Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox, ALDS Recreation 1 of 2021 MLB playoffs

The Astros and White Sox have begun their best-of-five American League Division Series with Thursday’s Game 1 at Minute Maid Park. The Astros lead 6-0 after seven innings. Follow along here for breaking news, live updates and analysis from our team of writers. 

The people have spoken

6:12 p.m. — As the Astros begin the playoffs, the future of star shortstop Carlos Correa looms over Houston’s fanbase. The message is simple: Do whatever it takes, Jim Crane. — Brian T. Smith

Love for Lance

5:58 p.m. — The sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park, an announced 40,497 fans, gave Lance McCullers Jr. a standing ovation as he exited in the seventh inning after allowing consecutive two-out singles. McCullers tossed 6 ⅔ shutout innings and yielded four hits, one hit by pitch and four strikeouts on 104 pitches (62 strikes). He did not issue a walk for the first time this year. — Danielle Lerner

Hits for all but one

5:55 p.m. — AL batting champ Yuli Gurriel is the lone Cuban of five in today’s game who doesn’t have a hit. Yordan Alvarez has a solo homer and RBI double for the Astros, and Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert have singled for the White Sox. Gurriel is 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He fanned thrice in a game only twice in the regular season. — Steve Schaeffer

Duck’s dynasty

5:32 p.m. — High-fiving anyone in sight, Ron Duck was in a celebratory mood with his Astros in control.

“We’re a dynasty, bro,” said Duck, who turned 55 on Thursday.

Around his neck, Duck’s cartoonishly large bling made his feelings clear: “Astros versus Everybody.”

It’s because of the “incident” he said. That incident (or the 2017 sign-stealing scandal). The one that got garbage cans thrown on ballfields and signs calling out his team.

“We have taken all the licks and we have showed up,” Duck said.

That makes these playoffs a little sweeter. Getting to play — possibly, but definitely if you ask Duck — in the World Series while so many of those fans sit at home watching, waiting for next season.

“It’s like that, Astros versus everybody,” Duck said, offering a fist-bump before he wades back into the frenzied fans. — Dug Begley

Showing their support

5:11 p.m. — It took five innings for the chants to start. Fans in right field let out a loud “Pay Correa” chant during Carlos Correa’s third plate appearance of the game. A security guard was seen walking away with a fan’s sign that also read “Pay Correa.” Correa, the impending free agent in line for a massive payday, worked a walk despite the minor disturbance. — Chandler Rome

Alvarez goes deep

5:08 p.m. — The Astros play a little long ball, with Yordan Alvarez taking White Sox reliever Reynaldo López deep to right field for a leadoff home run and 6-0 Houston lead after five innings. — Greg Rajan

Yordan Rules. pic.twitter.com/k0TgR1wW7V

— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2021

Little resistance

5:04 p.m. — The White Sox have struck just two hard-hit balls against Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. through five scoreless innings. McCullers is dealing with one hit allowed on 81 pitches with four strikeouts — and, notably, no walks. — Danielle Lerner.

Behind enemy lines

5:03 p.m. — Not everyone in Minute Maid was ecstatic about the Astros’  5-0 lead.

“Let’s go White Sox!” Keyia Mandeldove yelled as she strutted the first floor concourse to a wave of boos.

Mandeldove, aka Sox Chic, cheers her team no matter what. Being on hostile turf is no different. They yell, and she understands.

“That’s what they are supposed to do,” she said. “That’s being a fan.”

So is raising a black and white towel, or posing in with Astros fans while hoping they lose.

“I yell at people all day,” she said. “They yell back.” — Dug Begley

Roughed up again

4:51 p.m. — The Astros’ latest annihilation of Lance Lynn lasted just 3⅔ innings. The burly righthander recorded 11 outs and surrendered five earned runs, prolonging his pitiful run against the Astros. Lynn, a former Rangers ace, has a 6.36 ERA against the Astros since the 2018 season. He’s allowed 63 hits in 52⅓ innings in that span. — Chandler Rome 

Lance Lynn threw 76 pitches. 74 of them were fastballs (97.4%), the highest fastball rate by any starting pitcher in a playoff game in the pitch tracking era (since 2008).

The Astros hit .290 against fastballs in the regular season, best in MLB. pic.twitter.com/tddi5VVZyE

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 7, 2021

Astros adding on

4:46 p.m. — Michael Brantley’s two-run single in the fourth puts the Astros up 5-0. They’re 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position (and one of the non-hits came on Alex Bregman’s RBI fielder’s choice to third). Give it to them now, and they’d surely take .429 for the entire postseason. — Steve Schaeffer

Not his day?

