Houston's magic number is down to one

Astros get walk-off win over Rays to end four-game skid and put clinch in sight

The Astros and Rays battled a close one on Tuesday, but Houston came out ahead. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With losses in their last four games, the Astros returned home and welcomed in the AL-best Rays on Tuesday to try and turn the page on the poor end to their recent road trip. Despite going down late in the game, they would rally in the ninth to get the win in a potential ALCS preview.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3

Astros' Record: 92-65, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Phil Maton (5-0)

Losing Pitcher: Josh Fleming (10-7)

Rays pounce on Urquidy in the first

Jose Urquidy did not have the first inning he wanted, allowing a single to start the game and a two-run homer to give Tampa Bay an immediate 2-0 advantage. He did rebound decently from that, though, retiring three of the following four batters to end that inning, and went on to get through the fifth without allowing any more damage. That's where his night would end, as after getting behind several batters along the way had already reached 91 pitches. His final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 91 P.

Bregman homers to get Houston on the board

First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia, who posted an impressive inning by sitting down Tampa Bay 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. The Rays also went to their bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, which was the change the Astros needed to get their first hit of the night, a solo homer by Alex Bregman to make it 2-1.

Blake Taylor took over in the top of the seventh, keeping it a one-run game by erasing a walk with a double play to end the frame. With the score still a one-run lead for Tampa Bay in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley came in and faced three batters, striking out two and allowing a walk before Phil Maton would wrap up the frame.

Astros walk it off

Another Houston homer came in the bottom of the eighth, as Jose Altuve would tie the game with a one-out solo shot to make it 2-2. Tampa Bay responded in the top of the ninth, though, as Maton remained in the game and was met by a one-out solo homer by Randy Arozarena to put the Rays back ahead 3-2.

The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the ninth, with Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa legging out infield balls to reach base. Kyle Tucker moved the runners to second and third on a groundout, then the Rays intentionally walked Aledmys Diaz and changed their reliever try and get the eight and nine spots of Houston's order out to end the game.

Chas McCormick spoiled those plans, working a walk after a ten-pitch at-bat to tie the game up 3-3. Jason Castro came in to pinch-hit for Martin Maldonado next, and he delivered the walk-off with a walk to end the game, ending Houston's four-game skid, and reduce their magic number to one.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start from Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. The expected pitching matchup is Drew Rasmussen (3-0, 2.67 ERA) for Tampa Bay and Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.23 ERA) for Houston.

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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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