Astros beat Boston for ninth-straight win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 3-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Riding an eight-game winning streak into Boston, the Astros started a weekend series with the defending champion Red Sox in an ALCS rematch from last season. Here's a rundown of the first game of the three-game set:

Final Score: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Record: 30-15, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Will Harris (1-0, 1.23 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.80 ERA).

1) Porcello outlasts Cole before losing lead

Both starting pitchers had their work cut out for them going up against potent lineups at the plate. Gerrit Cole had a very respectable game, working in and out of some trouble to finish five scoreless innings with six hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Rick Porcello had a much more efficient night than Cole, finishing seven scoreless innings, but would allow two runs in the eighth to earn him the loss.

2) Springer breaks through late

After a tough night at the plate through the first seven innings, Houston finally had something to work with after Jake Marisnick led off the eighth with a double. That provided an opportunity for George Springer to blast a go-ahead home run, his 17th of the year, to put the Astros ahead 2-1. They'd make it a three-run inning by working a couple of walks then getting an RBI sac fly from Josh Reddick to extend the lead to 3-1.

3) Bullpen throws four innings of one-run ball

After Cole's night ended relatively early, it was up to Houston's bullpen to throw four innings and keep the Astros in the game. Things weren't looking good in the first of those four innings, with Hector Rondon allowing an RBI-single for the first run of the game, putting Boston up 1-0 at the time. That would be the only run the Red Sox would get, though, with Will Harris throwing a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts, then Ryan Pressly throwing yet another scoreless inning, making it an MLB-record 39 straight appearances. Roberto Osuna took over in the ninth and worked around a one-out double and two-out walk to lock up another save and finish the win.

Up Next: The Astros will continue this series tomorrow with game two of three getting underway at 6:15 PM. Corbin Martin (1-0, 3.38 ERA) will make his second career start for Houston and look to repeat the success of his first as he goes up against Hector Velazquez (1-2, 3.95 ERA) for Boston.

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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