Astros vs. Yankees ALCS 2022: Yuli Gurriel, Chas McCormick, Jeremy Peña blast HRs in Game 1 win

Justin Verlander struck out 11 Yankees to become baseball's current playoff strikeout king.

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Thursday, October 20, 2022
Astros take ALCS Game 1 behind 3 solo home runs and JV's record night
Justin Verlander added to his hall of fame-worthy career, turning in a quality start to become baseball's postseason strikeout king.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Did playing just three games in the last two weeks negatively impact the Houston Astros going into their American League Championship Series opener? Please.

The 'Stros used three long balls and Justin Verlander's record-setting night to give Houston the first game against the New York Yankees.

Here's how it went down:

JV allows solo blast, but takes postseason record

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) celebrates the third out during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the ALCS on Oct. 19, 2022, in Houston.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Houston's starting pitcher Justin Verlander threw a solid 22 pitches to begin Game 1 in the first inning, despite being tested with two Yankees on base.

But JV got dinged up in the second inning, hanging a slider to Harrison Bader, who smoked Verlander's pitch to the left field wall just below the train tracks. The homer gave New York the early lead, 1-0.

The Astros batters could have given Verlander run support before the Yankee home run. Houston had two baserunners on when Alex Bregman hit a line drive to right field that forced outfielder Aaron Judge to lay out for the catch, saving at least two runs.

Not all was lost for Verlander, who's in line for his third career Cy Young Award.

JV pitched six quality innings, allowing just three hits and one run and striking out 11 Yankees to give him the most postseason strikeouts in MLB history.

Maldy makes it happen

Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado (15) hits an RBI-double during the second inning in Game 1 of the ALCS on Oct. 19, 2022, in Houston.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

New York wouldn't lead for long.

After Chas McCormick singled up the middle, Houston catcher Martin Maldonado sailed a two-out double to the gap in deep right center to drive in a run.

Game 1 knotted up at 1-1 after two innings.

Astros miss out with bases loaded

Houston had a chance at taking the lead with bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning.

New York's Clarke Schmidt relieved Jameson Taillon after Jeremy Pena doubled down the third base line, his second two-bagger of the night. After the pitching change, Yordan Alvarez was intentionally walked and Alex Bregman was conventionally walked to load the bases.

However, Kyle Tucker couldn't convert, instead hitting into a double play via a grounder to second base.

Game remained tied at a run a piece.

La Piña, McCormick go deep

Houston Astros Yuli Gurriel (10) celebrates his solo homer during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the ALCS on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Houston.
AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox

In the Astros' very next offensive inning, Yuli Gurriel led off the sixth inning with a go-ahead solo blast to the Crawford Boxes. He sent Schmidt's slider 381 feet.

Houston up, 2-1, at that point.

Two batters later, Chas McCormick introduced Schmidt's baseball to right field, with a solo shot, which was his first career postseason home run.

Astros added to the lead, 3-1, and chased Schmidt out of the game.

Peña hits homer in 2nd straight playoff game

Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena (3) hits a double during the first inning in Game 1 of the ALCS on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Houston.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Let the rookie get some. After Hector Neris retired the Yankees in the top of the seventh inning, Jeremy Peña led off the bottom half with a solo home run towards the train tracks in left.

He made contact on Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas' slider and sent it 386 feet.

Houston extends the lead, 4-1.

Rizzo cuts into lead, but Pressly shuts the door on New York

The Astros maintained a lead heading into the eighth inning, with Rafael Montero relieving. But a 4-1 game kept the Yankees within screaming distance.

With four outs left before an Astros win, Montero allowed New York's Anthony Rizzo to send a homer out to right-center, cutting into the Houston lead, 4-2. Montero would put the next two batters on board before Ryan Pressly got his turn.

Lucky for 'Stros fans, Pressly has been rock solid, and he was able to retire the next four batters to give Houston the Game 1 win and 1-0 ALCS lead.

Verlander, Neris, Montero and Pressly combined to throw 17 strikeouts, which is the Yankees' second-most strikeout total in a postseason game.

Astros set ALCS roster

There wasn't anything too radical for manager Dusty Baker's 26-man roster in the league championship round.

All the players from the ALDS roster are included except for one spot: outfielder Jake Meyers was swapped out for righthanded relief pitcher Seth Martinez.

It's a clear sign that Baker wants to make his bullpen stronger than it already is. Eight Houston relief pitchers were used in the ALDS against the Mariners. They combined to allow only one run.

Meyers became the odd man out. He was among the Houston batters at the bottom of the order who were less-than-stellar.

There's hope that every spot in the order will contribute, and they can start doing so against...

A native of The Woodlands starts Game 1 for New York

Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon returned to his home area

Taillon, 30, appeared in just one game this postseason: a three-hit, two-run 10th-inning appearance in a losing effort against Cleveland.

Aside from that, Taillon got the chance to play before family and friends after showing off his baseball talent at The Woodlands High School, where he, as a senior, threw 19 strikeouts during a no-hitter.

Taillon's journey to the MLB could have gone a lot later than 2010 when he was drafted second overall. He signed a letter of intent to play for Rice University, which could have postponed his entry into professional baseball. He instead signed with the Pirates, the team that drafted him.

Taillon is also a cancer survivor. He had surgery for testicular cancer in 2017. His road to recovery was chronicled in ESPN The Magazine.

Jose Altuve: Yankee slayer

No. 27 isn't intimidated by a team that wants to win world championship No. 28.

Despite going hitless in 16 at-bats in the ALDS, Jose Altuve's history with the "Evil Empire" tips the scales in the 5-foot-6 second baseman's favor.

In 14 postseason meetings against the Yanks, Altuve is hitting .327 with four home runs, the latest of which was a walk-off game-winner that sent the Astros to the 2019 World Series.

And, by the way, Game 1 was played on the third anniversary of that big moment in Houston sports history.

New York maybe the matchup that helps Altuve break his slump.

Game 2 starter announced, Gary Pettis out, and other notes

Framber Valdez, who is the only lefthanded pitcher on the Astros' postseason roster thus far, gets the ALCS Game 2 start, Baker confirmed before Game 1.

"Framber's been throwing well the whole year," Baker told reporters.

The Astros missed one key person on the field for Game 1. Third-base coach Gary Pettis didn't man his corner of the infield due to illness. Omar Lopez, who usually coaches first base, filled in.

Game 2 is Thursday night at 6:37 p.m.

2022 AL Championship Series: Astros lead 1-0

  • Game 1: Astros 4, Yankees 2
  • Game 2: at Houston, Thursday, 6:37 p.m.
  • Game 3: at New York Yankees, Saturday, 4:07 p.m.
  • Game 4: at New York Yankees, Sunday, Oct. 23, 6:07 p.m.
  • Game 5*: at New York Yankees, Monday, Oct. 24, 3:07 p.m. or 4:07 p.m.
  • Game 6*: at Houston, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 5:07 p.m. or 6:37 p.m.
  • Game 7*: at Houston, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 6:37 p.m.

All times listed are CDT. Games 5-7 are if necessary*.

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