Astros win fifth straight game in Greinke's debut

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 11-6 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a week of waiting, Tuesday night was finally the night Houston had been looking forward to since last Wednesday: Zack Greinke's first start in an Astros uniform. He was going up against a familiar foe in the Colorado Rockies. Here is a quick rundown of the first matchup of the quick two-game series:

Final Score: Astros 11, Rockies 6.

Record: 74-40, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (11-4, 3.08 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-4, 5.95 ERA).

1) Not the best start for Greinke, but still a win

Zack Greinke had an efficient first three innings in his new uniform, allowing just two hits over that span, but erasing both to keep the Rockies off the board. He faced his first real test in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single then a walk to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch advanced both runners, setting up a sac fly for the Rockies followed by an RBI-double to trim Houston's lead to 3-2.

Greinke made it out of that inning but would face another high-leverage situation in the top of the fifth after a leadoff double then error put two runners on yet again. He would get out of the jam, though, with a flyout and double play to end the inning.

Greinke would have an unfortunate sixth inning, however. He allowed a leadoff infield single, then a one-out walk, putting two on base for a two-out three-run game-tying home run by Colorado to make it 5-5. He would get through the sixth, but it still ended his night on a sour note. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

2) Alvarez provides some quick run support for his new pitcher

After going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, Alex Bregman got the first hit of the night with a leadoff double to start the bottom of the second. That brought up Yordan Alvarez, who demolished a ball 436 feet for his fourteenth home run of the year to put Houston ahead 2-0 early.

They would extend the lead further in the bottom of the third, getting an RBI-single by Michael Brantley to make it 3-0. After the Rockies trimmed the lead to one run in the top of the fourth, Yuli Gurriel put it back to two with a two-out solo home run, making it 4-2. In the bottom of the fifth, George Springer hit a one-out single, moved to third on a single by Jose Altuve, then scored on an RBI-groundout by Michael Brantley, extending the lead to 5-2.

After Colorado tied the game in the top of the sixth, Carlos Correa put Houston right back in front with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the inning. George Springer would tack on another later in the inning, getting a one-out RBI-single to extend the lead to 7-5.

3) Tacking on some insurance

Chris Devenski was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, taking the mound for the top of the seventh. He would snap his three-game streak of scoreless innings, allowing a one-out solo home run to Charlie Blackmon to cut the lead to one run at 7-6 before getting through the inning.

Carlos Correa would strike again in the bottom of the seventh to add on more runs. After a leadoff single by Michael Brantley and walk by Alex Bregman, Correa would drive both in on a two-RBI double. Yuli Gurriel was up next and launched his second home run of the night to further pad the lead at 11-6.

Hector Rondon took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and retired the Rockies in order. Collin McHugh wrapped things up by working around a couple of walks for a scoreless ninth, giving Houston their fifth straight win.

Up Next: These two teams will wrap up this entire two-game series in under 24 hours with the finale tomorrow at 1:10 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Peter Lambert (2-2, 5.71 ERA) on the mound for Colorado while Houston will send out Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.87 ERA) who will be looking to continue his hot streak and add to his league-leading number of strikeouts.

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

Photo by Getty Images.

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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