Texans Preview By Texans Chick

Texans Preview By Texans Chick

It isn't Sunday yet, so Eagles and Texans fans are still getting along.  As you know, I've been writing about the Eagles for AOL's NFL Fanhouse.  In doing so I've met some cool people from all over the place, including Texas.

To give Eagles fans an idea of what the Texans are all about we have a special guest.  Stephanie Stradley, who I'm convinced was from South Philly in a former life, writes the Houston Chronicle’s FanBlog: Texans and the Texans NFL Fanhouse page.   Stephanie is also a moderator on the Texans
official message board.

She even used the word y'all in her preview.  Awesome.

Stephanie's Texans preview for an Eagles Fan:

Dear Eagles Fans, 

I want to be on record as one of the people who likes Eagles
fans, mostly because y’all loathe the Cowboys just about as much as I do. 

Now, I realize that most of you have a “W” written down for the
game against the Texans, and as a public service, I would suggest that you do
that in pencil, so you can erase it if need be.

You haven’t probably read much about the Texans in the
offseason, other than people saying that they suck and are stupid for not
taking the Best Running Back Evaaaaar. So you might not know much about the changes the Texans have done on
both sides of the ball.

Former Denver
offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak is the new head coach. So far, at least in the preseason, it appears
as though the Texans are learning up the Denver
style offense pretty well. Faster than expected. Former Packers coach, Mike
Sherman has primarily been working with the mostly maligned Texans offensive
line. This is the first year that the
Texans really have anyone worth a crap working coaching the line.

Biggest question mark on offense is how quarterback David
Carr, the young running backs and the line will deal with exotic blitzes. In the preseason, the Texans have given up
the second least amount of sacks with 4 (compared with 17 for the maximum by
any team).

The Denvers-style offense is based on the philosophy that
the defense usually has the best athletes on the field. It tries to defuse that athleticism by trying
to penalize over-pursuit and keeping the defense off-balance. The Texans will
run a lot of bootlegs and dump to the tight ends and running backs. The Texans wide receivers are tall and
physical, and the question will be whether Carr will have enough confidence and
time to get them the ball.

The new defensive coordinator for the Texans is Richard
Smith, formerly of the Dolphins. He is
running an aggressive 4-3 base defense replacing last years 3-4. So, far in the preseason, the Texans have
only given up 3 points in the first quarter against first string offenses. The D line has looked really good and the
question is whether they will be good enough to help with the thinnishness in
the secondary.

The Texans special teams has been a strength of the team
because of their coach, Joe Marciano. They have always outperformed other parts of the team. Kicker Kris Brown
has had an iffy preseason but at least it hasn’t been as bad as Vanderjagt’s.

For those who want to know more than that about the Texans,
I suggest you check out this post.

The Texans have usually done well in their openers, and
Reliant Stadium is sold out and should be packed. It is an extremely loud stadium because the
fans are so close to the field because of the retractable roof.  The roof will be closed for the game. I’ve
been in the first row of a few games, and it is so loud at field level that
your ears ring afterwards.

Anyhow, last preseason the Texans played like crap and then
had the season of crap. I know you can’t
base too much off of the preseason, but at least this preseason the Texans have
looked like a real football team and less like crap. Seriously, before you ink
the W in, check out the offensive and defensive stats of the Texans, especially
the rushing yards.

In sum, what I want to say is that you should not kill or
otherwise harm yourself
if the Texans beat the Eagles.

Regards,
Steph
The Texans Chick

P.S. Oh, and please beat the crap outta Dallas.  Hopefully the Texans will do the same.

P.S.S. If you
are going to the game, show up early because the tailgating is great.  You can find me in the platinum
lot. Be sure to visit the St. Arnold’s
Brewery tailgate because their Houston-made beer is like its own food group.

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

BOX SCORE

MIAMI -- For struggling pitchers, facing the Phillies has become like a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 
Another rival pitcher searching for a cure got it Monday night when the Phillies suffered their 23rd loss in the last 29 games. This time it was Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in leading his club to a 4-1 win over the Phillies, who fell to 6-20 in May (see Instant Replay).

Volquez had gone 16 starts between wins.
 
"Every loss stings, I don’t care who's pitching," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just in a rut. We've got to battle our way out of it. We have to show up tomorrow and get after it. We've got to get more than three or four hits in the game."
 
The Phillies had just four hits in the game. It was the fifth time in the last nine games that they've had four or fewer hits. Only one of the hits was for extra bases and one of the singles was an infield hit.
 
"Once again, we need more offense," Mackanin said.
 
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson completed a difficult month of May by allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, and four runs over six innings.
 
Hellickson surrendered a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the sixth and that was basically the ball game. Dietrich hit a high changeup. Back in April, that pitch would have been at the knees. But Hellickson has misplaced the pitch command that he needs to succeed.
 
Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. In May, however, he went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He was tagged for 35 hits, including nine homers, in 30 2/3 innings.
 
"Command in general," said Hellickson, describing his problem this month. "The biggest thing is not getting strike one, falling behind too much. I'm not getting the quick easy outs I was getting early in the season. I'm trying to get ahead, just missing."
 
Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Marlins over the winter, but it wasn't until this game that he delivered his first win. He entered the game 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts.
 
The win was Volquez's first since Aug. 25, 2016, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Volquez isn't the first struggling pitcher to shine against the Phils recently. Eight days earlier, Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl took a 6.69 ERA into a start against the Phils and pitched five shutout innings. In the series against Colorado, the Phillies were dominated by a pair of rookies. In the only game they won (in a late rally), they were held to one run over six innings by Tyler Anderson, who had entered that game with an ERA of 6.00. On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tim Adleman pitched eight shutout innings against the Phils and gave up just one hit in the best start of his life. He had come into that game with an ERA of 6.19.
 
So Volquez had to be heartened when he saw the Phillies on the schedule.
 
They are the get-well team for pitchers in need of a pick-me-up.
 
It's actually kind of sad.
 
With Odubel Herrera locked in the throes of the worst slump of his life and on the bench and Maikel Franco mired in a 2 for 21 slump and hitting .209, Mackanin is trying to push things a little. He gave Aaron Altherr the green light to steal with one out and runners on the corners in a one-run game in the sixth inning. Altherr was out at second on a close play and Tommy Joseph struck out to leave the runner at third.
 
The Marlins salted the game away in the bottom of the inning on Dietrich's homer.
 
"With our offense, I have to take chances," Mackanin said. "I can't sit around and wait for three hits in a row. We haven't been doing that."
 
The Phils have the worst record in the majors at 17-32.
 
They have lost eight of their last 10 and scored just 15 runs in the losses.
 
"It sucks," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "There's really no other way to put it. It's frustrating. But the only people that are going to help us are ourselves. Nobody's going to go out there and play for us, swing the bats, pitch, play defense. That's on us and we have to do a better job all around.
 
"We all want to be successful and get the job done. We just haven't been hitting the ball. There's no other way to put it. But the good thing about baseball is we play every day so we turn the page and come back tomorrow and try to get it done."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.