ALCS Game 1

Astros get great pitching, clip Yankees 2-1 to win series opener

Dallas Keuchel was terrific in Game 1 against the Yankees. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Astros received a historic start by Dallas Keuchel in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, shutting down Aaron Judge and the Yankees and getting a 1-0 advantage in the ALCS.

Keuchel fashioned 10 strikeouts and gave up just four hits and was backed by clutch hitting by Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel along with another fantastic game by Jose Altuve as the Astros took Game 1 of the ALCS 2-1. He got late help from Ken Giles, who pitched 1 2/3rds innings and gave up the only run on a two-out homer in the ninth to Greg Bird. He recovered to close out the game.

Of course it was Jose Altuve who put the Astros in place to get the first run on the board and take the lead. First, in the top of the inning, he made a spectacular diving stop of a groundball and threw it to first in time for an out. Then, he took to the bases in the bottom half of the inning by getting the first hit of the night for the Astros, stealing second, then scoring on a RBI single from Carlos Correa to make it 1-0. Yuli Gurriel added another run with a RBI single of his own to make it 2-0 before Masahiro Tanaka was able to get out of the inning.

In the top of the fifth, the Yankees were able to get runners on first and second with no outs after a single and rare error by Altuve.  Keuchel got out of the jam, though, thanks in large part to Marwin Gonzalez getting Bird out at home plate on an amazing throw for the final out after a single by Judge. Tanaka was able to bounce back from the rough fourth for a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

Keuchel stayed hot in the top of the sixth, getting two more strikeouts to bring his total to nine, and had some strong defense behind him to get the final out on a ground ball as Correa had to make a quick throw to first that was offline but saved by Gurriel getting the tag for the third out. Altuve got yet another hit in the bottom of the inning, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded leaving the Astros in the lead.

Keuchel returned for the top of the seventh nearing the 100 pitch mark. He made easy work of it, getting through the half inning on just twelve pitches, including getting his tenth strikeout of the night, making him the third Astro to record ten or more in a postseason game. The Yankees went to their bullpen in the bottom half, bringing in Chad Green who gave up one hit but no runs. 

With Keuchel's dominant night done, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski for the top of the eighth. Devenski got a quick pop out before walking Brett Gardner, prompting A.J. Hinch to go back to the bullpen, bringing in Giles for a five-out appearance. Despite a walk, Giles was able to keep the Yankees off the board and get the Astros within three outs of the Game 1 win, ending the top of the inning with a big strikeout of Didi Gregorius. Green returned to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Yankees and despite Altuve getting yet another hit, was able to hold the Astros to their 2-0 lead.

In the ninth, Giles started with sixteen pitches already thrown but was able to get through the inning and save the game despite losing the shutout on a solo home run to Bird. Giles bounced back and got a strikeout to end the game and lock up the 2-1 win. 

The first three innings featured a pitching duel, as Keuchel and Tanaka took turns dealing. Tanaka did not allow a hit.

The game started with a quiet first as both pitchers were able to get through their halves of the inning without trouble. Despite giving up a one-out walk to Aaron Judge, Keuchel was able to finish the inning with two strikeouts and a groundout. In the bottom of the inning, Tanaka issued a leadoff walk to George Springer but got out of the inning with a flyout and two groundouts. The Astros failed to score in the opening inning for the first time in the playoffs.

In the second, both pitchers stayed sharp and the he game remained scoreless thanks to  1-2-3 efforts from both pitchers. Keuchel continued to look strong with two strikeouts, while Tanaka had a groundout and two flyouts.

Gardner came up with the first hit of the night with a two-out single in the top of the third but was left stranded as Keuchel came back with a big strikeout of Judge. Tanaka kept the Astros off the bases with another perfect inning.

Game 2: First pitch for Game 2 of the ALCS is scheduled for 3:08 PM Central tomorrow from Minute Maid Park here in Houston. The Astros will send out Justin Verlander, who despite his weird relief appearance in Game 4 of the ALDS continues to be dominant for his new team. The Yankees will start Luis Severino who was pulled early in the wild card game but was very strong in the ALDS Game 4 win over the Indians. Severino finished the regular season third in the AL with a 2.98 ERA.

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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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