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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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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