Justin Verlander began his career 36th start in the postseason in such a classic way with an inning ending double play, and the 2023 ALCS was underway. The Silver Boot Series this season was won by the Astros and now the postseason redux is off and running. Houston definitely has the leg up on Texas when it comes to experience and pitching but in the playoffs anything can happen.
The first two games of the best of seven series start in Houston before traveling 3+ hours northwest on 45. Texas struck first in the top of the second with a single deflected off Jose Abreu’s that turned into a double, followed by a single into right-centerfield. Verlander walked the bases loaded but managed to get out of the jam with Semien popping out to shallow center.
The Astros threatened in the 3rd with 2 on and 2 out but Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the side. They threatened again with the bases loaded after 3 singles in a row by McCormick, Dubon, and Peña but Montgomery struck out Maldonado to end the threat.
After the Astros fell short on back to back innings the Rangers expanded their lead to 2-0 on a solo home run by Leody Taveras. Mauricio Dubon helped take the momentum back on the following at bat as he made a diving grab in center for the second out of the inning which Verlander followed up with a strikeout on 3 pitches to end the top half of the 5th inning.
Verlander ended his strong night leaving 2 runners on base in the 7th. He pitched 6.2 innings gave up 2 earned on 6 hits, 1 walk, and he struck out 5. Hector Neris came in to finish off the inning getting Semien to pop out to first. Montgomery exited in the 7th as well, going 6.1 shutout innings giving up 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6.
Both the Astros Verlander and Rangers Montgomery were brilliant in Game 1 of the ALCS
The Astros struggled once runners got on base and had 6 runners left on after 7 innings, going 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Although many Astros fans were anticipating an Altuve-Chapman faceoff, Bochy decided to save him for after Altuve, probably a saving Chapman some hours of counseling. Chapman started off Bregman with a ball, with Altuve lingering on first base. Bregman hit a deep fly ball at 103.2 MPH off the bat 365 feet but it was caught by the Rangers.
Altuve didn't retouch second and was doubled up off on a challenge by the Rangers leaving the Astros without a base-runner and without any momentum. Yordan had a soft ground out to first in a rare game for the Astros superstar, as he struck out 3 times and was 0-for-4. The Astros shot themselves in the foot and killed their own rally with their base running error.
Altuve being doubled up on a base running error in the bottom of the 8th sums up the Astros day at the plate
Bryan Abreu handled the Rangers in the top of the 9th inning, doing what he does best as the Astros set up man. The Astros went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th inning and continued their struggles at the plate all day. The biggest player of the game was brand new Ranger, left fielder Evan Carter who robbed Bregman on that hit to left field as well as Altuve leading off the game, among other plays.
Carter seemed to be everywhere and was able to track down balls that would be hits on a typical night. The Astros are a better team on the road and this game really exemplified that stat, as they seemed to lose the spark they at in Minnesota. On to Game 2 Astros fans, no need to panic.