Houston ends their losing streak

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 4-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their string of bad luck and unexpectedly bad baseball continuing throughout the week and adding up to a five-game losing streak, the Astros were likely desperate to right the ship and avoid a four-game series sweep with a win on Sunday. Here is a quick recap of the finale with the A's:

Final Score: Astros 4, A's 1.

Record: 79-46, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (13-4, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brett Anderson (10-9, 4.06 ERA).

1) Great start for Greinke, gets win number 200

Zack Greinke got out to a hot start on Sunday afternoon, getting through the first three innings perfectly by retiring all nine batters in order and doing so with a very low pitch count. The A's struck first though, getting their first hit with a leadoff solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning and go up 1-0.

Greinke struggled a little more in that inning, allowing a walk and a single to give Oakland a chance to extend their lead, but he was able to strand them and get out of the inning. He would go on to hold Oakland scoreless over the next three innings, completing seven innings while allowing just one run en route to another win.

His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. The win was number 200 for Greinke's career, moving him up another spot in the all-time win leaders list.

2) Bregman breaks Houston out of the slump

After wasting multiple chances early in the game, resulting in five stranded runners through the first four innings, the Astros were able to finally break through in the fifth. Back-to-back singles to start the inning gave Houston a couple of baserunners, with a groundout for the first out moving Josh Reddick to third.

Instead of tying the game on a sacrifice fly, the second out was a ball to shallow to allow Reddick to tag home. That brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and he was able to get Houston their first runs of the day with a two-out three-run home run to put the Astros in front 3-1.

After a leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the sixth, Yuli Gurriel would extend Houston's lead to 4-1 with an RBI-double into the left-field corner. With Greinke's day done after seven terrific innings, Houston went to their bullpen starting in the eighth with Ryan Pressly who kept the three-run lead by tossing a scoreless inning. Roberto Osuna took over in the ninth and earned the save by finishing off the win to end Houston's losing streak.

Up Next: The Astros will be flying back to Houston on Sunday before kicking off a ten-game homestand with a four-game series with the Tigers starting on Monday night. The opening pitching matchup is expected to be Wade Miley (11-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston going against Edwin Jackson (3-5, 8.62 ERA) for Detroit.

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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