Houston lives to see another day

Astros avoid elimination with ALCS Game 4 win

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With the Astros having lost the first three games, an uphill battle presented itself to not only win the game to force another game but needed four straight to advance to the World Series. With the Rays carrying all the momentum into ALCS Game 4, Houston needed to get something going quick to shift things their way.

They would get another early spark from Jose Altuve, along with a strong start from Zack Greinke, to get into the win column in the ALCS. They make it a 3-1 series lead for the Rays, forcing a Game 5. Here is a quick recap of Game 4:

Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3.

Series: TB leads 3-1.

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke.

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow.

Altuve brings in some early runs as Greinke has a solid start

For the third time this series, Jose Altuve would put the Astros ahead 1-0 in the first inning with a solo home run. This one was possibly the sweetest, changing the narrative off of his fielding miscues and back to his success at the plate. That success continued in his next at-bat in the bottom of the third, when he would get a rare (in this series) RBI with a runner in scoring position, a double to bring in Martin Maldonado, who worked a one-out walk earlier in the frame.

That put the Astros ahead 2-0, but the Rays would quickly respond in the top of the fourth against Zack Greinke, getting a two-run home run off the bat of Randy Arozarena to tie it up 2-2. Greinke would otherwise do well, pitching into the sixth when he would face some traffic with back-to-back one-out singles. Dusty Baker would come out to have a conversation with him, ultimately leaving him in, which proved to be the right call as he would make it through the inning. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 93 P.

Astros force Game 5

Greinke would leave in line for the win, with that jam-escaping sixth inning taking place with a 4-2 lead. The two runs that had the Astros ahead came courtesy of George Springer, who would capitalize on a one-out single by Martin Maldonado by crushing a two-run go-ahead homer.

Cristian Javier would take over on the mound in the top of the seventh and erased a two-out single for a scoreless inning. He kept going in the top of the eighth, a perfect inning with two strikeouts. He would go back to the mound in the top of the ninth to try and finish it off, but after a leadoff walk, Dusty Baker would bring in Ryan Pressly. Despite allowing a two-out RBI-double, he would get the save to wrap up the win for Houston. The Astros avoid elimination with the victory and force another game in the ALCS as they try to become the second team to come back from down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series.

Up Next: ALCS Game 5 will start a bit earlier on Thursday, with first pitch at 4:07 PM Central. Neither team has announced who will start on the mound as the Astros try to keep the series going.

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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