ALDS GAME 1

Astros ride home run parade to 7-2 win, lead series with Indians 1-0

Alex Bregman (right) got the Astros started with a solo home run and also later drove in a run on a single. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Astros overpowered the Indians on Friday afternoon, winning 7-2 to kick off the ALDS. The Astros picked right up where they left off in the postseason of 2017, utilizing multiple home runs and solid pitching to get a Game 1 win at home to go up 1-0 in the ALDS.

Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Martin Maldonado hit solo homers to go with two RBIs from Josh Reddick, backing up a strong start from Justin Verlander and efficient work from the bullpen. Verlander went 5.1 innings to go with 2 earned runs and seven strikeouts in the win.

Justin Verlander started the postseason off by getting Francisco Lindor to pop out to shallow center field for the first out. Verlander then worked around a two-out walk, getting a groundout to end the inning. Corey Kluber also issued a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning, to Alex Bregman, but was able to strand him to end the inning.

In the top of the second, Verlander kept the game scoreless with a quick 1-2-3 inning, getting a strikeout, groundout, and fly out on 10 pitches. Marwin Gonzalez led the bottom of the inning off by taking first base after an inside pitch grazed his jersey, then moved to second after Kluber did the same against Tyler White with one out. They'd both get stranded, though, after a double play grounded into by Josh Reddick.

Yan Gomes gave Verlander a battle to start the third, a ten-pitch battle that ended in a strikeout, followed by two more as Verlander would strike out the side. Kluber kept the game gridlocked at 0-0 after the bottom of the inning, getting three quick outs on just 8 pitches.

After the Indians were retired in order again by Verlander in the top of the inning, it was Bregman who notched the first hit and run of the game, a solo home run to the Crawford Boxes in left, making it a 1-0 Astros lead to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Yuli Gurriel was next and worked a walk, advanced to second on a single by White, then scored on a two-out RBI single by Josh Reddick to extend the lead to 2-0 before Kluber could end the inning.

Verlander kept his rhythm going strong, working well with the lead in the top of the fifth with two strikeouts and a fly out to keep Cleveland hitless. Like Bregman the inning before, George Springer took Kluber deep to lead off the bottom of the fifth to make it 3-0, and with the blood in the water Jose Altuve followed with one of his own to make it back-to-back homers and put Houston ahead 4-0. Despite getting a couple of outs from the next two batters, Marwin Gonzalez's two-out single would be the end of the line for Kluber, finishing with four runs in his four and two-thirds innings of work. Adam Cimber would be first out of the bullpen and would get the final out after Gonzalez got caught stealing second.

Verlander finally allowed the Indians to get their first hit of the game to lead off the sixth, then after a one-out single found himself in his first scoring threat of the game. After walking the next batter to load the bases, and at 102 pitches, A.J. Hinch would come out of the dugout and make the call to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly would put his first pitch in the dirt, a wild pitch that would score the runner from third and give Cleveland their first run, making it 4-1. Pressly would get a ground ball for the second out, seceding another run to put the Indians within two at 4-2 before getting a strikeout to end the extended half-inning. Cimber returned to the mound in the bottom half of the inning, getting two more outs before another call to the Indians bullpen to bring in Cody Allen who was able to get the third.

In the top of the seventh, Pressly stayed in the game and threw a strong inning to retire the Indians in order. With Allen still on the mound in the bottom of the inning, Martin Maldonado gave Houston more padding to their lead with the Astros' fourth solo home run of the day to make it 5-2. A single by Springer in the next at-bat ended Allen's appearance and brought in Trevor Bauer from the bullpen. Springer moved to second on a groundout by Altuve, then scored on an RBI-single by Bregman, though Bregman would get caught between bases for the second out. Gurriel made it back-to-back hits with a two-out double and was left stranded, but the Astros still had their lead back to four runs in the 6-2 game.

Lance McCullers Jr. was next out of the pen for Houston and was able to get three quick outs in the top of the eighth to put them three outs away from the win. Tyler White hit a one-out double into the left-field corner off of Dan Otero in the bottom of the inning, then was pinch-run for by Myles Straw whose speed came in handy to score on a single up the middle by Reddick to make the lead 7-2 before a double play sent the game to the final inning.

Roberto Osuna took over in the top of the ninth and worked around a leadoff single by getting the next three batters out to end the game and start the playoffs off with a win. 

Game 2: The ALDS remains in Houston for Game 2 tomorrow afternoon at 3:37 PM Central, and can be seen on TBS. We'll get another high-profile pitching matchup with Gerrit Cole going for the Astros opposite of Carlos Carrasco for the Indians in a battle of strikeout artists. The Astros will try to utilize the home-field advantage to get out to a 2-0 lead in the series so that they only have to win one of the next three and keep the Indians from making it a best-of-3 series.

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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