Astros vs. Red Sox score: Houston wins ALCS Game 1 behind Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve home runs
Houston takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series
Game 1 of the American League Championship Series played out as expected Friday night at Minute Maid Park. There were fireworks on offense, multiple lead changes, and sketchy starting pitching. With any luck the rest of the series will feature the same sort of exciting back and forth baseball. The Houston Astros rallied in the late innings to earn a 5-4 win (box score) over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1.
Houston has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were the heroes late, and the two starting pitchers combined to throw 5 1/3 innings. It was a battle of the bullpens and eventually Boston's broke.
According to MLB.com's Sarah Langs, this is the first time under manager Alex Cora that the Red Sox lost a postseason game after leading by multiple runs. They were 15-0 in such games prior to Friday.
Here are seven takeaways from Game 1. Below you can relive all of the action from Game 1 with highlights and running commentary from CBS Sports.
1. Hernández had another monster game
There is no such thing as the ALDS MVP award, but if there were, Enrique Hernández would have won it with ease. He went 9 for 20 with three doubles and two home runs in the four games with the Rays, and he picked it right back up in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Astros.
Hernández started his latest spectacular game with a leadoff single in the first inning. He then made an inning-ending diving catch in the second inning, taking a hit away from Michael Brantley and saving at least one run (likely two). To start the next inning, Hernández hit a 448-homer to tie the game 1-1.
Later in the game Hernández added a bloop double off the end of the bat (when you're hot, you're hot), and he had two chances to complete only the second cycle in postseason history. He struck out in the sixth, and rather than complete the cycle with a triple in the ninth, Hernandez hit another solo home run. That one cut Houston's lead to 5-4.
The 4 for 5 game in Hernández's second four-plus-hit game this postseason. He went 5 for 6 with three doubles and a home run in ALDS Game 2 against Tampa. Six games into the postseason, Hernández is 14 for 28 (.500) with four doubles and four home runs. He is the hottest hitter on the plate right now and I'm not sure it's particularly close either.
Hernández has 14 hits this postseason, a Red Sox record through the team's first six games in a single postseason. Also, Hernández has 13 hits in his last four games, the most by any player in any four-game span in the postseason. Randy Arozarena, Marquis Grissom, Billy Hatcher, and Hideki Matsui held the previous record with 11.
2. Valdez struggled badly
A forearm issue will sideline staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. in the ALCS, meaning Framber Valdez will serve as Houston's de facto No. 1 starter against the Red Sox. In Game 1, Valdez did anything but live up to the moniker. He retired only six of the 16 batters he faced, and was charged with three runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Valdez was able to limit the damage with double play balls in the first and second innings, and he did get another double play grounder in the third, but Altuve let the ball get through his legs, extending the inning. The Red Sox capitalized and pushed another two runs across to take a 3-1 lead, elevating Valdez's pitch count.
In two regular season starts, Valdez held the BoSox to two runs in 14 1/3 innings and posted his two highest strikeout totals of the season (eight and 10). That was way back in June though, before the Red Sox acquired Kyle Schwarber and before Hernández really got going.
Valdez threw a first pitch strike to only five of the 16 batters he faced in Game 1, and six of those 16 batters saw a three-ball count. He had trouble landing his curveball for strikes and had to work from behind all night. That's no way to succeed against Boston's lineup, and his night was appropriately short.
3. Houston wasted several early opportunities
Valdez was not good and Chris Sale wasn't much better. Boston's erstwhile ace labored through 2 2/3 innings, retiring only eight of the 15 batters he faced. All those baserunners led to just one run, however, and it came on a Yordan Alvarez sacrifice fly. The Astros couldn't come through with the big hit against Sale.
Houston had runners on second and third with one out in the first, but scored just one run on Alvarez's sac fly. They loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Altuve struck out and Hernández robbed Brantley. In the third, the Astros had runners at first and second with one out, but a strikeout and a ground out later, the inning was over.
Through three innings, the Astros were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base. Yes, Hernández robbed Brantley and that was tough luck, though the ball wasn't exactly well-struck. Similar batted balls (based on exit velocity and launch angle) go for a hit just 29 percent of the time. Houston wasted a lot of opportunities early.
4. Altuve redeemed himself
Game 1 was shaping up to be a very bad game for Altuve. He struck out feebly with the bases loaded and one out in the second, then let the potential inning-ending double play get through his legs in the third. Those were two massive, game-changing at-bats in which Altuve was a negative.
Altuve redeemed himself in the sixth inning though. He swatted a game-tying two-run home run against Red Sox righty Tanner Houck, who held righties to a .215/.284/.296 line during the regular season. Houck hung a first pitch slider and Altuve did not miss.
Altuve now has 20 career home runs in the postseason. Only Manny Ramirez (29) and Bernie Williams (22) have more. Altuve has hit those 20 homers in only 68 postseason games, which works out to a 48-homer pace (!) in a 162-game schedule. Incredible.
Later in Game 1, Altuve drove in what proved to be an important insurance run with a sacrifice fly. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and three runs driven in on the night, more than making up for error on the double play ball.
5. It's Correa's time
In Game 4 of the ALDS last week, Correa gave the Astros the lead for good with a third inning two-run double against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodón. When he got to second base Correa tapped his wrist and yelled, "It's my time!" The man owns a career .881 OPS in the postseason. October is definitely his time.
Correa proved that again in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday. He turned around a two-strike 91 mph changeup from Hansel Robles in the seventh inning, breaking the 3-3 tie and giving the Astros a 4-3 lead. Correa tapped his wrist before he even started his home run trot. It's his time.
The home run in Correa's 18th in 68 career postseason games -- that's a 43-homer pace in a 162-game schedule -- and his seventh homer in his last 17 postseason games. Also, he now has four career go-ahead homers in the seventh inning or later in the postseason, the most in baseball history. Correa had been tied with Bernie Williams and Troy Glaus.
6. Brantley extended his hitting streak
Very quietly, Brantley has put together one of the longest hitting streaks in postseason history. He dunked a single in front of a diving Hernández in the fifth inning, and has now hit safely in 16 consecutive postseason games dating back to Game 2 of last year's Wild Card Series against the Twins.
Here are the longest hitting streaks in postseason history:
1. Hank Bauer: 17 games (1956-85)
2. Derek Jeter: 17 games (1998-99)
3. Manny Ramirez: 17 games (2003-04)
4. Pat Borders: 16 games (1991-93)
5. Michael Brantley: 16 games (2020 to present)
Brantley is 24 for 69 (.348) with two doubles and three home runs during his 16-game postseason hitting streak. Not a ton of power, but .348 is .348. He'll try to extend the streak to a record-tying 17 games Saturday. Brantley is 2 for 10 in his career against Nathan Eovaldi, Boston's Game 2 starter.
7. The Astros have the edge
Historically, the team that wins Game 1 of a best-of-seven has gone on to win the series 64 percent of the time. That said, when these two teams met in the 2018 ALCS, the Astros won Game 1 before the Red Sox ripped off four straight wins. History is on Houston's side but nothing is guaranteed. Game 2 is Saturday evening at Minute Maid Park.
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