Astros Wallop the Mariners for Series Sweep

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 21-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After taking the first three of this four-game series with the Mariners, the Astros looked to make it a sweep with a victory on Sunday as they continue to battle for home-field advantage in the postseason. Here is a quick recap of the series finale:

Final Score: Astros 21, Mariners 1.

Record: 94-50, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (16-5, 2.73 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Felix Hernandez (1-6, 6.96 ERA).

1) Houston has a field day at the plate

It was a highly successful day against Seattle's pitching for Houston's offense. It started against Felix Hernandez whom the Astros scored four runs in the second inning after a costly error and two-run home run by Jake Marisnick. They followed that up with a nine-run third inning, knocking Fernandez out of the game as they would get RBIs from Aledmys Diaz, Kyle Tucker, Martin Maldonado, a three-run home run by George Springer and two two-RBI doubles, both in the same inning, by Yordan Alvarez.

After Seattle got on the board with one run in the top of the fourth, the Astros pushed the lead further on a two-RBI double by Kyle Tucker in the bottom of the fifth, making it 15-1. Yordan Alvarez helped score another in the bottom of the sixth, hitting a ground-rule double, then added two more to make it six RBIs on the day as part of a five-run bottom of the seventh to make it a 21-1 advantage for Houston.

2) Cole decimates Seattle's lineup 

With all the offense, Gerrit Cole had himself in line for an easy win. That didn't shorten his day, though, as he would work quickly in inning after inning while racking up another double-digit strikeout start.

He allowed a solo home run in the top of the fourth, the only run he would allow on the day. Though he likely could have finished the game, he would be shut down after eight incredible innings. Cole's final line: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 15 K, 1 HR.

Chris Devenski took over for Cole to wrap things up in the ninth. He would retire Seattle in order, completing the four-game sweep and improving Houston to 94-50 on the year and keeping them on top of the overall league standings.

Up Next: Houston will continue this homestand by starting a three-game series with the A's Monday at 7:10 PM. The pitching matchup for the opener is Zack Greinke (14-5, 3.09 ERA) for the Astros going against former-Astro Mike Fiers (14-3, 3.51 ERA) for Oakland.

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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