Now you do you think he’s the MVP?
In one of the greatest solo performances of his or any Astro’s postseason career, a day in which Jose Altuve hit not one, not two, but three home runs, Houston scored a commanding 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in game one of the American League Division Series. Alex Bregman also hit a solo homer, while Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-RBI double and Brian McCann a two-RBI single. Justin Verlander, if not quite at his regular season best, was masterful nonetheless, giving up just six hits and two runs in six innings of work. Less successful by far was Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who gave up 6 earned runs in five-plus innings of work.
Here's how Houstonia's 'Stro Stories called the game as it happened:
6:30 p.m.: Top of the ninth. Joe Musgrove came to the mound and did the job. Astros win 8-2!
6:24 p.m.: In the bottom of the eighth, Gurriel flied out, Gonzalez grounded out and McCann flied out. One more chance for the Sox in the ninth....
6:17 p.m.: Will Harris came on to pitch the eighth inning for the Astros. Springer made a wonderful running catch of a sharply hit ball by Bogarts, Ramirez grounded to Correa, and Benintendi singled, with Springer making a nice play to hold Benintendi at first. But after Betts also singled, Hinch made the decision to pull Harris, replacing him with left-hander Francisco Liriano, who came in to get the final out. Astros 8, Red Sox 2.
5:53 p.m.: In the bottom of the seventh, the first batter up was Jose Altuve, which prompted loud cheers of "M-V-P" and unbelievably, Altuve's third home run of the game. Astros 8, Red Sox 2. After Correa flied out and Gattis walked, Derek Fisher, brought in to run for Gattis, was thrown out at second.
5:44 p.m.: After a strong outing in which he gave up two runs on six hits, manager A.J. Hinch brought in Chris Devenski to relieve Verlander in the top of the seventh. He promptly retired the side in order.
5:35 p.m.: In the bottom of the sixth, after Gattis started things off by doubling for the second time in the game and Reddick walked, Red Sox manager John Farrell took Sale out of the game. In 5-plus innings, the Red Sox ace had already given up 5 earned runs even as reliever Joe Kelly took the mound in relief. Gurriel immediately singled to load the bases for Gonzalez with nobody out. With the count at 3-2, orange towels flying everywhere, and every phone in the stadium trained on him, Gonzalez struck out. That brought up McCann, who became the seventh of the Astros' nine starters to stroke a hit, singling to right, plating two! Astros 7, Red Sox 2. McCann was out after Springer grounded into a fielder's choice, and then Bregman flied out to end the inning.
5:15 p.m.: Top of the sixth. Betts fouled out to Gurriel at first base, Moreland flied out to Springer in center, and Pedroia grounded out to Bregman. Three up, three down. Score remains Astros 5, Red Sox 2.
5:03 p.m.: In the bottom of the fifth, Springer struck out for his third time of the day, and Bregman struck out for the first time. But then up came Jose Altuve, who homered for the second time! Astros 5, Red Sox 2.
4:59 p.m.: In the top of the fifth, after Bogarts grounded out to short, Ramirez singled through the hole, but Benintendi grounded into a double play to end the inning.
4:50 p.m.: After Correa grounded out, Evan Gattis nearly homered to left, settling for a double. Next, Reddick appeared to be robbed by Bradley with a brilliant catch in center. The Astros challenged, however, and the call was overturned. With Gattis on second and Reddick on first, Gurriel popped out to shallow left. With two outs, Gonzalez stepped to the plate cracking a sharp double that bounced off the wall in center, scoring Gattis and Reddick. Astros 4, Red Sox 2.
4:35 p.m.: In the top of the fourth inning, Verlander gave up just his third and fourth hits of the day when right fielder Mookie Betts doubled and Mitch Moreland singled. With runners on first and third, Pedroia fouled out, then third baseman Rafael Devers flied out to Reddick but Betts beat the throw home, evening the score: Astros 2, Red Sox 2. Next, Leon singled, but Bradley grounded out to end the inning.
4:18 p.m.: In the bottom of the third, after Springer struck out, Bregman hit a sharp infield single off pitcher Sale. But even as the crowd chanted "M-V-P" for Altuve, the second baseman hit into a double play to end the inning.
4:12: The third inning began with the Astros leading 2-1. After Bradley flied out to Springer in center and Bogarts struck out, Hanley Ramirez (who took over as DH for the injured Nunez, who re-aggravated a right knee injury in the first inning) doubled to left field. But Benintendi popped out to the infield to end the inning.
4 p.m.: Reddick singled to start the second inning. After Yuli Gurriel flied out and Marwin Gonzalez struck out, Brian McCann came to the plate. A passed ball was charged to Leon, allowing Reddick to take second, but McCann ultimately struck out.
3:35 p.m.: The Sox get their first and second baserunners after Verlander walks first baseman Mitch Moreland and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. After Sandy Leon singled, Pedroia was thrown out at third by Josh Reddick, but not before Moreland scored. (Originally it was ruled that he had not crossed the plate before Pedroia was called out, but the umpire's call at home was overturned on review.)
3:25 p.m.: Alex Bregman rockets a bomb to left field and Jose Altuve follows with a shot to left-center. Astros lead 2-0!
3:12 p.m.: Top of the first and a bizarre start to the game. After Xander Bogaerts fouled out to Alex Bregman, the Sox's DH Eduardo Nunez hit a ball to Alex Bregman and almost immediately seemed to limp coming out of the box. Nunez collapsed before reaching first and was eventually carried off the field by trainers. Andrew Benintendi hung tough against Verlander, running the count full with several foul balls, but Verlander prevailed, striking out the left fielder. Three up, three down.
3 p.m.: With the ceremonial first pitch by Mattress Mack, the pregame festivities come to a close. The first pitch is just minutes away....
2:40 p.m.: Members of the Louisiana Cajun Navy arrive at the park under police escort. The ovation is long and heartfelt as the group presents the city with a Houston Strong flag that will hang from Minute Maid Park for the remainder of the postseason.
2:30 p.m.: Fans are arriving in earnest now and excitement is already building. Hard to imagine how loud this place is going to be in a few minutes. Meantime, here are some fans who caught the attention of photographer Marco Torres...
1 p.m.: The Astros have finished batting practice, the Red Sox are taking the field for theirs, and the stands are already beginning to fill with orange shirt types. Anyone on the way to the game is urged to take ride-sharing services and/or allow plenty of time to get to Minute Maid, especially as Texas Avenue, Crawford and Congress streets are all closed to traffic.
12:30 p.m.: The Astros have taken the field for batting practice. There’s a lot of smiling, and the Astros appear, to a man, to be a relaxed, loose bunch, at least until it’s someone’s turn to take a few swings. Alex Bregman nearly sprinted into the batter’s box, while Carlos Correa faced his pitches with a deadly seriousness. Jose Altuve’s swing, meanwhile, looked as beautiful as it ever has. This is going to be interesting.
Here’s the Astros’ batting order and starting lineup for game 1:
- George Springer (CF)
- Alex Bregman (3B)
- Jose Altuve (2B)
- Carlos Correa (SS)
- Evan Gattis (DH)
- Josh Reddick (RF)
- Yuli Gurriel (1B)
- Marwin Gonzalez (LF)
- Brian McCann (C)
P: Justin Verlander