Astros pull away late to take ALDS Game 1

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros take 1-0 ALDS lead with 6-2 win over Rays

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Although it started as a pitcher's duel Justin Verlander and the Astros would outlast the Rays and take Game 1 of the ALDS, 6-2. Jose Altuve had the hit of the day with his two-run home run to start the scoring, while Justin Verlander's dominant day on the mound earned him the win after seven shutout innings. Here is a quick recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Rays 2.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Justin Verlander.

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow.

Verlander and Glasnow duel in the early innings

Justin Verlander didn't have the first at-bat you would have predicted to start the ALDS. He issued a five-pitch walk to Austin Meadows but was able to induce a double-play then a strikeout to end the inning. That would be the start of an early pitcher's duel, with Verlander and Tyler Glasnow keeping their opponents scoreless in the early goings.

The Astros had their chances in the second and third innings, getting two on in the bottom of the second, then loading the bases in the third, but Houston would strand all five runners. Verlander kept rolling along, allowing just his first hit of the afternoon in the top of the fifth before retiring the next three batters, including back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

Astros break through in the fifth

Glasnow looked to be fading to start the bottom of the fifth, walking Josh Reddick on four pitches. He followed that with a three-pitch strikeout of George Springer, but Jose Altuve would put an end to Glasnow's day with a two-run home run to score the first runs of the day and give Houston a 2-0 lead.

Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman had back-to-back hits against Brendan McKay who was first out of Tampa Bay's bullpen, and they would come around to score later in the inning on a costly error by the Rays on a fly ball by Yuli Gurriel that went uncaught and doubled Houston's lead at 4-0.

Verlander finishes seven shutout innings as Astros tack on insurance

Verlander, meanwhile, was cruising along en route to another dominant playoff start on the mound. The hit he allowed in the top of the fifth would go down as his only of the day, paired with three walks, the only baserunners he allowed while notching eight strikeouts. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.

In the bottom of the seventh, Alex Bregman walked for his second time in the game, then stole second to get into scoring position with two outs. That set up Yordan Alvarez, who recorded his first postseason RBI with a double, followed by Yuli Gurriel, who dropped the ball into right field for another RBI-double, extending Houston's lead to 6-0.

Bullpen finishes things off to take a 1-0 ALDS lead

Ryan Pressly took over for Verlander to pitch the top of the eighth but would have a shaky inning, allowing the Rays to score two runs and giving up four hits to trim the lead to 6-2 while getting just two outs. Will Harris was brought in to clean things up and get the final out of the inning.

Roberto Osuna was next out of Houston's bullpen to try and close out the four-run win. He did so, getting a scoreless inning to finish the game and give Houston a 1-0 lead in the ALDS.

Up Next: ALDS Game 2 is on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for a late 8:07 PM at Minute Maid Park. The pitching matchup will be 2019 Cy Young hopeful Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA in the regular season) for the Astros going up against 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell (6-8, 4.29 ERA in the regular season) for the Rays. After Game 2, the series moves to Tropicana Field for Game 3 and, if needed, Game 4.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow recently addressed the allegations at the center of the Astros cheating scandal. Be sure to watch the video to find out why Luhnow was careful not to go into specifics about other MLB teams and their involvement in similar activities.

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