Yankees overpower Houston on both sides of the ball

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros drop ALCS Game 1 with a disappointing performance

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


After being taken to a winner-take-all Game 5 with the Rays which they would win to advance, the Astros had a quick turnaround to start the ALCS with the Yankees in Game 1. New York had a chance to watch Houston's ALDS unfold after sweeping the Twins in three games.

In ALCS Game 1, it would be all Yankees as their potent offense would overpower Houston's pitching, and also overwhelm the Astros' batters with a terrific start from Masahiro Tanaka before their bullpen finished a 7-0 shutout win to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Yankees 7, Astros 0.

Series: Yankees lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka.

Losing Pitcher: Zack Greinke.

Tanaka outduels Greinke in a pitcher's duel

After three innings of overpowering pitching from both starters, the Astros and Yankees went into the middle innings scoreless. Zack Greinke had only yielded one hit over that span but would allow his second to start the top of the fourth, a leadoff single by DJ LeMaheiu. LeMaheiu moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a one-out RBI-double by Gleyber Torres to put New York up 1-0.

The Yankees would threaten again in the top of the fifth with back-to-back one-out singles, but Greinke would work out of it to keep it a one-run game. Masahiro Tanaka meanwhile was winning the pitcher's duel by allowing just one hit through the first four frames. The Astros put a runner on with a leadoff walk by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the fifth, but he would get doubled up by straying too far from first base on a flyout, erasing Houston's chances of a run that inning.

Gleyber Torres would strike again in the top of the sixth, getting a one-out solo home run off of Greinke to extend New York's lead to 2-0. Giancarlo Stanton was next to tack on to the lead for the Yankees, getting a two-out solo home run to make it 3-0. Though he would finish that inning still with a relatively manageable pitch count, AJ Hinch would not task Greinke with going any further. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K , 2 HR.

Torres keeps driving in runs

Ryan Pressly was the first reliever to take the mound for Houston, but after two quick outs would fall victim to New York's offense with three-straight singles to load the bases before Gleyber Torres would get his fourth RBI of the night with a two-run single to blow the game open at 5-0. Josh James would come in to get out three to finish the inning.

The Yankees would also make a move to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, bringing in Adam Ottavino to try and keep the top of Houston's lineup from getting the Astros on the board. Despite an error that would give the Astros their first big scoring chance of the game, a double play would end their chances.

Houston shutout in Game 1

James would stay on the mound for the top of the eighth to try and keep the score pat and did so with an impressive 1-2-3 inning. Zach Britton would come into the game for New York in the bottom of the eight and was able to erase a one-out walk by Houston to keep the shutout alive.

Houston would give Bryan Abreu a chance to pitch in the ALCS by taking over for James in the top of the ninth. He was met with a solo home run before later in the inning Gleyber Torres would get a fifth RBI on an RBI-groundout to make it 7-0. Abreu would continue to be hit around, resulting in a move to Hector Rondon to get the third out. Houston would come up empty for yet another inning in the bottom of the ninth, suffering a shutout loss at home to start the ALCS and put New York up 1-0 in the series.

Up Next: ALCS Game 2 from Minute Maid Park will be Sunday at 7:08 PM Central. The Astros will get Justin Verlander a start on regular rest, looking to get back on track after his disappointing outing in ALDS Game 4. The Yankees will counter with James Paxton, who went four and two-thirds innings while allowing three earned runs in his start against the Twins in ALDS Game 1, which the Yankees would win.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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