was open, but Watson sailed it over his head and into the arms of Pierre Desir. It was a poor decision in an otherwise good game Watson played.

The Ugly

-Tashaun Gipson left the game with a back injury early on and never returned. Will Fuller was also ruled out with a hamstring injury. Jonathan Joseph banged up his shoulder. At this point, I think I'm going to get in shape again. They may need me to play a few snaps. Expect open tryouts on Kirby soon.

-Awful call by the refs cost the Texans a touchdown on their second field goal. Watson was in the grasp of Justin Houston, but managed to keep himself upright long enough to complete what was though to be a touchdown pass to Hopkins. However, the refs blew the play dead saying he was sacked. Protecting the quarterbacks at all costs cost the Texans here.

-Situational football and clock management are like an incurable disease for Bill O'Brien. Down 28-23 in the 4th quarter with about 3:23 left, O'Brien waited until about 2:44 left to call a timeout and call in a safety and free kick. Good idea, poor execution. Know the situation and call for that safety immediately. Or, call the timeout ASAP without letting so much time run off. Will someone get this man a Coaching For Dummies book please?

After Starting 0-13 in Indy, the Texans won three of the next four. Today's loss shouldn't start a new streak. While Watson ended the game with two interceptions, one is for sure his fault, while the other was a great play made on a tipped/dropped ball. While they didn't run the ball well as a team (24 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown), they held the Colts to 62 yards rushing. Perhaps because Jacoby Brissett torched them for 326 yards and four touchdowns passing. I understand they'll need any warm bodies to play defensive back for them in the next few weeks, but what about a pass rush to help those guys? Oh, I forgot, they traded Jadeveon Clowney for a pack of cigarettes and a gas station tuna fish sandwich. They could've traded him long time ago for better draft picks, but didn't listen to me. Such is life. Hopefully this team will have the "next man up" mentality and guys will step up. If not, it could be a long rest of the season.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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