Houston can wrap up the World Series on Tuesday

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 6 Preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
After losing the first two games of the World Series at home disappointingly, many were rightly questioning if there would be any more games played in Houston this season. Three games later, and the Astros have regained their momentum and once again look like the 107-win team that earned them the home-field advantage. Now they get to use it, getting a chance to clinch in Game 6, or 7 if necessary, at home. Tuesday's Game 6 will also be an opportunity for Justin Verlander to lift his team and notch another achievement of his own. Here is a breakdown of the game:

Game Facts

When: Tuesday, 7:07 p.m Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, TX.

TV: FOX.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Verlander vs. Strasburg.

Series: Astros lead 3-2.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Nationals 5, Astros 4Minute Maid Park, Houston TXCole (L) vs Scherzer (W)
Game 2Nationals 12, Astros 3Minute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander (L) vs Strasburg (W)
Game 3Astros 4, Nationals 1Nationals Park, Washington D.C.Greinke (ND) vs Sanchez (L)
Game 4Astros 8, Nationals 1Nationals Park, Washington D.C.Urquidy (W) vs Corbin (L)
Game 5Astros 7, Nationals 1Nationals Park, Washington D.C.Cole (W) vs Ross (L)
Game 6Tuesday, 10/29, 7:07 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander vs Strasburg
Game 7*Wednesday 10/30, 7:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXGreinke vs Sanchez+

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

With the DH back in play, Houston's offense needs to score early and often again

Although they didn't seem to miss a step without it, the Astros will be back in their AL ballpark for Game 6, which means they don't have to lose a position spot to get Yordan Alvarez in the lineup. They'll be able to put him back in his usual DH spot, getting a full-strength nine-bat order that will make them even more dangerous than the team that outscored Washington 19-3 over the last three games.

No matter the lineup or order of it, Houston will need to try and replicate the early-game success they had in Washington, scoring runs early to take control of the game and keep the Nationals out of reach. It will be a tough task going up against Stephen Strasburg, but this historic offense is also nearly matchup-proof. Look for a big game from Jose Altuve, who loves to light a spark in these big-moment games.

Verlander needs to learn from Cole and notch another milestone

Okay, not necessarily literally. However, Gerrit Cole was terrific in Game 5, rebounding from his disappointing loss in Game 1 to keep the Astros rolling and finish his incredible season on a high note. Justin Verlander will be looking to do the same in Game 6, erasing the memory of his Game 2 loss to keep his team in the game to potentially finish the series.

While a lengthy outing would be welcome by Houston, considering they only had to use two bullpen arms on Sunday, then had the day off on Monday, the bullpen will be ready to back Verlander up should he need to come out earlier than usual. He will likely be hoping to go at least five innings and leave with a lead, however, because he's still in search of joining another exclusive list: pitchers to earn a win in a World Series game. Verlander has started 6 World Series games in his career, including Game 2 this year, and is 0-5 in those. Getting his first victory in the biggest stage would also mean that his team gets to do something for the first time...

A chance to finish in front of the home crowd

While the 2017 World Series win will always the sweetest since it was the first for the franchise, the 2019 Astros have a chance to do something the team two years ago didn't: win it at Minute Maid Park. While the series did not go down as quickly as initially expected by many with Houston making easy work of Washington, that does provide a silver lining should the Astros take care of business at home in Game 6. Not only will the crowd be roaring and ready to go from the first pitch, if they can cheer their team on to the World Series win, but they will also blow the roof, which will be closed, right off.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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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