Lance McCullers Jr. carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning and Jake Meyers contributed two hits Thursday afternoon as the host Houston Astros crushed the Chicago White Sox 6-1 in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Yordan Alvarez homered, drove in two runs and scored twice for the Astros, who moved within two wins in the best-of-five of a fifth consecutive trip to the AL Championship Series.
Supported by an offense that put up runs in four straight innings, McCullers (1-0) took a 6-0 lead into the top of the seventh before yielding three hits in a four-batter stretch.
He was relieved with two on and two outs by Phil Maton, who retired Gavin Sheets on a ground ball to end the threat.
Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly finished up for the Astros, the AL West champs who finished the regular season with 95 wins, two more than the AL Central-winning White Sox.
Making his eighth career postseason start, McCullers allowed four hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, speaking postgame on FOX, said of McCullers, “He likes to pitch in these kinds of games. This is the kind of guy he is. I was kinda expecting this, and he did it.”
McCullers added on Fox, “For me to get the start and put up a solid performance … I’m most proud that I did well for the guys. They did so well today. They hit well.”
Meyers, making his postseason debut, got the Astros on the board in the second inning with a two-out, RBI single that plated Alvarez. Meyers singled again and scored on Michael Brantley’s two-run single in the fourth.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Meyers, “He got us on the board, then he got another hit. The first one is always the toughest one. You get that first one and it gives you confidence for the second one and hopefully down the line for the series.”
In between, Alvarez highlighted a two-run third with an RBI double. He later added a solo home run, the second of his postseason career, to make it 6-0 in the fifth.
White Sox starter Lance Lynn (0-1) couldn’t finish the fourth. He was charged with five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.
Brantley and Carlos Correa joined Meyers and Alvarez with two hits each for the Astros, who out-hit the White Sox 10-7.
Jose Abreu, who had been questionable for the game while battling flu-like symptoms, went 2-for-4 as the Chicago designated hitter, driving in his team’s lone run with a two-out single in the eighth.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Abreu, “What he did today is routine, and you almost take it for granted. His commitment to the team and his toughness is as good as could possibly be for anybody who’s played the game.”
Luis Robert also had two singles for the White Sox, who did not have an extra-base hit in the game.
“Our club doesn’t get discouraged,” La Russa said. “When you get beat, you tip your cap and you come out tomorrow. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll come out ready to play.”
–Field Level Media