Houston's bullpen woes continue

Astros blow four-run lead before losing in extras to Giants

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After snapping a five-game losing streak with a win to start the three-game series with the Giants on Monday, the Astros had a chance to secure the series victory on Tuesday. Here is how the middle game went:

Final Score (10 innings): Giants 7, Astros 6.

Record: 7-10, third in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Trevor Gott (1-0, 1.50 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Cy Sneed (0-3, 6.75 ERA).

Astros build another early lead behind another solid Bielak start

The Giants would strike first on Tuesday, hitting a solo home run off of Brandon Bielak in the top of the second to grab a 1-0 lead. Houston's offense would answer right away in the bottom of the inning, getting a one-out triple by Kyle Tucker, followed by an RBI-double by Martin Maldonado to tie the game. Later in the frame, a go-ahead two-RBI double by Josh Reddick gave Houston a 3-1 lead.

Alex Bregman made it a three-run lead in the bottom of the third, leading off the inning with a solo home run. San Francisco would get that run back in the top of the fifth, getting a run on a walk and two hits in the inning, making it 4-2. With that extended inning, Bielak would hit 84 pitches, and that would be it for him. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

Houston extends their lead, San Francisco rallies to tie and force extras

First out of the bullpen was Enoli Paredes for the top of the sixth. He made it a 1-2-3 inning, retiring the Giants in order. In the bottom of the inning, the first three batters all singled to load the bases with no outs. It looked like it may go to waste after a third-to-home double play left runners on first and second with two outs, but Myles Straw would deliver an RBI-single. Jose Altuve got a much-needed RBI-single in the next at-bat to push the lead to 6-2.

Paredes returned in the top of the seventh but would get two outs and walk a batter before Dusty Baker went to his bullpen again to bring out Blake Taylor. Taylor would get the third out, but not before issuing a walk to set up a three-run home run by former-Astro Hunter Pence, making it a one-run game at 6-5.

Still a one-run game in the top of the eighth, Andre Scrubb took over on the mound and kept the lead intact by stranding a leadoff walk and two-out single to complete the inning. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth for Houston's offense, they would bring in their current closer, Ryan Pressly, for the second-straight night. He would blow the save, allowing a walk and single to put runners on the corners to set up the tying RBI-single. He would recover to get the final two outs, sending the 6-6 game to the bottom of the ninth, where Houston would come up empty, forcing extra innings.

Giants get a go-ahead run and win in extras

In what has seemed like a regular occurrence in 2020, Cy Sneed was on the mound to start the tenth inning. He would not fare any better than his last outing, where he blew a one-run lead in the thirteenth and allowed a walk-off to Oakland, allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning to put the Giants ahead 7-6 for their first lead of the night. He would get two more outs before Houston brought in their new reliever, Brooks Raley, to get the third out.

In the bottom half, George Springer would pinch-run for Michael Brantley, and moved to third on a groundout to start the inning, but would get left stranded there as the Astros would fall in extra innings, allowing the Giants to tie the series.

Up Next: The final game of this three-game set will start Wednesday at 6:10 PM Central, an earlier start than the first two games. The pitching matchup is not yet finalized with San Francisco still taking their rotation day-by-day, but Houston will send Zack Greinke (0-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound.

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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