Astros drop series opener to Reds

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 3-2 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a disappointing loss on Father's Day to end their recent homestand, the Astros took to the road this week starting with a three-game series with the Reds in Cincinnati. Here is a quick look at game one of the inter-league matchup:

Final Score: Reds 3, Astros 2.

Record: 48-25, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Luis Castillo (7-1, 2.26 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Wade Miley (6-4, 3.30 ERA).

1) Miley falls off after rain delay

Wade Miley was out to a good start through the early goings in the game, allowing just one hit and a hit batter over the first seven outs before a rain delay tabled the game for nearly an hour. Miley returned to the mound after the delay and was able to pick up where he left off to complete the third inning with a couple of strikeouts to work around a walk.

He stayed effective in the fourth, getting a 1-2-3 inning, but would falter in the fifth by giving up a single and walk to start the inning then three runs and two walks with one out, ending his night on a rough note. Miley's final line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6K.

2) Astros finally score in the seventh, but not enough

In what seemed like the first time in forever (16 innings, to be exact), Houston was finally able to get back on the scoreboard in the seventh inning Monday night by getting a run on an error then later another on an RBI-double by Michael Brantley to trim Cincinnati's lead to 3-2.

Those two runs would be all they'd come away with, though, despite getting plenty of runners on base via nine walks on the night. Houston would strand ten runners in the loss.

3) Bullpen keeps Houston close 

With Miley leaving the game with the bases still loaded and one out in the fifth, it put Hector Rondon in a high-leverage spot to come in and try and limit the damage. Rondon did great, though, getting a double play to end the fifth before going on to throw a scoreless sixth.

Will Harris picked things up in the bottom of the seventh, a scoreless inning to keep the game at one run. Ryan Pressly was out next to pitch the eighth and looked well rested in a scoreless inning.

Up Next: The Astros will continue this series with the Reds with another 6:10 PM start time tomorrow. Houston will have Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.41 ERA) on the mound looking for his tenth win on the year and also seeking to move another spot ahead on the all-time strikeout leaders list. Cincinnati will hand the ball to Anthony DeSclafani (3-3, 4.43 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

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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