Astros are now 15-11

Astros drop series opener to Padres, snap winning streak

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

After taking care of business against the Rockies with a four-game sweep, the Astros started a three-game series against the Padres in San Diego on Friday. Both teams entered the weekend on winning streaks, with the Padres having won four straight and the Astros eight. Here is what happened when these two surging teams faced off:

Final Score: Padres 4, Astros 3.

Record: 15-11, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Javy Guerra (1-0, 11.17 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-2, 5.74 ERA).

Padres outscore Astros early

Houston wasted no time stringing some hits together, starting at the very beginning of the game. George Springer led things off with a double, followed by back-to-back singles by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to score Springer and take an early 1-0 lead. San Diego responded immediately, though, getting a double and an RBI-single with two outs to quickly tie the game 1-1.

After scoring in the first, the Astros loaded the bases, then did again in the second, but stranded all three runners both times, leaving six on base after two innings, wasting a chance to put up multiple runs early. That would allow the Padres to get a go-ahead in the fourth against Lance McCullers Jr., getting two on base on a walk and hit-by-pitch before a sac bunt would advance the runners, then a sacrifice fly would bring a run in, making it 2-1 Padres.

McCullers Jr. would allow a few more runs to San Diego; walking the leadoff batter in the fourth which would eventually score on a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 3-1, then giving up a leadoff double in the fifth before back-to-back RBI hits with two outs to make it 4-1. His final line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.

Houston claws back, but Padres come out ahead

In the top of the sixth, Houston chipped away at San Diego's lead, getting back-to-back doubles by Taylor Jones and Myles Straw to bring in a run to make it 4-2. In the top of the seventh, Jose Altuve led off with a single, moved to second on a bad throw on the same play, moved to third on a groundout, then scored on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to make it a one-run game at 4-3.

Cy Sneed and Cionel Perez combined for a scoreless bottom of the sixth, followed by Andre Scrubb, who worked around a leadoff walk and two-out single for a scoreless frame of his own. The 4-3 score would be as close as the Astros would come as they would go down scoreless in the top of the eighth and the top of the ninth, snapping their eight-game winning streak and dropping the first game of this three-game series.

Up Next: The middle game of this series between Houston and San Diego will get underway at 8:10 PM on Saturday. The pitching matchup will be Zach Davies (3-2, 3.25 ERA) for the Padres going opposite Brandon Bielak (3-0, 1.69 ERA) for the Astros.

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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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