4:40 p.m. — Starting Lance Lynn hasn’t worked out for Tony La Russa or the White Sox today. More early trouble. Another mound conference. Astros at five hits and counting, with two on and two outs in bottom of fourth. — Brian T. Smith

Meyers rewards Baker’s faith

4:38 p.m. — Dusty Baker’s decision to start rookie Jake Meyers in center field for Game 1 drew some surprise. Meyers is a better defender than Chas McCormick but struggled mightily against righthanded pitching during his two months in the major leagues. In 105 plate appearances against righthanders, Meyers had a .676 OPS and .233 batting average. Naturally, Meyers — in his first playoff start — struck two of Houston’s first four hits against veteran righty Lance Lynn, including a run-scoring single in the second inning.  — Chandler Rome

Tough nut to crack

4:37 p.m. — The White Sox got a runner to second base with two outs, but Lance McCullers Jr. forced a groundball to get out of the inning. During the season, McCullers was second in the AL, holding opponents to .164 batting average with runners in scoring position. — Jerome Solomon

Cruise control for McCullers

4:31 p.m. — Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. has been sharp through four innings. One hit, three strikeouts, not much else for Chicago’s bats. Still 3-0 Astros with the home team in control, thus far. — Brian T. Smith

Astros expand lead

4:12 p.m. — It’s 3-0 Astros in the bottom of the third inning and Game 1 of this ALDS looks very familiar when compared to recent postseasons. The Astros’ bats are delivering, their loaded lineup is giving the White Sox trouble and Jose Altuve’s speed resulted in the second run of the game. Then Yordan Alvarez blasted an RBI double to left-center, forcing Chicago to hold an early mound conference. — Brian T. Smith

What a slide pic.twitter.com/On85LO24he

— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2021

Small ball still has a place

4:11 p.m. — In saying Wednesday that baseball in 2021 still has “a place for the whole game,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa mentioned the stolen base and the sacrifice. So who lays down his first sacrifice bunt since 2018? The Astros’ Michael Brantley, helping the Astros to two third-inning runs and a 3-0 lead. — Steve Schaeffer

Working efficiently

4:03 p.m. — Through three innings, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. got through the White Sox order once on 41 pitches. He deployed his curveball effectively, using it for two strikeouts with a 44 percent called-strike-plus-whiff rate. — Danielle Lerner

Astros strike first

3:48 p.m. — The Astros’ biggest advantage in this series is their elite defense — and they plan to exploit it. The White Sox are, by every available metric, a below-average defensive team. Expect Houston to try aggression on the basepaths and test it. Look no further than Yordan Alvarez’s aggression in the second inning. He tagged up from second to third base on Kyle Tucker’s 321-foot flyout to center field. Adam Engel threw errant of the cut-off man, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Alvarez got in to third base standing up. Three pitches later, he scored the game’s first run Jake Meyers’ two-out single. The Astros lead 1-0 after two innings. — Chandler Rome 

First #postseason at-bat, first hit for Jake Meyers. pic.twitter.com/xScZLWXM29

— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2021

Happy to be there

3:47 p.m. — As they filed into Minute Maid Park, fans said they were simply happy to be back in the ballpark for playoff games after a year that for some felt like a bat to the head.

“They fought and we fought,” said Mark Carlisle, 55. “And we’re here. Standing strong.”

Carlisle admitted it didn’t always feel that way, for him or the team. Last year separated from his daughter and grandson was rough. He got vaccinated and visited them — ironically on the South Side of Chicago in White Sox territory — right around the time in June when the Astros were sweeping Chicago in Houston.

The Astros, meanwhile, also started sluggish — at least based on expectations — then as the temperature climbed so did their success. 

“It was a fun season, but one they worked for,” Carlisle said. “Nothing was handed to them.” — Dug Begley

His time of year

3:44 p.m. — Carlos Correa singles to right field with one out in the second inning for the first hit of the ALDS. Of course. — Brian T. Smith

On base, then quickly erased

3:31 p.m. — In his first at-bat versus the Astros this season, White Sox center fielder Luis Robert is hit on the hand with a pitch by Lance McCullers. Trainers examine Robert and determine he can stay in. He is the firstbase runner of the game. He tries to steal second, but is thrown out by Astros catcher Martín Maldonado to end the top of the second inning. If you missed it, check out this pregame feature on Maldonado’s importance to the Astros. — Danielle Lerner

The Machete cuts down another runner. pic.twitter.com/XclqnG6sgb

— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2021

Different approaches

3:26 p.m. — Some first-inning impressions of both starters: Lance McCullers Jr. is going to need his slider against such a righthanded-heavy White Sox lineup. He threw seven of them in a 17-pitch first frame.

Lance Lynn is going to give the Astros a ton of fastballs — four-seamers, cutters and sinkers. Look for the Astros to make contact, not chase a ton and maybe hit into some bad luck. Take Alex Bregman’s lineout to end the first — was 101.4 mph off his bat and had a .740 expected batting average.  — Chandler Rome

Dressed for the occasion

3:25 p.m. — Michelle Mancias, 44, is over the moon for the Astros to be back in the playoffs. Or at least she’s dressed for it, courtesy a youth’s XL astronaut costume and an Astros fanny pack.

“I was so glad it fit,” Mancias said. “The adults are expensive.”

The spacesuit is one of many outfits Mancias dons, often representing something cultural but always Astros. For Hispanic Heritage Weekend she was a dervish of shades orange, centered by various flags from Latin American and South American countries. To celebrate Mexican fans, she sported a sombrero and traditional garb.

