Lance McCullers Jr. looked terrific. Yordan Álvarez responded with the wood and José Altuve slid with precision to score.
These Astros clearly love October.
McCullers did not allow a run until the seventh inning and Houston defeated Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox 6-1 Thursday in the first game of the AL Division Series.
Michael Brantley added two hits and a pair of produced by the Astros, monarchs of the Western Division, who showed their experience in the playoffs by starting their participation with an impressive performance.
McCullers allowed four hits in 6 2/3 innings to mark his eighth career start in the playoffs.
“If your team gives you the ball in the first game, they expect something like that from you,” McCullers said.
Houston is in the postseason for the fifth time in a row. He won the 2017 World Series and advanced to the 2020 American League Championship Series.
Chicago has spun playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history. He lost to Oakland in the first round of 2020.
The second game of a maximum of five takes place this Friday in Houston. The teams also met in the 2005 World Series, when the White Sox swept Houston, which was then part of the National League.
The Astros spun their eighth victory in a first game of the divisional series, since they started the 2004 one against Atlanta.
“Everyone did their part and we achieved a great victory,” McCullers said.
McCullers, who became Houston’s ace after Gerrit Cole left as a free agent and Justin Verlander was injured, struck out four and walked away. He set his career best figures with 13 wins, 3.16 ERA and 185 strikeouts during the regular season.
However, the AL also led in the undesirable field of tickets, with 76.
The 28-year-old pitcher did not allow a hit until Yoán Moncada singled with one out in the fourth inning. The right-hander walked away to a standing ovation after allowing consecutive singles with no outs in the seventh inning.
He thanked the cheers of the fans, just before entering the cave.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Chicago manager Tony La Russa. “We didn’t achieve much against him.”
Cuban Alvarez hit an RBI double in the third inning and a solo home run in the fifth. Venezuelan Altuve surprised 40,497 fans in the third inning, when he slid home and slapped home plate, before Cuban Yasmani Grandal could touch him.
Lynn made his first playoff appearance since 2018, posting a 2.69 ERA, the best of his life, this season. However, the right depends on the fastball and the Astros are one of the best teams in the majors to hit those pitches.
Houston had five runs and six hits off Lynn in 3 2/3 innings. Five of the six hits Lynn allowed came in front of his cut or four-seam fastball.
Rookie Jake Meyers had two hits and drove in a run for Houston. Brantley ended Lynn’s task with a two-run single.
Chicago was put on the board by a single by Cuban José Abreu with two outs in the eighth inning.
However, Kendall Graveman retired Grandal with a line to center field for the last out.
For the White Sox, the Cubans Yoán Moncada 3-1, Abreu 4-2 with an RBI, Grandal 4-0, Luis Robert 3-2. The Dominicans Eloy Jiménez 4-1, Leury García 3-0.
For the Astros, the Venezuelan Altuve 4-1 with two runs scored. The Cubans Álvarez 3-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Yuli Gurriel 4-0. Puerto Ricans Carlos Correa 3-2, Martín Maldonado 4-0. AFP (HN)