The Astros started the 2019 postseason right where they left off in the regular season---winning. After finishing with the best record in baseball with a club record 107 wins, Houston began postseason play with a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series before a raucous sold-out crowd at Minute Maid Park on Friday afternoon. The Astros lead the best-of-five series 1-0.
Two of the biggest stars from the Astros' 2017 World Series title run figured prominently in this one. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander hurled seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts. With the win, Verlander improved to 8-0 in 12 career appearances (11 starts) in the Division Series. Despite Verlander's dominance, the game was scoreless into the fifth inning, when Jose Altuve smacked a two-run homer to left-field to make it 2-0. It marks the third straight year Altuve has homered in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The Astros widened their lead later in the fifth when Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe dropped a popup in shallow right field off the bat of Yuli Gurriel to allow two more runs to score. Houston added two more in the seventh inning on RBI doubles from Yordan Alvarez and Gurriel. The Rays scored two runs in the eighth off of reliever Ryan Pressly, but Will Harris closed out the inning and Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth to close it out.
Game 2 is Saturday night at Minute Maid with the first pitch at 8:07. RHP Gerrit Gole will start for the Astros opposite LHP Blake Snell for the Rays. Saturday's game will be simulcast on KTRH with pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. on Sportstalk 790.