Tough way to lose

Watson stars, but Brady dooms Texans in 36-33 loss

Brandin Cooks makes the game-winning catch with 23 seconds left. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Texans almost did something they had never done before -- beat the Patriots in Foxboro. But in the end, they came up short again. 

They gave Tom Brady a chance late, and he took advantage. Brady threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game with 23 seconds left and the Patriots rallied to beat the Texans 36-33 in a heartbreaker for Houston.

Brady was phenomenal, completing 25 of 35 for 378 yards, the five TDs, one turnover on a fumble and his 50th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. The Patriots went 75 yards on eight plays on the winning drive and Brandin Cooks made a brilliant catch on the game-winner.

Offensively, the Texans did everything they needed to do to win the game. Deshaun Watson was outstanding in his second career start. He was 22 of 32 for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards on eight carries and constantly eluded pressure. In fact,  the Texans played as well on offense as they have during the Bill O’Brien era. Watson was sharp, elusive and made plays. O’Brien’s playcalling was outstanding and tailored to Watson’s game.

But when it mattered, it was too much Brady. He did what he has done throughout his career. The Texans defense simply could not make enough plays when it mattered. 

Even losing the game, the future might be bright for the 1-2 Texans. They appear to finally have an answer at quarterback. He made one bad pass (the second pick was on a last second Hail Mary) but played well throughout and gave the Texans a chance to win.

The Texans had more yards (417-396), led in time of possession by five minutes, sacked Brady five times and led in the fourth quarter against the Super Bowl champs. They came within inches of winning the game on a late Corey Moore interception, but he could not hold the ball, and Brady made no mistakes after that.

The Texans held their own in the first half and trailed only 21-20. Watson was 12 of 16 for 123 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 27 yards on six carries, but for the most part the Patriots did a solid job of keeping him contained from breaking a big run.

The interception was bad, and looked like a miscommunication with Hopkins, who had four catches for 38 yards in the half and finished the game with seven for 78.

The defense had some breakdowns, leading to three Brady touchdown passes, but also pressured Brady and scored on a sack/fumble.

It set them up for a terrific second half, and a game the Texans had every chance to win.

But in the end, it was too much Brady. Again. And the Texans came up short in Foxboro.

Again.

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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