If the ballpark were an office and a game the main presentation, the Astros in Game 1 of the ALDS were a smashing success.
For the first time since 2015, the Astros were hosting a playoff game. Their opponent was Chris Sale and the Red Sox. Justin Verlander was making his first postseason start as an Astros pitcher. Two baseball titans were about to clash.
The question commonly asked earlier today if this baseball game would be a low-scoring affair. And that was fair to ask. Two pitchers like Sale – 2.90 ERA in 214.1 innings – and Verlander – 3.36 ERA in 206 innings – aren’t viewed as aces without reason.
However, the Astros lineup had different plans in this game.
Alex Bregman, who was mentioned frequently in the Sale trade rumors last winter, set the tone with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Then his AL MVP-hopeful, Jose Altuve, would follow up with a solo home run of his own to give the Astros an early 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back home runs with only one out in the first inning is a fine way to start a game. Well, if you are the Astros.
Unfortunately, the early lead would not last long as the Red Sox would tie the game two-runs apiece by the middle of the fourth inning.
Not to be outdone, the Astros offense once again flexed its collective muscle.
Marwin Gonzalez, the Astros’ RBI leader who was hitting eighth in the lineup, decided to join the action with a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning. Thanks to his contribution, the Astros lead would jump back to two runs.
Yes, Mr. Passan, I agree with your statement. Gonzalez is very much underappreciated.
There were also key hits by Evan Gattis, Josh Reddick, Yuli Gurriel and Brian McCann. Heck, Reddick, a left-handed hitter, finished the day with two hits and a walk off of Sale. Sale, by the way, is a left-handed pitcher. It is was impressive to watch Reddick perform like that against a left-handed pitcher, which is a left-handed hitter’s kryptonite.
Of course, Reddick has improved dramatically against left-handed pitching this season. For example, his wRC+ last season with the Athletics and Dodgers versus left-handed pitchers? 2. Yup, a 2 wRC+.
An 109 wRC+.
Justin Verlander would hold the Red Sox for in check for two more innings. In fact, he was in line for the win if the bullpen could hold up its end of the bargain.
The Astros relief corps would actually hold the Red Sox to just two hits the rest of the way. Thank you, Chris Devenski. And Will Harris. Oh, Francisco Liriano, too. But don’t forget about Joe Musgrove.
That’s it, right?