Houston is now third in the division

Astros swept by A's as losing streak grows to five games

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With Oakland having already locked up the series victory, the Astros took the field on Sunday looking to end their road trip with a win to break their four-game losing streak and trim a game off the A's growing division lead. Here is a quick rundown of the series finale:

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 2.

Record: 6-9, third in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jesus Luzardo (1-0, 2.60 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Cristian Javier (1-1, 4.02 ERA).

Oakland knocks Javier out early

The A's were able to get to Cristian Javier early on Sunday and knock him out of the game early. After a scoreless first frame, Javier allowed a solo home run in the second, but the real damage came in the third. In the bottom of the third, he issued two walks to set up a two-out three-run home run, followed by a solo shot as Oakland would get back-to-back homers to take a 5-0 lead.

Javier would get the third out, but would not return for the fourth inning. It would take him 63 pitches to get through his three innings, with all of his hits allowed being home runs, which paired with the walks resulted in the lopsided score. His final line: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3 HR.

Benches clear in the seventh

Houston tried to start a rally in the top of the next inning, getting a two-out double by Michael Brantley followed by a two-run homer by Yuli Gurriel to cut Oakland's lead to three runs at 5-2. Brandon Bailey would take over for Javier in the bottom of the fourth and worked around a lead-off walk for a scoreless inning.

Bailey stayed on the mound for the bottom of the fifth but ran into trouble by allowing a single and hitting a batter to put two on base, with one eventually coming in to score later in the inning against Andre Scrubb, who was the next reliever out. Scrubb would record a 1-2-3 sixth before Humberto Castellanos took over in the bottom of the seventh in the 6-2 game.

After one out, a pitch would get away from Castellanos and hit Ramon Laureano. After bickering occurred back and forth between Laureano and the Astros bench, Laureano would charge the dugout and prompt a full benches-clearing brawl. Once things settled down, Castellanos would finish the inning but not before the A's pushed the lead back to five runs at 7-2.

Oakland completes the sweep, Houston's losing streak extends to five 

Carlos Sanabria made his second appearance of 2020 by pitching in the bottom of the eighth. He would allow a leadoff double and two-out walk but was able to strand both runners in a scoreless inning. Houston would come up empty in the top of the ninth, giving Oakland the series sweep, extending the Astros' losing streak to five games, and pushing them down to third in the division standings.

Up Next: The Astros will travel back to Houston to start an eight-game homestand on Monday at 8:10 PM against the Giants, who sit at 7-10 on the year. Houston will send out Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 9.22 ERA) in the opener of the three-game set, looking to turn the page on the extremely disappointing start in Arizona, while San Francisco is expected to send out Logan Webb (1-0, 2.13 ERA).

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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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