In Game 1 of the ALDS on Monday, the Houston Astros prevailed over the Oakland Athletics at Dodger Stadium by a score of 10-5 (box score). As a result, the Astros have taken a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series that will determine who advances to the ALCS to face either the Yankees or Rays.
Power was the story in this one, as the A's and Astros combined for six home runs. As well, Houston pounded out 16 hits, which is the most the A's have allowed this season. Otherwise, a key Oakland error and the strong performance of the Houston bullpen played supporting roles in the outcome.
Game 2 will be back at Dodger Stadium in the Southern California postseason bubble on Tuesday, and the A's again will serve as the home team. First pitch is scheduled for 4:37 p.m. ET, and Framber Valdez is scheduled to start for the Astros opposite Sean Manaea for Oakland.
Now let's put a bow on Game 1 with some quick takeaways from Monday's action.
Correa stays hot
Houston shortstop Carlos Correa suffered through an uncharacteristically unproductive regular season, as he slashed just .264/.326/.383 in 58 games. Normally, you wouldn't see much wrong with a 92 OPS+ from a shortstop, but Correa's standards are higher than that. Since the 2020 postseason began he's found his level and then some. In the Wild Card Series sweep of the Twins, Correa went 3 for 6 with a home run and two walks. Then in Game 1 against Oakland, he did this:
In addition to keying the Houston win, Correa's pair of Game 1 jacks occasioned some playoff history:
George Springer also racked up four hits in this one.
Semien's error was key
In the top of the sixth, Oakland reliever J.B. Wendelken retired the first two batters, so with two outs and no one on the A's led 5-3. Then, however, A's shortstop Marcus Semien, ranging to his left, misplayed a routine grounder off the bat of a hustling Josh Reddick:
Following that error, the Astros went single, double, single, single and put four runs on the board before Alex Bregman lined out (to Semien) to end the frame. By that point, though, Houston had the lead for good. All four runs were unearned.
Marcus Semien Defensive Runs Saved— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) October 5, 2020
The Astros' bullpen dominated
While Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. got shoved around for five runs -- four earned -- in four innings, the Houston bullpen more than picked up the slack. Here's the combined Game 1 line for Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Cristian Javier, and Ryan Pressly:
5 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 5 SO, 1 BB
That's dominance. During the regular season, the Houston bullpen ranked just 15th in MLB in relief ERA, but they more than passed muster in Game 1 against the A's.
Oakland's Game 1 struggles continue
Here's a nugget that was current prior to the end of Game 1:
Entering today, the A's have lost 7 straight Game 1s (including singular WC game as G1), the 3rd-longest such streak in postseason history.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 5, 2020
Only streaks longer:
2001-19 Braves -- 10
1995-98 Indians -- 8
As of Monday's defeat, that streak now stands at eight straight Game 1 losses including Wild Card Games. The A's haven't won a Game 1 since the 2003 ALDS against the Red Sox. Unfortunately for the A's, they went on to lose that series in five games.
History favors the Astros
Not surprisingly, the winner of Game 1 in a best-of-five series is in an enviable position going forward. According to data available at TheBaseballGauge.com, road teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-five series go on to win that series 71.4 percent of the time. That's across a sample of 63 MLB postseason best-of-five series in which the visiting team won the opener. Framed another way, the Astros right now have a 70 percent chance of being just the fifth team in MLB history to appear in the LCS in at least four straight seasons.