The defending World Series champion Houston Astros are the favorites to win it again this year, and they appear ready to do so after their 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS.
It was all ‘Stros all game.
It was supposed to be a marquee matchup of potential Cy Young candidates, Kluber vs. Verlander. You’d expect a pair of 7-inning, scoreless outings with about 12 strikeouts apiece.
That was not the case.
Kluber’s postseason woes continued; he didn’t escape the fifth inning, giving up 6 hits and allowing 4 runs, 3 of which were homers. Kluber has notoriously struggled in October, giving up 17 runs over his last 15 innings in the playoffs with 9 home runs allowed over that stretch. Not ideal for a Game 1 starter.
The true star of the show was on the other side of the diamond, Justin Verlander. The 35-year-old righty was in peak form, as he carried a no-hitter into the 6th inning, finishing with a most impressive line of 5 ⅔ innings giving up 2 hits and 2 runs while striking out 7. Once the Astros gave him some offense to work with, it was game over for Cleveland.
Each member of the Astros big three had a home run on the day, with breakout phenomenon Alex Bregman going deep off Kluber in the 4th inning to break the scoreless tie. Bregman has now built the reputation of beating baseball’s best in October, as he has now homered off the likes of Kluber, Chris Sale, Kenley Jansen, and Clayton Kershaw.
The Astros bullpen locked down the game once Verlander came out, with Ryan Pressley, Lance McCullers, and piece-of-shit Roberto Osuna finishing off the Tribe.
The Astros will look to extend their lead to 2-0 tonight, as they send out strikeout artist Gerrit Cole. The Indians will counter with Carlos Carrasco.
Game 2 start time 4:37 EST.
Photo: Houston Chronicle