Houston will have home-field advantage in the ALDS

Astros lock up second seed in AL with win over Oakland

Houston's offense put up double-digits on Saturday to lock up home-field advantage for the ALDS. Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

With a loss on Friday in the series opener to postpone it another day, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against Oakland hoping to tie one more loose end on the regular season: clinching the number two seed in the American League. With a great night at the plate by their bats, they'd get the victory to ensure that the White Sox would have to travel to Houston for ALDS Game 1.

Final Score: Astros 10, A's 4

Astros' Record: 94-67, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Phil Maton (6-0)

Losing Pitcher: Paul Blackburn (1-4)

Oakland strikes first, Houston responds in a big way

Jake Odorizzi looked as though he might be in for a rough night after his top of the first inning turned awry. The A's started things off with a single; then, after a rough play by Yordan Alvarez in left field, a potential became an RBI triple to start Oakland's night ahead 1-0 after two batters. They went on to double the lead two batters later, getting an RBI double before Odorizzi could get through the frame.

Luckily for him, Houston's offense started just as hot, responding in the bottom of the first with a single and a walk to set up Yordan Alvarez's 33rd home run of the season, a go-ahead shot to make it 3-2. Jason Castro made it back-to-back games with a homer in the next inning, sneaking a solo blast over the Crawford Boxes wall to give Houston the two-run advantage. They didn't stop there, loading the bases with three-straight singles before an RBI groundout by Alex Bregman pushed the lead to 5-2.

Houston goes to the bullpen in the fifth

In command of the lead for the 2021 AL batting title, Yuli Gurriel drilled a ball to left-center to lead off the bottom of the third, and though initially ruled a double, would go to review and end up being a solo homer to make it a four-run game. The score remained 6-2 as Odorizzi erased a walk for a scoreless fourth, but a leadoff single in the top of the fifth would score and give him his third earned run of the game before he would end his night two outs into the frame. His final line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 69 P.

Phil Maton was Houston's first reliever out, taking over for Odorizzi to try and get the third out of the fifth. After an error, shift-beating single, and a walk, he loaded the bases but would escape the jam by getting a groundout, using 19 pitches to get one out, but keeping the score 6-3. Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the sixth, and after two walks, he nearly gave up a game-tying three-run homer to Tony Kemp, but it would get snagged at the wall by Kyle Tucker to end the inning and strand both runners.

Astros clinch the second seed

The Astros added more insurance in the bottom of the sixth, putting two on base to set up a two-RBI triple by Michael Brantley to extend the lead to five runs. Brooks Raley took over out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh, and he erased a one-out single to get a scoreless inning. The runs kept coming across for Houston in the bottom of the inning, with a leadoff single by Gurriel turning into a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker to give them double-digits.

Kendall Graveman was next out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth, and after putting runners on the corners with no outs, he would allow a two-out RBI single to make it 10-4 before finishing the inning. With his next opportunity likely in ALDS Game 1, the Astros brought in closer Ryan Pressly in the top of the ninth to close out the game. He'd get a scoreless inning to finish off the win, which allows the Astros to stay in Houston after Sunday's regular-season finale to prepare for the ALDS.

Up Next: Game number 162, the final regular-season matchup of the year, will have a start time of 2:10 PM Central on Sunday, around the same time as all other MLB games on the final day of the season. Cole Irvin (10-15, 4.18 ERA) will make his final start of 2021 for Oakland, while Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.56 ERA) will get a final tune-up before taking on his role on the Astros' postseason pitching staff.

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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