Astros lose a back and forth game to the Rangers

Astros daily report: Rangers 6, Astros 4

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Astros faced the Rangers for game two of three on Tuesday night. Here's a quick recap:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 4

Record: 2-4, fourth in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Shawn Kelley (2-0).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-1).

Star of the game: Carlos Correa looked as healthy as ever in this game, providing some bright spots in the disappointing loss. Correa saved a run in the top of the first, laying out for a ball and throwing it to first just in time for the third out. He also worked a walk at the plate along with a big RBI-double which at the time tied the game.

Notes: George Springer helped Houston get ahead early for the second straight night, starting the game with a single before moving to second on a walk, stealing third, then scoring on an RBI groundout by Michael Brantley. Springer would strike again with a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, extending the lead to 2-0. The Rangers took advantage of Justin Verlander missing his spots in the bottom of the second, tying the game on a two-run home run. After getting two on with no outs in the top of the fifth, Tony Kemp would convert one run with an RBI-groundout to give the Astros the lead back at 3-2. After a strong fourth inning, Verlander got roughed up again in the bottom of the fifth, giving up two runs on three hits and a hit batter all before getting an out in the inning, prompting the end of his night, leaving the game with his team down 4-3. Will Harris came out of the bullpen and did a great job to get out of the mess he inherited, keeping it a one-run game. Carlos Correa came through to tie the game with an RBI-double in the next inning, but the Rangers would go back in front off of Framber Valdez with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. The 6-4 score would go final to even the series.

Up next: Houston will play the rubber match to try and win the series tomorrow night with another 7:05 PM first pitch. Gerrit Cole will be on the mound for Houston and will try to even his record at 1-1 with a win, while Mike Minor will try to do the same on the bump for the Rangers.

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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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