Yankees force another game with Astros unable to put up enough runs

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros fall to Yankees in ALCS Game 5 as bats go quiet

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After taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series by winning games 2, 3, and 4, the Yankees fought back with their backs against the wall to take Game 5 against the Astros 4-1 to extend the series at least one more game.

The most significant offense took place in the first inning, with both James Paxton and Justin Verlander settling in after that. However, it would be the Yankees who would capitalize on a bigger first inning, fueling them to the win. Here is how the game shook out:

Final Score: Yankees 4, Astros 1.

Series: Astros lead 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: James Paxton.

Losing Pitcher: Justin Verlander.

Astros score first, but Yankees tag Verlander with a huge response

After several errors in Game 4, the Astros were able to capitalize on fielding mishaps by the Yankees in the top of the first inning to take an immediate lead. George Springer started the game by grounding a ball through the middle of the infield, getting past James Paxton and unable to be fielded by Gleyber Torres, giving him a leadoff single.

He then moved to second on a passed ball, then on to third on a groundout by Jose Altuve before scoring on a wild pitch, giving Houston the quick 1-0 lead. New York responded with a big first inning of their own against Justin Verlander, getting a leadoff home run from DJ LeMahieu to tie the game before going on to get two baserunners to set up a three-run home run by Aaron Hicks to take a 4-1 lead.

Verlander settles in after the rough first inning to complete seven

The game would continue with the 4-1 score as both James Paxton and Justin Verlander rebounded from their first innings to hold the opposing offense in check. Paxton would surprisingly finish six strong innings, throwing effective pitches that resulted in nine strikeouts against Houston's bats.

Verlander, meanwhile, settled in after the four-run first inning and dominated through his remaining innings, although his offense would be unable to get him any runs while he was still in the game. He would go on to complete seven innings, allowing just one hit in innings two through seven. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 2 HR.

Yankees live to see another day

With Paxton's night done, the Astros threatened in the top of the seventh against New York's bullpen, getting two on base with one out, but both would be left stranded to waste another scoring opportunity. They would then go down in order in the top of the eighth. Brad Peacock took over for Verlander to throw the bottom of the eighth, getting a 1-2-3 frame to send the game to the ninth.

In the top of the ninth, the Astros would come up empty once again, allowing the Yankees to stay alive in the series. The series now shifts to Houston, where the Astros will try to finish things on Saturday without going to a Game 7.

Up Next: With the Yankees forcing another game, the ALCS will move back to Houston for Game 6 and a Game 7 if needed. Game 6 will be Saturday at 7:08 PM Central, with both clubs expected to have a bullpen day.

The Astros playoff 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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