In a rather predictable Game 1 of the American League Division Series (ALDS), the Houston Astros walked away with a convincing 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
While some aspects were expected, we saw big performances from Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow and a promising return from Houston shortstop Carlos Correa.
With the Astros now leading the series 1-0, Houston (starting pitcher Gerrit Cole) will face Tampa Bay (starting pitcher Blake Snell) again on Saturday.
Three takeaways from Astros' Game 1 ALDS win over Rays
Rays proved why they are underdogs
The Rays entered Game 1 of the ALDS as big underdogs. Tampa Bay put up a fight to stop one of the most potent offenses in MLB, but it ultimately was not enough as the Rays made crucial mistakes. Houston arguably have the best starting rotation in MLB with Justin Verlander, Cole and Zack Greinke, though Tampa Bay held the Astros scoreless through four innings with Glasnow pitching for the majority of that time.
Houston finished the regular season winning an MLB-high 107 games. The Rays, who went 4-3 against Houston in the regular season, had 96 victories with a versatile roster in a tough AL East. But they did earn their spot in this series after knocking off the Oakland Athletics 5-1 in the wild-card round on Wednesday.
The Rays missed out on key opportunities to change the course of the game, with the most notable mistake coming when Yuli Gurriel hit a popup to right field with two outs in the fifth. A miscommunication between second baseman Brandon Lowe and outfielder Austin Meadows resulted in two runs scoring for the Astros, giving Houston a 4-0 lead.
With Friday's loss, Tampa Bay's best chance of taking down the Astros likely came and went with Glasnow's start.
Tyler Glasnow kept Rays in game
One main reason the Astros did not score more runs in Game 1 – Glasnow kept the Rays in the game. Glasnow impressed in Friday's start, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out five.
He did not allow a score from Houston until he threw a fastball up in the zone to Jose Altuve, who hit it into the left-field stands. The hit gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning.
The throw ended up being the last of Glasnow's 76-pitch outing. He was replaced briefly by Brendan McKay and then Chaz Roe in relief.
Carlos Correa finally looks healthy
Correa, who hit .279 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs this season, is back and he looks healthy. The Astros shortstop played a career-low 75 games this season because of rib and back injuries. He missed nearly two months with a broken rib first and then another month with a back problem that also forced him to miss the last week of the regular season.
Correa, known to thrive when it matters most as he has slugged eight home runs in 32 postseason games, hit seventh in the Astros lineup behind six players who hit at least .290, further cementing Houston's depth.
In his first at-bat on Friday, he got a two-out single. The hit marked the first scoring threat of the game, though the Astros were not able to capitalise on it.