Astros make it three straight wins

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Back in Houston after the road trip last week, the Astros looked to extend their two-game winning streak to start the series with the Royals. Here's how the game wound up:

Final Score: Astros 6, Royals 4

Record: 21-14, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (3-4, 4.17 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Jakob Junis (3-3, 5.52 ERA)

1) More long balls lead another big offensive night

The Astros picked up where the left off over the weekend, getting another strong offensive night highlighted by several home runs. George Springer started things off with a solo dinger in the bottom of the first to give Houston a 1-0 lead, then Carlos Correa doubled that lead with a solo shot of his own to extend his hitting streak to 16 games and make it a 2-0 game in the bottom of the second.

Houston threatened to break it open in the third, loading the bases with one out, but would only come away with one run after an RBI-walk from Josh Reddick to extend the lead to 3-0. After the Royals roared back to take a 4-3 lead, it was Robinson Chirinos who put the Astros back in front with a two-run opposite-field home run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-4. That score would hold until the bottom of the eighth when Springer struck again, getting an RBI on what should've been a triple but the Royals were able to get him sliding past third base, but still resulted in an insurance run to make it a 6-4 game.

2) Cole strikes out nine 

Gerrit Cole had an up-and-down night, starting the game with three scoreless innings during which he struck out four, then allowed two-run home runs in two consecutive innings over the fourth and fifth. Luckily, Chirinos backed him up with the two-run home run to take him off the hook and put him in position for the win. Cole would finish with the four earned runs on seven hits, zero walks, while striking out nine to increase his league-leading number to 74.

3) Bullpen and defense hold on to the one-run lead

Will Harris was first out of the bullpen to finish off the seventh inning for Cole and was able to get those two outs quickly. That allowed him to continue on in the eighth, but after loading the bases with two outs he was pulled in favor of Hector Rondon. Rondon would get out of the bases loaded jam, but not without an incredible play on defense from Jose Altuve to field a ground ball just in time to get the runner out at first to end the inning. That would set up Roberto Osuna who would enter in the ninth and tally his eighth save of the year after a scoreless ninth.

Up Next: The Astros and Royals will continue this series tomorrow night with first pitch at 7:10 PM from Minute Maid Park. Collin McHugh (3-3, 4.97 ERA) will look to improve his early-season numbers for Houston as he goes up against Danny Duffy (0-1, 3.27 ERA) for Kansas City.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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