Astros take first game of the series

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After winning the series against the Royals earlier in the week, the Astros turned the page to a four-game set with the Rangers starting on Thursday night. Here's how the first game of the series panned out:

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 2

Record: 23-15, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wade Miley (3-2, 3.18 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Mike Minor (3-3, 2.68 ERA)

1) Six decent innings for Miley 

Wade Miley added another good start to his 2019 season, going six innings and keeping the Rangers to two runs in that span. The two runs came on a two-run home run in the top of the fourth, which was one of just two hits he allowed on the night. Those two runs on two hits combined with two walks and seven strikeouts would add up to a good start. The seven strikeouts matched his season-best so far.

2) Offense backs him up 

George Springer smashed his 13th home run of the early season in the bottom of the third which put Houston ahead 1-0 at the time. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the Astros strung together some hits and a walk to load the bases before Alex Bregman hit a sac fly to tie the game at 2-2. They were unable to convert any more of those runners, though, keeping the game tied until the bottom of the next inning when Josh Reddick put Houston back ahead 3-2 on an RBI single.

Houston threatened again in the bottom of the eighth, looking to add some insurance runs to their one-run lead. They loaded the bases with one-out, then after a strikeout went to a pinch-hitting Michael Brantley who worked an RBI-walk to make it a 4-2 game. That's all they would come away with, but that was enough to get the win.

3) Another dominant showing from the bullpen

Will Harris took over in the seventh and worked around a one-out walk to keep the Astros in front by one run. Ryan Pressly pitched the eighth, just another ho hum scoreless inning to keep his record streak going. That set up Roberto Osuna for another save opportunity, which he converted thanks to a homer-robbing catch by Josh Reddick.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game series will get underway tomorrow night at 7:10 PM. The Astros will send out their ace, Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.86 ERA), to face off against Lance Lynn (4-2, 5.75 ERA) for the Rangers.

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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