Houston now heads out on the road

Astros outscore Rangers to take the series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this three-game set with the Rangers, the Astros were on the field Thursday afternoon trying to end their homestand with a series win by taking the rubber game against Texas. Here is how they fared:

Final Score: Astros 8, Rangers 4.

Record: 21-15, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.91 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (4-2, 2.67 ERA).

Another hot start for the Astros

As they have done many times this year, the Astros put together a hot start to a game by putting up multiple runs in the first inning. In the bottom of the inning, the first three batters all reached base on aggressive early swings, the third bringing in a run on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley. With two runners still on base, Aledmys Diaz would get his season's biggest hit so far, a three-run homer to make it a 4-0 Houston lead.

Greinke throws a quality start 

The Rangers were able to chip away some at the lead against Zack Greinke, getting hits and runs off of him in the second, fourth, and sixth innings sandwiched between quick innings in the first, third, and fifth. Still, he recorded another quality start by finishing six innings and left in line for the win by holding on to the lead given to him by his offense. Greinke's final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 104 P.

Meanwhile, the Astros were able to tack on more runs to their total on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the fifth and a solo home run by Martin Maldonado in the sixth, making it a 6-3 game after six frames. Cy Sneed took over on the mound for Greinke to start the seventh, and after a quick 1-2-3 inning, would return for the eighth. The Rangers would make it a two-run game against him, getting a one-out solo home run to make it 6-4.

Houston takes the series to end the homestand

Sneed would retire one more batter, then Cionel Perez entered and erased a walk and a single to get the last out of the inning. Houston was able to push the lead back to four runs in the bottom of the eighth, getting two on base to set up Michael Brantley for two more RBI in this series on a two-run double, making it 8-4. In the non-save situation, Blake Taylor took over on the mound for the top of the ninth and recorded the last three outs to wrap up the win, giving the Astros the series victory.

Up Next: With this homestand complete, Houston will now take to the road to play eleven games over the next nine days, including two doubleheaders. The road trip starts Friday at 8:10 PM Central in Los Angeles with Lance McCullers Jr. (3-2, 5.06 ERA) on the mound for the Astros opposite of Dylan Bundy (4-2, 2.47 ERA) for the Angels.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

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.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome