After dominating the Chicago White Sox 6-1 on Thursday, there is still a lot of series left for the Houston Astros. The battle of the Lances ended in favor of the Astros, as Minute Maid Park erupted in cheer after Lance McCullers Jr.’s departure.
All around, the Astros excelled from the bump to the box. Jose Altuve had a beautiful slide to avoid a tag at home in the second inning, while Martin Maldonado was keeping the base paths quiet, cutting down Luis Robert at second base in the second inning.
The Astros took down the White Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS with three good things and two bad things worth discussing.
Lance McCullers Jr. didn’t issue a walk.
During the regular season, Lance McCullers Jr. led all of the major leagues in walks with 76. In Game 1, the right-hander didn’t issue a single walk, as he tossed 6.2-shutout innings. McCullers allowed only four hits, while punching out four Sox on 104-total pitches (62 strikes).
McCullers told a fan on Twitter a few days ago that he needed to get his walks down, and guess what? He did. This was McCullers’ first start of the season where he didn’t walk anyone.
Jake Meyers raked against a righty.
The White Sox sent Lance Lynn to the mound in Game 1, as the Astros looked to counter with Jake Meyers in the lineup, playing centerfield. Based on splits, Chas McCormick looked to be the optimal starter, as he hit .262/.314/.427 against righties in the regular season. Meyers only hit .233/.320/.356.
On Thursday, Meyers slashed 2-for-4 with an RBI and a questionable strike-three call in his final at-bat. The right-hander found success against a right-handed pitcher, which he hasn’t done well this season.
Yordan Alvarez drove in runs.
Yordan Alvarez likely had the best day for the Astros in the box, after going 2-for-3 with an elevated home run and long double. The left-hander drove in two runs, while getting on base in three of his four plate appearances.
Yuli Gurriel striking out three times
Coming off a walk-off and a regular season batting title, you could expect Yuli Gurriel to find the outfield grass. But in Game 1, the right-hander went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Lynn attacked Gurriel with fastballs, which has been one of the best balls Gurriel has hit this season (.274 xBA).
Gurriel hit .315/.378/.427 against right-handers in the regular season, and with Lucas Giolito on the mound, the right-hander could find his rhythm against a variety of pitches.
Kendall Graveman struggling with base runners
Kendall Graveman threw a total of five pitches to record the first two outs in the eighth inning, but ended his outing with 25 pitches (16 strikes). The right-hander allowed a run on two hits and a walk without recording a strikeout.
Graveman’s outing likely has him out for Game 2 on Friday, and also led to the Astros using Ryan Pressly for the ninth inning. All pitches thrown matter, especially in a short series, and with Pressly pushing past 20 pitches in his outing, it will be interesting who the Astros go to first for high-leverage on Friday.