Astros extend winning streak to ten games

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: Astros 9, A's 1

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Riding three straight series sweeps, and after a day off on Monday, the Astros were back in action against the A's in Oakland on Tuesday night looking to make it ten straight wins. Here's a rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 9, A's 1

Record: 12-5, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Collin McHugh (3-1).

Losing pitcher: Marco Estrada (0-2).

Star of the game: Alex Bregman had the highlight of the game, a huge grand slam which put Houston up 8-0 in the fourth inning. They ended up being unnecessary insurance runs, but it kept the offense of the Astros firing and keeps their momentum high going into tomorrow night.

Notes: George Springer got the game started in the best way for the Astros, launching a leadoff dinger to put Houston up 1-0. Josh Reddick extended the lead in the top of the second, hitting a two-run home run to make it a 3-0 game. The Astros kept scoring, loading the bases with one out in the top of the fourth before Springer worked an RBI-walk then Alex Bregman busted things open with a two-out grand slam to double the lead to 8-0. Meanwhile, Collin McHugh had a great start, keeping Oakland off the board with just two hits and two walks along with five strikeouts over his six innings of work. The runs kept coming for Houston, getting an RBI from Robinson Chirinos to extend the lead further to 9-0. Josh James took over on the mound for the Astros in the seventh and threw two scoreless innings, keeping the shutout going into the ninth. Reymin Guduan made his first appearance since swapping roster spots with Framber Valdez, but it was a rough one, loading the bases and allowing a sac fly to end the shutout, ending his appearance early. Chris Devenski entered to clean things up and get the last two outs to wrap up the win.

Up Next: Houston and Oakland will wrap up the short two-game series tomorrow night with first pitch at 9:07 PM. The Astros will have Wade Miley on the mound looking to make it eleven wins in a row for Houston and improve his 1-1 record and 3.45 ERA, while the A's will look to Frankie Montas who sits at 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

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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