Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13457396aj) Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (44) hits a two-run double against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning in Game 1 of an American League Division Series baseball game in Houston ALDS Mariners Astros Baseball, Houston, United States – 11 Oct 2022
These two clubs faced each other nineteen times in the regular season, but those games no longer had any bearing on each team’s potential or outlook heading into the first of the best-of-five ALDS between the Astros and Mariners.
That proved true for the Mariners all the way into the ninth inning, where they were leading the Astros, at times by as many as four runs, before Yordan Alvarez’s momentous three-run walk-off homer to win the game, 8-7, and give the Astros a huge and at times seemingly impossible 1-0 lead in the ALDS.
Mariners all over Verlander early
As has been part of their recipe for winning games in 2022, the Mariners struck first to take the early momentum in ALDS Game 1. It came against Justin Verlander, who used up 24 pitches while facing six batters in the top of the first, including giving up an RBI single to Cal Raleigh to give Seattle an early 1-0 lead.
After the Astros went 1-2-3 on six pitches in the bottom of the first, Verlander went back to work but allowed back-to-back singles to start the top of the second, which would later lead to a two-RBI double by Julio Rodriguez, extending Seattle’s lead to 3-0. The Mariners continued to get strong contact against Verlander, with Ty France driving in another run on an RBI single, making it a four-run lead.
Houston strikes back, but Seattle keeps scoring to knock Verlander out
Houston had their first scoring threat in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Chas McCormick, who moved to second on a one-out walk to Jose Altuve. A flyout advanced McCormick to third, then Yordan Alvarez delivered a two-RBI double to cut Seattle’s lead in half, making it a 4-2 game heading to the fourth.
J.P. Crawford pushed the lead back to three runs in the top of the fourth, launching a two-out solo home run off of Verlander to make it 5-2 before a two-out RBI double by Ty France made it a four-run game again at 6-2. Verlander would finish the inning, but Dusty Baker would end his day there, a disappointing start to Verlander’s 2022 postseason: 4.0 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 81 P.
Yordan walks it off, Astros take ALDS Game 1
Yuli Gurriel helped try to shift the momentum back Houston’s way in the bottom of the fourth, blasting a leadoff solo home run to make it 6-3. Bryan Abreu entered from the bullpen in the top of the fifth, looking to hold the Mariners’ lead at three runs. Despite a one-out single, Abreu would get through the fifth scoreless.
Abreu remained on the mound in the top of the sixth, recording two more outs before Cristian Javier entered to finish the frame with a strikeout. Still 6-3 in the top of the seventh, Javier would allow a one-out solo shot by Eugenio Suarez to make it 7-3 before finishing the inning.
After Houston stranded a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh, they brought in Hunter Brown for the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, Brown would keep the score where it was. Yordan Alvarez reached base with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, and Alex Bregman would get the home crowd back into it with a two-run homer to make it a two-run game at 7-5.
Rafael Montero took over in the top of the ninth, hoping to keep it a two-run game and give his offense a chance in the bottom half. Montero did his job, getting a 1-2-3 frame. Houston went to work in the bottom of the ninth, getting two runners on base and bringing up Yordan Alvarez. Seattle countered with Robbie Ray, but Alvarez would get the heroic moment, blasting the three-run walk-off homer to win the game.
News and notes
Verlander overtakes Kershaw (for now): With his third strikeout of the day in the top of the fourth, Justin Verlander surpassed Clayton Kershaw for the most all-time postseason strikeouts, reaching 208 to exceed Kershaw’s 207. Kershaw is in line to start in NLDS Game 2 when the Dodgers take on the Padres on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Game 2 on Thursday: ALDS Game 2 will be another 2:37 PM Central start on Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park after both teams get a day off on Wednesday. Framber Valdez will face Luis Castillo in another tremendous pitching matchup.
McCullers Jr. for Game 3: Before ALDS Game 1, the Astros announced their rotation for the first three games, with Verlander in Game 1, Valdez in Game 2, then Lance McCullers Jr. taking the mound in Seattle for Game 3 on the road.