The roof was closed over Minute Maid Park on Friday afternoon for Game One of the ALDS, and the Astros, led by Justin Verlander, brought their A-game for a crowd of 43,360.
The fans were raucous for a 1:05 start to the American League Division Series, and the Astros didn’t disappoint. Neither team necessarily came out swinging, but when Justin Verlander is on the mound, you know you’re always in the game.
The first runs came in the bottom of the 5th inning. Jose Altuve got a fastball high in the zone, and being one of the best fastball hitters in the game of baseball, took it down the line for a two-run shot into the Landry’s Crawford Boxes. The Astros were up 2-0 and never relinquished the lead.
The fun didn’t stop there, as Yuli Gurriel popped up a ball behind first base which was misplayed by the Rays’ Brandon Lowe and fell into the outfield, allowing two more runs to score. It was 4-0, and the Astros never looked back.
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Flash forward to the bottom of the 7th and the Astros were threatening again when Yordan Alvarez stepped up to the plate and drilled an RBI double to right-center to make it 5-0. Hopefully this is a good sign for Alvarez, who has been mired in a sort of mini-slump as of late. The team will need his powerful bat moving forward if they end up facing homer-happy teams like the Yankees or the Twins.
One batter later it was who else but Gurriel once again, drilling a ball down the line in right. It dropped in front of a sliding Austin Meadows and bounced into the stands for an RBI and a ground-rule double, making the score 6-0.
Pitching Staff Does the Job
On the mound for the Astros was Verlander, who, after a tremendous Cy Young Award worthy season, continued his dominance to start the playoffs. He only allowed one hit through seven scoreless innings, allowing three walks and striking out eight.
Relieving Verlander in the 8th inning was Ryan Pressly, who frankly was not sharp. Only pitching two-thirds of an inning, Pressly allowed four hits and two runs. Will Harris came on to face one batter and bail out Pressly to keep the score 6-2. Roberto Osuna came on in the 9th inning, struck out two and closed out Game One for a solid win and a 1-0 lead in the ALDS.
The Astros are now 10 wins away from hanging another banner over the concourse in left field. Gerrit Cole takes the mound tomorrow night for the home team. It’s a later game, starting at 8:07 p.m. The Rays send Blake Snell to the mound in what might be a shorter start than usual, as he’s pitched only six innings since July 21 due to an injury.
Get out to the ballpark or gather around your favorite watering hole and cheer on the Astros as they look to go up 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS.