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

Jose Altuve Batting
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jose Altuve hits a two-run home run in ALDS Game 1

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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Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

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