TEXANS 19, BRONCOS 17

Texans win sixth straight, earn tough 19-17 win in Denver

Shareece Wright made some plays. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Texans didn’t let the altitude in Denver stop their win streak as they got their sixth in a row, 19-17. They caught a break when Broncos kicker Brian McManus missed the final 51-yard field goal as time expired, but defensively they earned it. This was a tough game because each team’s defense limited the running game, and that meant pass rush was a factor. After two weeks of relatively few hits taken, Deshaun Watson took a beating from the Broncos. He took four sacks and with all the pressure ran the ball six times for 38 yards, just two yards short of the team lead for the day.

Houston has been running the ball well recently with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, but they managed only 59 yards between the two of them. On 27 attempts, that’s a 2.2 yard per carry average. Watson averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his scrambles. His still managed a good game through the air where he completed 17 of 24 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

The Texans started the game fast, scoring the first touchdown on an opening drive in Houston’s last 13 games for a 7-0 lead. After rookie safety Justin Reid recovered the day’s only turnover, a fumble by Devontae Booker; Watson found his favorite target DeAndre Hopkins for a 16-yard touchdown. A missed extra point and Houston was leading 13-3 in the second quarter. Ka’imi Fairbairn made both of his field goals on the day and those points were the difference in the game.

The Texans defense had an up and down day. They limited the Broncos to only 75 yards on the ground, but a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Booker tightened the score in the second quarter, 13-10. Denver would take the lead 17-16 after halftime on a tight window throw by Case Keenum to tight end Jeff Heuerman, who seemed to be a thorn in Houston’s side all day. His 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown were big for the Broncos offense, including one to help move the ball closer on the final drive. Houston would take back the lead and hold off the Broncos but there was more than one drive that looked like it could allow the Broncos to regain the lead.

The Texans defense held up on the strength of their front seven. Second half sacks by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney helped end consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, but they weren’t the only ones in Keenum’s face and he was forced to throw the ball away multiple times. The secondary also had another solid day, including Shareece Wright who was starting for the injured Jonathan Joseph. He made a great play on a pass in the end zone to knock it from the hands of Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton to save a touchdown. Ultimately, Denver was able to throw the ball well at the end of the game and had a chance to win it with a field goal.

Another solid win for Houston who was only 30% converting third downs and had seven penalties for 60 yards. DeAndre Hopkins continues to be the most dangerous player on the field, bringing in 10 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. And Bill O’Brien did a great job early on taking advantage of the newly acquired Demaryius Thomas who had three catches for 61 yards in the game. He caught two of them for 49 yards on the opening drive that ended in a touchdown to Jordan Thomas who now has three in the last two games as a rookie. It will be good to see this continue next week as Houston travels to Washington D.C. to face the Redskins.

 

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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