Houston has won four straight

Kyle Tucker's walk-off homer for Astros completes sweep of Mariners

Photo by Rich Schultz / Getty Images

With the series victory already locked up, the Astros were going for the clean sweep on Sunday against the Mariners and looking for their fourth-straight win. A quick rundown of Sunday's series finale:

Final Score: Astros 3, Mariners 2.

Record: 11-10, third in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Ryan Pressly (1-1, 6.35 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Erik Swanson (0-2, 15.19 ERA).

Trading runs early

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, the Astros took advantage of another defensive miscue by Seattle in the bottom of the second to grab an early lead. Abraham Toro, a late addition to the lineup in the DH spot with Yordan Alvarez being a late scratch, was able to reach base on a two-out error. He would come around to score on back-to-back singles by Martin Maldonado and George Springer, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Seattle responded by manufacturing some runs of their own in the next inning, getting a runner on base by a hit-by-pitch to lead it off. They turned that into run with an RBI-single, then took a 2-1 lead with another later in the inning. The Astros would tie the game in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-single by Martin Maldonado.

McCullers Jr. with another impressive start as game stays tied late

Despite the two-run third inning, Lance McCullers Jr. was still putting together another strong start. That was the only inning he allowed a hit over the first five, then returned to start the sixth. He allowed a leadoff double to start the top of the sixth, but with his pitch count rising and after allowing a two-out walk, would have Dusty Baker come to make a move to the bullpen. Andre Scrubb would get the final out of the inning, closing out McCullers Jr.'s line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7K, 0 HR.

Scrubb returned for the top of the seventh, but after two outs would be removed in favor of Houston's next reliever, Enoli Paredes. He would get the final out of the sixth, and continued on in the seventh, getting one out and allowing a single before Houston would move to Blake Taylor, who finished the inning despite allowing a walk.

Astros walk it off

Houston would fail to go-ahead in the bottom of the eighth, keeping it a 2-2 stalemate heading to the ninth. With Ryan Pressly already warmed up, he would take the top of the inning and be able to keep Seattle off the board with a 1-2-3 inning. That set the Astros up for a walk-off, and Kyle Tucker would oblige with a solo home run to complete the sweep and extend Houston's winning streak to four games.

Up Next: The Astros will close out this homestand with two games against the Rockies, the first being Monday at 8:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Kyle Freeland (2-0, 2.45 ERA) on the mound for Colorado going against Brandon Bielak (2-0, 1.76 ERA) for Houston.

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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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