The first inning was a breeze, as both pitchers made quick work of the opposition. Astros starter Justin Verlander only needed seven pitches in the first, while Rangers starter Jordan Montgomery breezed through in 10 pitches.
Verlander recorded an out on the first pitch of the top of the second, so he had gotten through 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in only eight pitches. However, the Rangers put together a nice inning after that. Evan Carter hit a line drive, and first baseman/old friend José Abreu got a glove on it, but he could not make the catch. Abreu’s glove slowed the ball down, so it took longer for right fielder Kyle Tucker to get to the ball. Carter took advantage of this by hustling into second for a double. From there, Jonah Heim drove in the first run of the game with a single.
Nathaniel Lowe just missed a homer to deep center, but his 398-footer was caught for the second out. However, the Rangers kept the inning alive with a Josh Jung single and a Leody Taveras walk to load the bases. That brought up Marcus Semien, who worked a seven-pitch at-bat before popping out.
The score remained 1-0 until the fourth, when Verlander uncharacteristically hung a 1-2 slider to Taveras, who drilled his first homer of the postseason.
Outside of those blips on the radar, Verlander (6 2⁄3 innings, two runs on six hits) was terrific. However, Montgomery (6 1⁄3 innings, no runs on five hits, all of which were singles) was even better. Although the Astros batted .333 with runners in scoring position, they only had three such at-bats.
Down the stretch, Rangers relievers were terrific, combining for 2 2⁄3 shutout innings. The Rangers bullpen, led by Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and José Leclerc, did not allow any hits.
The Astros appeared to be in position to get on the board in the eighth, when José Altuve drew a leadoff walk, and Alex Bregman launched a deep fly ball to left-center. However, Carter made a great catch on the warning track, and Altuve, who had passed second base, suddenly had to retreat all the way back to first. On the way back, Altuve failed to re-touch second, so Bregman’s blast turned into a bizarre double play. The final four Houston batters were retired, as there was no drama in the ninth.
Remember the hustle double by Carter and the homer by Taveras? Those were the only extra-base hits for either team throughout this game.
Abreu finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Despite this modest performance, he has been great overall for the Astros in the postseason (.300 average, 1.083 OPS).
Across the league, there are two games that are scheduled for Monday. Houston and Texas are set to play Game 2 at 3:37 p.m. Central, while Arizona and Philadelphia are scheduled to begin their series at 7:07 p.m. Central.