Tampa Bay leads the series 1-0

Astros drop ALCS Game 1 to Rays after wasted chances at the plate

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With four teams left in the MLB postseason, Sunday night began the best-of-seven ALCS between the Astros and Rays who would battle for the right to represent the American League in the 2020 World Series. It set up to be an intriguing pitching battle, with Houston's best arm, Framber Valdez, going against 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell.

Blake Snell, despite having his pitch count elevated early, would edge out Valdez by going five innings during which his team provided him a 2-1 lead, which they would hold on to through the end. The loss puts Houston down 1-0 in the ALCS with Game 2 tomorrow afternoon. Here is a rundown of Game 1:

Final Score: Rays 2, Astros 1.

Series: TB leads 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Blake Snell.

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez.

Teams trade early runs

As the visiting team in the first two games, the Astros at the plate first to start Game 1. Jose Altuve took advantage, grabbing the early momentum for Houston with a one-out solo home run to take a 1-0 lead. They continued to put pressure on Blake Snell, including loading the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth but would strand all three runners.

Framber Valdez looked like his usual, sharp self in the game's early goings, allowing just one hit and one walk through the first three innings. Tampa Bay would get on the board in the bottom of the fourth, though, with Randy Arozarena banging a hanging fastball to center-field on a solo homer to tie the game 1-1.

Valdez goes six, but leaves down a run

While Snell would finish the fifth at 105 pitches and go no further, Valdez was having an efficient start to his night despite the earlier homer. A leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth would bite him, though, as back-to-back groundouts would move the runner to third to set up a two-out RBI-single by Mike Zunino to give Tampa Bay their first lead at 2-1. Valdez would make it through the sixth before Dusty Baker would move to the bullpen in the one-run game. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8K, 1 HR, 95 P.

Tampa Bay takes Game 1

Blake Taylor was the first reliever for Houston, taking over for Valdez in the bottom of the seventh. He would only get one out, a strikeout between a leadoff double and hit-by-pitch to put two runners on with one out, prompting another pitching change to bring in Enoli Paredes. Paredes would strand the runners, keeping it a one-run game heading to the eighth.

Houston would load the bases in the top of the eighth after a hit-by-pitch for Michael Brantley, walk by Carlos Correa, and a single by Kyle Tucker. That brought Yuli Gurriel to the plate, who would ground the first pitch he saw into a double play as the Astros would once again leave runs on the bases. Brooks Raley pitched the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff infield-single to get through the frame scoreless. Houston would come up empty in the top of the ninth, falling 2-1 in Game 1 to put the Rays a leg up heading into Monday's Game 2.

Up Next: ALCS Game 2 between the Astros and Rays will be Monday with a 3:07 PM Central start time to accommodate NLCS Game 1 on Monday evening. Lance McCullers Jr. will take the mound for Houston, who will stay as the visiting team, going opposite of former-Astro Charlie Morton for the Tampa Bay, who remains the home team.

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