HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- And just like that, the Houston Astros are one win away from going deeper in the postseason than anyone expected for the No. 6 seed in the American League playoffs.
The 'Stros used steady outings by starting pitcher Zach Greinke and reliever Framber Valdez to propel them to late inning runs against the Twins. Houston defeated Minnesota, 4-1, in Game 1.
The Astros can advance to the AL Division Series with a win either tomorrow in Game 2 or Thursday in a potential Game 3.
After threatening to score for much of the game, Houston tied it up 1-1 in the 7th inning thanks to a George Springer RBI single. They took the lead in the 9th when, with bases loaded, Twins reliever Sergio Romo walked Jose Altuve to score Yuli Gurriel. Michael Brantley later added two runs to seal the victory.
Greinke gave up Minnesota's only run in the 3rd inning to Nelson Cruz, whose double drove in Max Kepler.
After four innings, Greinke gave way to Valdez, who used 66 pitches to keep Minnesota scoreless for five innings. Valdez, who got the win, struck out five batters and allowed two walks.
The Astros clinched the playoff spot, which in any other season would mean an elimination from postseason contention, by going 29-31 in the 60-game regular season.
Under the new playoff rules, the entire wild card series is being played in Minneapolis. The Astros will need to win two on the road to advance to the AL divisional round, where either the Athletics or Chicago White Sox would be the opponent.
After the end of the 60-game regular season, the Astros found out when they would face the Twins. Here is the series schedule, with the first game airing on ABC13:
- Game 1: Astros 4, Twins 1
- Game 2: Wednesday, noon, ESPN2
- Game 3: Thursday (if necessary; TV broadcast to be determined)
The Astros qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after finishing second in the AL West. The eight teams to qualify in each league include the three division champions, the second-place teams in each division, and the two best remaining league records regardless of division.
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The Twins mark the first opponent that the Astros have faced who aren't in the AL West or NL West this season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB kept teams limited to opponents in their own division and the corresponding division in the opposite league.
If the Astros make a deep playoff run, they would have to play the AL divisional and championship series in California. Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium and San Diego's Petco Park were designated as neutral sites for that portion of the bracket.
The 2020 World Series will all take place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.