The ALDS is finally here, and today’s game between the Rays and the Astros got the ball rolling on the best-of-five series.
Ageless ace Justin Verlander took the mound for the Astros, with Tyler Glasnow taking the mound for the Rays, who is finally built back up to throw at least five innings.
Austin Meadows got the ball rolling with a leadoff walk against Verlander, but Tommy Pham grounded into a double play before Ji-Man Choi struck out on a questionable called strike to end the top of the first.
Glasnow worked the bottom of the first pumping out 100 mph pitches, getting all three outs on flyouts. Glasnow found himself in some trouble in the bottom of the second, allowing back-to-back singles with two outs, but Robinson Chirinos hit a line drive right to Tommy Pham to end the inning.
Verlander was on his game his first time through the order, allowing only one walk while not allowing any hits. The Rays offense hasn’t looked bad, putting balls in play while striking out twice, but none of those balls in play found a hole in the Houston defense, keeping the offense hitless through three.
Things got dicey in the bottom of the third after Glasnow walked George Springer with one out. Springer stole second base then advanced to third when Michael Brantley hit a two-out infield single. Glasnow walked Alex Bregman to load the bases for Yordan Alvarez, but with a 1-2 count, Glasnow threw a perfect 99 mph fastball on the edge of the zone to end the inning with a backwards K.
Glasnow looked calm, cool and collected in the bottom of the fourth, not allowing any baserunners while striking out Carlos Correa and Robinson Chirinos to end the inning with 12 pitches thrown.
Brandon Lowe ended Verlander’s no-hit bid to leadoff the top of the fifth with a single to right field, but was stranded at first when the next three outs were recorded.
In the bottom of the fifth, Glasnow struggled with fastball command, walking Josh Reddick on four straight pitches. Glasnow struck out George Springer looking on three pitches, but Jose Altuve took a high fastball deep into the left field seats, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead. That home run ended Glasnow’s afternoon, bringing Brendan McKay in to relieve the starter.
McKay allowed a first pitch single to the lefty he was brought in to face, Michael Brantley, and Alex Bregman followed that up with a double off of the left field wall, putting two runners in scoring position with one out for Yordan Alvarez. McKay struck out Alvarez with three straight fastballs, and that marked the end of McKay’s appearance, with Kevin Cash bringing in Chaz Roe to face Yuli Gurriel.
Roe got the inning-ending flyball he was looking for, but it landed in-between Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi, with Meadows backing off of the ball that he had the best chance of catching, assuming Lowe would catch it. Lowe did not catch it, and it cost the Rays two runs, 4-0 Astros.
Meadows drew a one-out walk in the top of the sixth, but Tommy Pham grounded into his second double play of the day, ending the inning. Roe stayed in to pitch the bottom of the sixth and worked a scoreless inning. The offense was quiet in the top of the seventh when Verlander struck out the side, and Oliver Drake was brought in to pitch the bottom half of the inning.
Drake quickly recorded two outs in the inning, but he walked Alex Bregman, who stole second base, and allowed a double to Alvarez to extend Houston’s lead to 5-0. Yuli Gurriel scored Alvarez with a double of his own, giving the Astros a 6-0 lead. Drake struck out Carlos Correa to end the inning.
Verlander’s day was done after 7 innings, bringing Ryan Pressly in to pitch the top of the eighth. Joey Wendle hit a one-out single, and pinch-hitter Eric Sogard hit a two-out single to put the Rays on the board. Austin Meadows drove Sogard home with a double to center, and Tommy Pham hit an infield single to put two on for Ji-Man Choi, but Choi grounded out when Will Harris was brought in to end the inning.
Colin Poche pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, sending this one to the top of the ninth and marking the last chance for the Rays to even this game up. Roberto Osuna shut down the Rays in order, closing it out for the Astros and putting the Rays down in the series 0-1.
The Rays had a chance in this one, but Houston capitalized on every mistake the Rays made. Blake Snell and the Rays will face Gerrit Cole and the Astros tomorrow night in game two with first pitch set for 9:07 pm on FS1.