Astros drop series finale to Boston

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-1 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the thrilling walk-off win on Saturday night, the Astros had Justin Verlander on the mound Sunday looking to sweep this series and make it a 5-1 season series with the Red Sox. Here's a rundown of the game:

Final Score: Red Sox 4, Astros 1

Record: 35-19, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez (5-3, 5.04 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Justin Verlander (8-2, 2.38 ERA).

1) Correa picks up where he left off

After driving in the winning run with a walk-off RBI-single the night before, Carlos Correa gave Houston their first run of the day in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI-single. That run would be the only one of the game for Houston, though, as they'd get just four hits during the afternoon.

2) Good, but not good enough for Verlander

Justin Verlander brought his 8-1 record and 2.24 ERA to the mound on Sunday but would have a mediocre start by his standards. Verlander allowed a couple of runs by his own doing, one on a sac fly in the third after a runner made it to third after a couple of wild pitches, Verlander's first of the year.

Boston took the lead in the fourth on a solo home run, then later would make it 3-1 by scoring on a couple of defensive errors for the Astros, giving Verlander three earned runs on the day. His final line: seven innings pitched, six hits, three runs, zero walks, and six strikeouts. The strikeouts moved him over 2,800 in his career, ending his day at 2,801 which is just two away from Cy Young who has 2,803 at number 22 on the all-time leaderboard.

Josh James was first out of Houston's bullpen and pitched a scoreless eighth, then Framber Valdez pitched the ninth during which Boston would extend the lead to 4-1 which would go down as the final score.

3) Diaz exits with yet another leg injury

Aledmys Diaz would exit the game after crossing home in the first inning, tweaking his hamstring and making yet another Houston player to go out with a leg issue. Tyler White would come in to cover first base allowing Yuli Gurriel to move to second, then later in the game Tony Kemp would pinch-hit and move to second and Gurriel back to first. It's unclear so far how much time Diaz will miss.

This injury would come just one day after catcher Max Stassi left a game with a knee issue, resulting in the call-up of Garret Stubbs to take over the second catcher's spot behind Robinson Chirinos.

Up Next: With this series in the books the Astros will finish this homestand with a three-game series with their old NL-Central rivals, the Cubs. They'll start the series with a Memorial Day game which will get started at 1:10 PM and feature pitchers Gerrit Cole (4.5, 4.11 ERA) for Houston and Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.38 ERA) for Chicago.

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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