ASTROS WIN BIG!

Here's an over-the-top prediction after Astros' Game 1 drubbing of White Sox

Game 1 was just the start! Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

John McEnroe was asked, "What's your expert analysis of this match, who's going to win, Roger Federer or the lucky loser qualifier?"

McEnroe answered, "I could go into a hundred factors, forehand, backhand, etc. But Federer is going to win for one reason … he's better than the other guy."

It's the same deal with the Astros v. White Sox in the American League Divisional Series. I could go all Geoff Blum on you, comparing wRAA (weighted runs above average), BAPIP (batting average on balls in play), wRC+ (weighted runs created plus), and IR-A% (inherited runs allowed percentage). But the Astros are going to win for one reason … they're better than the White Sox.

A whole lot better. The Astros' 6-1 drubbing of the White Sox Thursday was just the start. The Astros will wash, rinse and repeat Game 2 on Friday with Framber Valdez on the mound. Then on to Chicago to finish off the White Sox mercifully.

Let's go around the horn. The Astros are better at first, I'll take Yuli Gurriel over Jose Abreu. The Astros clearly are better at second with Jose Altuve, short with Carlos Correa and third with Alex Bregman. The Astros are better in left field with Michael Brantley and right field with Kyle Tucker. It's not close at designated hitter with Yordan Alvarez. I move the couch back five feet in my living room when Alvarez bats. Of the eight position players plus DH, the Astros have the edge seven times.

The starting rotations are a push, and I'll give the White Sox the nod with their bullpen. It won't be enough for the White Sox. Astros manager Dusty Baker is living in the moment, on top of things. He's geared-up like he's coming in as a defensive replacement in the ninth. White Sox skipper Tony La Russa is so old school I half expect him to write Shoeless Joe Jackson on the lineup card. Over here, Tony!

I love the Astros cocky walk. They didn't shrink under the boos harking back to 2017's cheating scandal. The 2021 edition has a chip on their shoulders. They've got a lot to prove fair and square. Lance McCullers, an alumnus from 2017, struts like he's the only rooster in the henhouse. He dominated Game 1 like the true ace he's become.

You don't like us? Beat us! You're bringing trash cans to the ballpark? Bang that!

No wonder the Astros are solid betting favorites. It's simple, really. The Astros have a winning record at home, the White Sox have a losing record on the road, and the Astros have the home field advantage.

The Astros No. 7 batter Kyle Tucker is a stronger hitter than anybody in the White Sox lineup. (I know, he's stronger than anybody in the Astros lineup, too, but you get my point.) Since May 9, Tucker swatted.329 and led the league in extra base hits. Remember back in 2015 when Preston Tucker struggled in the Astros outfield? Fans kept hearing, "It's really about his little brother Kyle." Well, little brother is here. And he's mashing.

If this is Carlos Correa's swan song in an Astros uniform, and increasingly it appears that way, he's leaving Houston like a show business pro ... with the audience wanting more.

The Astros are a veteran team with playoff experience. Their only rookie starter, Jake Meyers, got hits his first two times at bat. He's up for this.

There will be a street festival, with food trucks and entertainment, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday before first pitch at 1:07 p.m. Only ticket-holders will be admitted. The game will be televised on FS1 and the MLB Network.

A limited number of Game 2 tickets are available on the Astros official website. Thousands of tickets, starting at $44 for nose bleeds, can be had on secondary market sites. Interesting note: Game 3 in Chicago on Sunday has tickets available online starting at $180. That's right, the White Sox are a hotter draw at home than the Astros are. That ain't right.

Games 4 and 5 will be played next Monday and Wednesday, if necessary. They won't be necessary.

Astros TV color analyst Geoff Blum will throw out Friday's ceremonial first pitch to play-by-play announcer Todd Kalas. We'll keep an eye on Blum's BQR-S (bequeathed runners scored) and IR-A% (inherited runs allowed percentage).

Just reach home plate, OK, buddy?

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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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