Astros vs. Mariners score: Yordan Alvarez hits three-run walk-off homer as Houston completes stunning comeback
The Mariners looked like they had Game 1 of the ALDS wrapped up... until Robbie Ray faced Yordan Alvarez
The Houston Astros stunned the Seattle Mariners, notching an 8-7 walk-off victory on Tuesday in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. The Astros entered the ninth down by two runs, but prevailed when Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run shot against Robbie Ray, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner who had just been summoned in relief for matchup purposes.
Here's the walk-off homer:
The Astros now lead the best-of-five series by a 1-0 margin, a crucial outcome given the struggles of ace Justin Verlander. The two sides will have Wednesday off before meeting again for Game 2 on Thursday afternoon in Houston.
Here are five things you need to know about the Astros' Game 1 win.
1. Ray gambit fails as part of M's bullpen meltdown
The Mariners appeared to have the Astros right where they wanted them. Entering the eighth inning, Seattle led by a 7-3 margin with six outs to go. Throughout the regular season, the Mariners had turned over countless leads to Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald and saw that unhittable duo seal victories. That didn't happen in Game 1.
Instead, Muñoz and Sewald were surprisingly pedestrian, and an attempt to play the matchups failed in a major way.
Muñoz allowed three hits in the eighth inning, including a home run to Alex Bregman that was his first surrendered since June 10. Sewald still had a 7-5 lead to protect in the ninth, but the Mariners had left-handed starter Robbie Ray warming just in case.
It didn't seem that Ray would be necessary. Sewald retired the first batter he faced, and recovered after he plunked the second by striking out the third. He was one out away from the save when things came undone. Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña singled to center, bringing up Yordan Alvarez and bringing out manager Scott Servais.
Servais viewed Ray as a better foe for Alvarez, who has been weaker against lefties (.936 OPS) than righties (.980) for his career, albeit barely. Ray, for his part, had struggled giving up the long ball this season, but not to lefties. In fact, he'd surrendered just four homers to lefties in 146 plate appearances this year, or one every 37 plate appearances. Those numbers proved meaningless, as two pitches later Alvarez cranked a 438-foot home run to right field off a sinker.
Just like that, the Mariners had blown what looked like a certain victory.
2. Verlander has a rare postseason misstep
Verlander's day came to a close after he surrendered six runs on 10 hits and a walk over the span of four innings. Seeing as how he entered with a career 3.40 postseason ERA, you would be right to guess that he hasn't had many October stinkers like this.
Indeed, Tuesday's outing marked just the second time in Verlander's career that he's allowed six runs or more in a postseason contest. The other occasion happened in the 2006 World Series, his first full season in the majors, when he allowed exactly six runs in five innings of work against the St. Louis Cardinals in a loss.
We'll see if Verlander will get a chance at redemption later in the series, or if he'll have to wait until next round.
3. Rodríguez, top of Mariners' lineup deliver in loss
Star rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez got the afternoon started right for the Mariners by working a leadoff walk against Verlander. He'd go first-to-third on a Ty France single before then crossing the plate for the game's first run on another single. That wouldn't be the last time he factored into the score, either.
Rodríguez came up next in the second inning. He hit a two-run double and, again, crossed the plate on a France single to put the Mariners up 4-0. Rodríguez completed the hat trick in the fourth: tripling and scoring once more on a France hit to give the Mariners a 5-2 lead.
Between Rodríguez's three runs scored and two runs batted in, it's fair to write that he was responsible for much of the Mariners' Game 1 offense. To think, he was a 21-year-old appearing in his just his third career playoff game.
France and Suárez, Seattle's No. 2 and 3 hitters, deserve credit as well. The threesome combined for seven hits, a walk, four runs scored, and five runs batted in. That's the kind of production every team desires from the top of their order in October. On most days, in most games, it would've been enough to earn the win.
4. What history says about Astros' chances
According to our own Dayn Perry's research, home teams who have won Game 1 in the divisional round entered this postseason having won 70.7 percent of the series. (Those numbers exclude the 2020 postseason, since those games were played at a neutral site.) That would seem to bode well for the Astros, who only have to win home games the rest of the way to advance for a shot at the AL pennant.
5. What comes next
The Mariners and Astros will have a day off on Wednesday before resuming their series with Game 2 on Thursday afternoon. Deadline acquisition Luis Castillo is expected to start for the Mariners while Framber Valdez gets the nod for Houston.
Here's the Alvarez walk-off shot
WALK-OFF HOME RUN
Yordan Alvarez wins it for the Astros. Unbelievable. Astros win it, 8-7. WOW
The Mariners have a stellar back-end of the bullpen, as mentioned earlier. All the studs are righties, though. Ray gives the Mariners a lefty-lefty matchup.
Hoooooo boy, here we go ...
Peña singles and the tying run is at first with the winning run at the plate in the form of possibly the second-scariest hitter in baseball, Yordan Alvarez.
And left-handed starting pitcher Robbie Ray is coming in to deal with the lefty-swinging Alvarez
down to one out left
Sewald with a huge strikeout of Jose Altuve and it'll be up to rookie Jeremy Peña
Altuve missed a first pitch hanger and eventually struck out. It's down to Jeremy Peña.
Tying run to the plate
And Jose Altuve is up. One out in the inning. Robbie Ray is warming up, presumably should it get to Yordan.
Mariners three outs away
Muñoz strikes out Mancini to end the threat. We're off to the ninth with the Mariners leading 7-5. Hold onto your hats!
Mancini strikes out to end the inning
Trey Mancini hit .152/.252/.304 in his final 42 regular season games this year. He just struck out to end the eighth inning while representing the tying run. Been a grind for him the last few weeks.
Gurriel with a two-out single
And the tying run comes to the plate for the Astros. Never, ever count them out.
Five outs to get and Muñoz has thrown 11 pitches.
Bregman two-run HR
And we've got a brand new ballgame. Astros cut the Mariners' lead to 7-5 here in the 8th.
Muñoz in for Mariners
He was part of the seven-player trade with the Padres that sent Austin Nola to San Diego. He's been utterly filthy this year, with his calling card being a wipeout slider
Former Rays RP Diego Castillo is in
Guessing the last two innings will be mostly Andrés Muñoz but could see some Erik Swanson and/or Paul Sewald mixed in.
Mariners bats are still hot
Eugenio Suarez homers and it's 7-3 Mariners. They scored 21 runs combined in their last three games of the regular season and then 14 in their two-game sweep of the Blue Jays. They appear to be ready to average seven runs per game the rest of the way. That's sustainable, right?
Astros threaten in the sixth
But they strand the runner. It's 6-3 Mariners through six and they have a stellar late-inning bullpen. Of course, the Astros' offense is awesome, too, so it won't be easy.
Julio joins elite company
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