Houston is now 6-6

Bielak with an impressive start, Astros rally late but come up short as Diamondbacks take series

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a rough, disheartening loss the night before to even the series at one game apiece, the Astros tried to shake it off and regroup for a win on Thursday to get the series win against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Here is a quick recap of the finale:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 5, Astros 4.

Record: 6-6, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Junior Guerra (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ryan Pressly (0-1, 40.50 ERA).

Bielak tosses an impressive start as Houston puts him in winning position

After both teams finished the first three innings scoreless, the Astros were able to get a little bit of good luck on their side, unlike the night prior. Jose Altuve started the inning with a much-needed single, stole second, then moved to third on a groundout for the second out. That set up Yuli Gurriel, who hit a ball down the third-base line that would strike the bag and bounce away from Arizona, allowing Altuve to score and put Houston up 1-0.

Though he likely would have preferred more run support, Brandon Bielak made do with that one run in his first career MLB start. He was able to complete five innings of work, holding Arizona scoreless over that span despite allowing a runner in each inning. He left in line for the win, with a final line of 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.

Altuve extends the lead, then Diamondbacks go ahead

Jose Altuve helped double the lead in the top of the sixth, connecting for a one-out solo home run to make it 2-0. With Bielak's night over at five innings, Cy Sneed took over in the bottom of the sixth and allowed back-to-back one-out doubles to cut Houston's lead in half. He allowed a single to put runners on the corners before Dusty Baker would move on to another reliever to try and preserve the lead. Blake Taylor would enter but allowed the tying RBI-single to take Bielak out of winning position. Taylor would go on to allow a go-ahead run before getting out of the jam.

In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor was still on the mound but would only get two outs before another call to the pen. Andre Scrubb would enter and get the final out of the inning. In the top of the eighth, Jose Altuve would improve to 3-for-4 on the night with a two-out double, setting up Alex Bregman for a go-ahead two-run home run to make it 4-3, Houston.

Ryan Pressly allows the walk-off

Scrubb went back to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was able to record a 1-2-3 inning to move the game to the ninth. After a scoreless top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly would attempt to get the save in the bottom of the inning. Instead, he would allow the walk-off, loading the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before a two-RBI single to give Arizona the win and the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Oakland to kick off a three-game weekend series with the A's on Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The A's will send Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93 ERA) to the mound while Houston will turn to Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) to help cut down Oakland's division lead.

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Protecting Deshaun Watson is critical. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The last time Houston played Baltimore, things got ugly for Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense. The Ravens defense sacked Watson 6 times and Houston fell behind 34-0 before eventually losing 41-7 in the worst showing by the Texans all regular season.

Protection, Protection, Protection

"Clearly, we don't want to give up any sacks," offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. "That's one area where like we've talked about before, everyone's involved in that. So, we need to make sure that we're doing a better job of really understanding how important every single play is and going out there and executing to the best of our ability at every single play, every single snap. That's one thing we're stressing to our guys. We're excited to see them out there on Sunday and being able to hopefully put that into action."

Last week against the Chiefs, the Texans offensive line struggled to give Watson time to make plays downfield. Watson was sacked 4 times and it felt as if he was under duress the entire game. It will not get any easier on Sunday as the Ravens defense is one of the leagues best. Led by pass rushers Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, and Matthew Judon, the Baltimore defense blitzed the second most amount of times out of any NFL team in their season opening 38-6 win over Cleveland.

"(They have) great players, Calais Campbell's been in the league for a long time," left tackle Laremy Tunsil said. "He's a crafty vet. This is his thirteenth year I believe, and he's a Pro Bowl guy, so we've got to be on our A game. The same with Judon, he's been in the league for a while so he was just at the Pro Bowl last year. Two good players. The whole defense is actually a great defense, a lot of great players… Like I said, we've got to execute our game plan and see the results at the end of the game. That's all we can do."

Success on third down

Pass protection is a major emphasis by the coaching staff this week and if the protection is improved it should allow the Texans to have longer sustained drives and keep Lamar Jackson and the Ravens elite offense on the sidelines. In last year's game, the Texans were only 2-10 on 3rd downs, a stat that must improve for Houston to have a chance at pulling off the upset at home.

"Last year's game is last year's game. This is a new year, so we're not really focused on what happened in that," Watson said. "It got away. They did their job and did what they had to do at home. This year and the talent they got is very, very top-notch. One of the best defenses we're going to see throughout the year. They do a good job of creating different pressures up front, doing a different variety of blitzes, keeping you on your toes and p's and q's. We've just got to make sure that we're locked in and focus on our tasks, our game plan and take it one play at a time."

Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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