The Houston Astros defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-five American League Division Series on Thursday evening. The Astros are now two wins away from securing a fifth consecutive trip to the AL Championship Series.
The Astros scored early and often, jumping ahead by a 1-0 margin in the second on a Jake Meyers single. Houston tacked on two more in the third, including one on a Yordan Alvarez double that narrowly missed clearing the wall. Alvarez did get his home run later, launching a solo shot in the fifth to push Houston's lead to 6-0.
On the run prevention side of things, the Astros were paced by starter Lance McCullers Jr. whose performance said: no Justin Verlander? No problem. McCullers held the White Sox to just four hits over 6 2/3 shutout innings. He threw 62 of his 104 pitches for strikes in recording his first no-walk start of the season, and he racked up a 12-to-2 ground-to-fly ball ratio. McCullers generated nine whiffs on 39 swings, including four on his new slider.
Now, for three takeaways from Houston's Game 1 win.
1. Lynn's woes with Houston continue
McCullers' counterpart, Lance Lynn, didn't have nearly as much fun. The White Sox starter was yanked in the fourth inning after yielding five runs on six hits and two walks. (He struck out four.) Lynn's recipe for success is and has been locating his fastball variations. Unfortunately for Lynn, the Astros seem to enjoy what he cooks up.
Dating back to 2018, Lynn has accumulated a 6.36 ERA and has allowed 63 hits in 52 innings against Houston. What's more is that the Astros' .761 regular-season OPS against Lynn is his fourth-worst mark against any team (minimum five appearances), behind only the Pirates, Orioles, and Marlins.
Depending on how the series goes, Lynn may well get another shot at vindication versus Houston. He could return for a decisive Game 5.
2. Alvarez crushes
We would be remiss if we didn't give Yordan Alvarez or, more specifically, Yordan Alvarez's home runs some additional love.
According to Statcast, Alvarez's home run had a 104.8-mph exit velocity and carried some 411 feet. Alvarez was unable to play in the postseason last year due to a knee injury. If he keeps this up, he'll have more than atoned for lost time.
3. Game 2 on Friday
Neither side will have to wait long to get back on the horse. ALDS Game 2 is scheduled to take place on Friday at 2:07 p.m. ET. Framber Valdez will get the ball for the Astros while Lucas Giolito attempts to keep the White Sox in this series before it shifts to Chicago.