The Rays gift Verlander two free runs in the 5th and he doesn’t give them back on the way to a 6-2 Game 1 Victory.
Justin Verlander didn’t allow a hit and Tyler Glasnow was nearly as untouchable until the fifth inning when both of those facts became fiction. With one on and one out, Glasnow challenged Atluve with a fastball up and away that Altuve finally caught up to, driving it over the Crawford Boxes and just barely hooking it inside the left field foul pole.
Glasnow was removed from the game before facing the next batter, Michael Brantley, who beat the shift and singled into right-center. Bregman followed with an impressive swing that netted him a double off the wall in left field. With two on and one out, Yordan Alvarez recorded his second strikeout of the game, bringing Yuli Gurriel to the plate with two outs. Gurriel popped up to shallow right field, ending the inning OH WAIT Lowe dropped a catchable ball, allowing two more runs to score for the Astros.
The Rays normally extremely reliable defense let them down again when CF Kevin Kiermaier overran a Yordan Alvarez base-hit that ended up being a double and should’ve been a single. Bregman would come in to score from second on that same play. With Kiermaier’s arm in center, that should’ve been a play at the plate that was an easy jog for Bregman. In the next at-bat Meadows failed to reach a ball hit high and right down the right-field line which became a ground-rule-double and scored Alvarez from second making it a 6-0 lead for Houston.
Ryan Pressly came in in relief of Verlander to start the 8th, when the Rays added two runs before Will Harris came in to calm things down and get out of the inning. Osuna came in the top of the ninth to wrap things up and secure the victory for the hometown Astros and Minute Maid in game 1 of the Orange Juice Series.
That’s all well and good but this game is really about one player: Justin Verlander. In 7 innings of work, he was nearly untouchable, dazzling at times, including the 7th inning, when he struck out the side in order in route to his 6, 7 and 8th Ks. He used his entire arsenal effectively, with an at times overpowering fastball and exceptional movement on his off-speed pitches. Of the 100 pitches he threw, 67 were strikes. In terms of their friendly rivalry, Gerrit Cole has a tall order tomorrow night in matching or beating Verlander’s effort this afternoon.
T. Glasnow: L/ 0-1/ 4.1 IP/ 4 H/ 2 R/ 2 ER/ 3 BB/ 5K/ 1 HR/ 4.15 ERA/ 76 P
B. Mckay: 0.1 IP/ 2 H/ 2 R/ 0 ER/ 0 BB/ 1 K/ 0 HR/ 0.00 ERA/ 9 P
Y. Diaz: 0-2/ 0 RBI/ 0 HR/ 0 R
J. Verlander: W/ 1-0/ 7.0 IP/ 1 H/ 0 R/ 0 ER/ 3 BB/ 8 K/ 0 HR/ 0.00 ERA/ 100 P
R. Pressly: 0.2 IP/ 4 H/ 2 R/ 2 ER/ 0 BB/ 0 K/ 0 HR/ 27.00 ERA/ 18 P
R. Osuna: 1.0 IP/ 0 H/ 0 R/ 0 ER/ 0 BB/ 2 K/ 0 HR/ 0.00 ERA/ 12 P
J. Altuve: 1-3/ 2 RBI/ 1 HR/ 0 BB/ 1 R/ 0 K
A. Bregman: 1-2/ 1 RBI/ 0 HR/ 2 BB/ 2 R/ 0 K
The Rays pitching staff was largely as good as advertised until the wheels came off in the 5th and 7th innings, with Glasnow’s one real mistake costing him dearly off of Altuve’s bat. It’s hard to fault him for going to that pitch though, as the Astros’ hitters had yet to show they were up to the task against his fastball.
In relief, McKay was actually fairly solid, and was the victim of poor play by his LF, Austin Meadows, and 2B Nate Lowe. The early success of the staff against a dangerous and deep Astros lineup should give Rays fans significant hope going into game 2.
Sometimes a pitcher just beats you. I know that it seems odd to talk about a team that scored 6 runs as underperforming, but that’s where we are with the Astros. The Rays need to hope that Gerrit Cole isn’t as good as Verlander Saturday night, because the Astros lineup won’t be this silent forever.
They’ll do it all over again in game 2 tomorrow night at 9:07 pm on FS1.