Astros Take ALDS Game One 6-1: Four Thoughts

Lance McCullers had himself a game.
Lance McCullers had himself a game. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros took Game 1 of the American League Division series against the Chicago White Sox 6-1 on Thursday at Minute Maid Park in front of a raucous home crowd. Lance McCullers with six-and-two-thirds innings and the bats came alive against Chicago's vaunting pitching staff.

White Sox starter Lance Lynn gave up five runs in three-and-two-thirds innings and seemed under the gun for his entire outing. And Chicago's bats fell silent with only one hit through six innings. In the first game of the ALDS, it was all Astros. Here are our thoughts.

Hottest hitters were cold.

The Astros had plenty of offense, but not from their best and hottest hitters. Batting champion Yuli Gurriel and the hot hitting Kyle Tucker were a combined 0-8 with five strikeouts. Neither looked particularly comfortable at the plate. Conversely, Jake Meyers was 2-4 with the first RBI of the game. Like much of the season, when one part of the Astros lineup struggles, the rest are more than happy to take up the slack.

Maybe that many fastballs against the Astros was a bad choice.

Lance Lynn likes to throw heat. The Astros love to hit fastballs. So, maybe Lynn's decision to use his fastball for a whopping 97 percent of his pitches wasn't the smartest move. The White Sox bullpen did a better job of mixing and matching pitches, keeping the Astros off balance, but Lynn tried to beat them with heat and it backfired.

Big game Lance McCullers showed up on the mound.

On the other side, McCullers only threw four strikeouts, but with all the soft contact he was inducing it felt like a lot more. He was in command through six innings. The only trouble was in the seventh when he was pulled after eclipsing 100 pitches and gave up a couple of singles. But, he was everything the Astros needed, giving them a long outing and protecting the bullpen. He was stellar.

Let's talk about that slide.

In the bottom of the third and Jose Altuve on third, Lance Bregman hit a soft grounder to the left side. It was fielded and fired home as Altuve reached the plate. But, instead of being caught, the Astros second baseman flew past the plate and stuck his hand back just underneath the tag of the White Sox catcher. It was a classic Jose Altuve moment and a big moment in the game.

The Astros play Game 2 at home in the best of five series on Friday at 1:07 p.m.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke