Astros win their home opener

Astros daily report: Astros 3, A's 2

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Astros played their first game in front of the home crowd at Minute Maid Park on Friday night against the A's. Here's a quick recap:

Final Score: Astros 3, A's 2.

Record: 3-5, fourth in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Collin McHugh (1-1).

Losing pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1).

Star of the game: Carlos Correa has been very strong to start his season, and showed more of that strength tonight with a few great plays on defense then arguably the biggest hit of the night, the solo home run in the bottom of the fourth which gave Houston the lead they never relinquished.

Notes: After going scoreless the first two innings, the A's looked to strike first, getting a leadoff double in the top of the third before eventually loading the bases with two outs, but McHugh got a big strikeout of Khris Davis to end the threat. The Astros would take advantage, getting an RBI-single from Alex Bregman in the bottom of the inning to make it 1-0. A leadoff walk in the top of the fourth would bite McHugh after the runner advanced to third on a couple of groundouts then scoring on a two-out single to tie the game 1-1. Carlos Correa gave the Astros the lead right back in the bottom of the inning, though, with a solo home run to make it 2-1. Houston would load the bases in the same inning but left all three runners stranded. McHugh would hold on to the one-run lead, getting through six innings before Houston went to their bullpen in the top of the seventh to bring out Hector Rondón who threw a scoreless frame. The Astros extended their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI-double from Jose Altuve, then Ryan Pressly held things with a scoreless eighth. Roberto Osuna, despite giving up a run to get the A's within a run, would get the save.

Up next: This series against Oakland will continue tomorrow night with first pitch at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley will get his second start for Houston while Aaron Brooks will be on the mound for the A's. Houston would take their first series of the year with a win.

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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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