PANTHERS 16, TEXANS 10

Texans vs Panthers: Good, bad and ugly

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Texans moved to 2-2 with a 16-10 loss to the Panthers. Winning the turnover battle and going +46 yards in rushing differential is making my analytic look bad two weeks in a row. Here's some other observations I had:

The Good

-Whitney Mercilus, JJ Watt, and Brennan Scarlett all had strip sacks of Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen. All three were recovered by the Texans (Carlos Watkins, Watt, and Benardrick McKinney). Playing against an inexperienced quarterback, this was the type of performance you expected from the pass rush.

-Last week, the team totaled 39 rushing yards in a win. This week, they got 136 yards on the ground in a losing effort. The fact that they were able to run the ball against a tough Panthers defense was a good sign for things to come.

-Duke Johnson seems to be hitting his stride. He had eight touches for 88 yards and looked at lot more comfortable in the offense. He ran hard and finished his six runs with some force, very uncharacteristic of him. Maybe Carlos Hyde is rubbing off on him? Or maybe he knows the oppotunity he has and isn't trying to lose it? Either way, I was pleased with his performance.

The Bad

-The Texans had 16 total yards to start their second possession of the game towards the end of the 1st quarter. They finished the quiarter with 53 after a couple good plays. To sputter against the Panthers defense isn't a big deal, but to look that inept to start the game was a little unnerving. Boiled down to a three yard average on their first 19 plays.

-Deshaun Watson was sacked six times today. A lot of those were on him. He holds onto the ball too long trying to make something happen and sometimes would not be aware of the rush around him. The offensive line can't keep taking the blame for Watson's lack of awareness and his committment to be a superhero.

-Watson's sacks lost a total of 32 yards, which left the team with 128 yards passing. Any time a team has more rushing yards than passing yards and wins the turnover battle, you'd think they'd win. However, the Texans create new ways to lose sometimes and blow my turnover/rushing yardage differential analytic out of the water.

The Ugly

-Kenny Stills limped out of bounds to end the first quarter and was taken back to the locker room for more observations.All we know is that it was a hamstring injury of some sort. Losing him hurt an already struggling offense. If they have to go it without him for an extended period of time, the offense may conrinue to struggle.

-DeAndre Hopkins threw an interception on a trick play pass intended for Carlos Hyde when the Texans were in the red zone in the second quarter. Plays like this are totally unacceptable! Sure, Hopkins threw a bad pass, but he's not a quarterback and that playcall was idiotic. I'm sure Bill O'Brien will either have a smartass reply, or use The Kubiak. (He owned it at halftime according to Lindsay Czarniak.)

-The challenge on Christian McCaffrey's catch early in the fourth quarter was dumb! It was clearly a catch when watching the replay. Whoever told Bill O'Brien to challenge that should be slapped, and O'Brien should slap himself as well. Not only did it cost them a timeout, but it was compounded by the other two timeouts they wasted in the second half, especially whgen they couldn't stop the clock on the Panthers' game-icing drive. O'Brien continues to prove his ineptness when it comes to game managment.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. More sacks, more baffling play calls, more game management ineptitude, more Watt whiffing on sacks in crucial situations, more of the same old crap in general. This was a game the Texans should've won and will regret when the playoff race is tight. That is if they manage to find themselves in the playoff race. Keep playing down to their competition and being their own worst enemies will take them out of the race before it starts.


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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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