The Houston Astros, baseball’s reigning World Series champions, played like they’re hungry for more on Friday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, taking game one of the American League Division Series from the Cleveland Indians, 7-2.
What started out as a pitchers’ duel between the clubs’ two aces, Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber, quickly became something of a slugfest after Alex Bregman stroked a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes off Kluber in the fourth inning. A few batters later, first baseman Yuli Gurriel scored after Josh Reddick hit a sharp single to right, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead.
The highlight of the game came in the following inning, when George Springer and Jose Altuve exploded with back-to-back homeruns to thunderous cheers from the crowd of 43,514. Verlander was nearly flawless in the first five innings, but in the sixth gave up back to back singles by Indians Yan Gomes and Francisco Lindor, and then a walk to Michael Brantley, at which point manager AJ Hinch brought in reliever Ryan Pressly for Verlander. Pressly’s first pitch was a wild one, allowing Gomes to score. The next batter, Jose Ramirez, grounded to first, allowing Lindor to score, which cut the Astros’ lead in half.
In the bottom of the seventh, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado, playing in the first postseason game of his career, lofted a ball into the Crawford Boxes for a solo homerun. The next batter, Springer, singled and later scored after a single by Bregman, giving the Astros a 6-2 lead. After Tyler White doubled in the bottom of the eighth and Myles Straw was brought in to pinch-run, the speedster raced around the bases on a Reddick single, scoring the ’Stros final run.
It was a near perfect start to the Houston’s postseason, and as the merry crowds poured from Minute Maid Park on a hot October afternoon, the chants of RE-PEAT, RE-PEAT were lusty and clear.