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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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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