Houston leads the series 1-0

Astros get a late rally to take ALWC Game 1 from Twins

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With a fresh slate in front of them, the Astros entered Target Field on Tuesday needing thirteen wins to get their second World Series win in franchise history. First, they needed to take two of three in the ALWC (American League Wild Card) round against the Twins. As with most playoff series openers, it shaped up to be a fierce pitching matchup. Here is a rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 4, Twins 1.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez.

Losing Pitcher: Sergio Romo.

Greinke allows a run then gets the early hook

After stranding Michael Brantley on second base after a double in the top of the inning, the Twins put early pressure on Zack Greinke in the bottom of the first. They took advantage of Greinke struggling to find the zone, getting a one-out single, then back-to-back walks to load the bases. With some stellar defense behind him, though, he would escape unscathed.

After loading the bases in the first, Greinke retired the next seven in a row, not allowing a baserunner until two outs into the third when he would walk Max Kepler. That proved costly, as Nelson Cruz would drive him in on a long RBI-double, putting the Twins ahead 1-0. He would get the next batter out, then tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but would get the early hook with his pitch count rising and the top of Minnesota's order coming back around in the fifth. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR, 79 P.

Valdez takes over then the Astros tie it up

One reason they were quick to take Greinke out early is that they were willing to use Framber Valdez, who took over in the bottom of the fifth. He would struggle against his first two batters, walking both before sitting down the next three to keep it a one-run game heading to the sixth.

The Twins also dipped into their bullpen starting in the top of the sixth, with another scoreless inning by Houston's bats. The Astros would tie the game and get on the board in the top of the seventh, getting back-to-back two-out singles by Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado to set up an RBI-single by George Springer, before Maldonado would run into the third out trying to advance to third.

Astros blow it open in the ninth and take Game 1

The game remained tied 1-1 into the ninth with Minnesota going inning-by-inning with relievers while Valdez was dealing for Houston. In the top of the ninth, the Astros started the inning with back-to-back singles to threaten to go ahead. After outs in the air by the next two batters, an error by the Twins loaded the bases instead of recording the third out, keeping Houston alive and bringing Jose Altuve to the plate.

Altuve would get the go-ahead RBI, working a walk to put the Astros in front 2-1 for their first lead of the game. That brought Michael Brantley to the plate, still with the bases loaded, and would drive in two of them with a two-RBI single to push the lead to 4-1.

Houston would ride the hot hand into the bottom of the ninth, sticking with Framber Valdez to bring it home. He would maintain the lead and get the win, erasing two one-out singles to finish the Houston victory, putting them a win away from advancing to the ALDS.

Up Next: Game two of this best-of-three will start an hour earlier on Wednesday, with a 12:08 PM Central start. With Framber Valdez being used in Game 1, the Astros are expected to start Jose Urquidy in Game 2, while the Twins will send Jose Berrios to the mound.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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