“Sometimes I want to wear an Astros T-shirt and look like everyone else, sometimes I want to look different,” she said.

Michelle Mancias, 44, shows off her astronaut costume in the concourse of Minute Maid Park as the American League Divisional Series begins between the Astros and Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Mancias often dresses up for games, including Hispanic-themed ones such as the one she displayed on her husband’s phone.

Dug Begley

With the Astros back in the postseason, she said today deserved a special outfit, but she wasn’t flying high for any special reason. Thursday was the first playoff game at home since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. Last year’s postseason games were played on the road or at neutral sites.

“I’m just glad to be here,” she said. — Dug Begley

Strong first for McCullers

3:17 p.m. — Lance McCullers Jr. retires the top of the White Sox order on 17 pitches in the first inning, including a strikeout of Tim Anderson. — Danielle Lerner. 

Abreu in for White Sox

2:14 p.m. — Jose Abreu, who had been battling a fever, will play Game 1 for the White Sox and bat third as the DH. Chicago will go with the following lineup. — Steve Schaeffer.

1. Tim Anderson SS
2. Yoan Moncada 3B
3. Jose Abreu DH
4. Yasmani Grandal C
5. Luis Robert CF
6. Eloy Jimenez LF
7. Gavin Sheets 1B
8. Adam Engel RF
9. Leury Garcia 2B
Lance Lynn, RHP

Crane: On Dusty Baker’s future

1:55 p.m. —The decision on Dusty Baker’s future will be a joint one between Astros general manager James Click and Jim Crane, the owner said prior to Game 1. Baker is managing the postseason without a contract in place for the 2022 season.  — Chandler Rome

Crane: Astros likely to give Verlander qualifying offer

1:32 p.m. — The Astros will “probably” extend a one-year qualifying offer to veteran starter Justin Verlander this winter, but owner Jim Crane said on Thursday the ace righthander is seeking “a contract of some length” in free agency. Click here to read more of what Crane had to say about the injured ace. — Chandler Rome

Abreu’s status still in doubt

12:30 p.m. — White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he has given two Game 1 lineups to the Astros. Whether he’ll use the one with Jose Abreu will depend on the reigning AL MVP’s pregame workout. Abreu, who sat out the last game of the season, had been battling a fever that broke Wednesday. La Russa said Abreu will DH if he plays. — Steve Schaeffer

Crane: Astros ‘have a chance’ to keep Correa

12:09 p.m. — Astros owner Jim Crane said before Thursday’s Game 1 that the team expects to be “in the mix” to keep shortstop Carlos Correa, who’s eligible to be a free agent at season’s end.

“We’ll definitely be in the mix as the season gets over and we address that,” Crane said. “He’s been a brand here since he got here. He’s a heck of an athlete. I think we have a chance. It just depends on where we end up on that.”

Click here for more on Crane’s comments regarding Correa. — Chandler Rome

Promise kept

11:34 a.m. — Zack Greinke promised Carlos Correa a signed glove if he finished in the top three in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this season. Greinke has delivered on that promise. — Chandler Rome.

Zack Greinke gave Carlos Correa a signed glove with a personalized message for finishing in the top-three in WAR. From Correa’s Instagram story. pic.twitter.com/uCorfxO55s

— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) October 7, 2021

Astros’ lineup for Game 1

11:15 a.m. — The Astros will go with the following lineup for Game 1 against the White Sox. — Chandler Rome.

1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Michael Brantley, LF
3. Alex Bregman, 3B
4. Yordan Alvarez, DH
5. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
6. Carlos Correa, SS
7. Kyle Tucker, RF
8. Jake Meyers, CF
9. Martín Maldonado, C
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP

Keuchel doesn’t make Sox roster

10:52 a.m. — Former Astros ace Dallas Keuchel did not make the White Sox’ American League Division Series roster after an awful season. Keuchel finished with a 5.28 ERA and 1.531 WHIP across 162 innings. The White Sox teased that Keuchel could be available out of the bullpen — and he even made a relief appearance during the team’s final regular-season series — but opted to omit him from their roster entirely Thursday. Keuchel, who won the 2015 American League Cy Young Award in Houston, signed a three-year, $55.5 million deal with the White Sox last season. He left the Astros after the 2018 season and spent 2019 in Atlanta. — Chandler Rome

Roster set

10:40 a.m. — The Astros have announced their 26-man roster for the ALDS against the White Sox, with veteran starter Zack Greinke, despite his recent ineffectiveness, making the cut along with outfielder Jose Siri, who fractured his right pinkie finger during the final series of the regular season. The team will carry 12 pitchers, three catchers, five infielders and six outfielders. The most notable exclusions: veteran starter Jake Odorizzi, signed during spring training, is on the nine-man taxi squad as is lefthanded reliever Blake Taylor as the team opted to carry Brooks Raley as the team’s lone lefty in the bullpen. Infielder Marwin Gonzalez, a 2017 World Series hero who rejoined the team late this season, also did not make the active roster. Click here to see the Astros’ full ALDS roster.  — Chandler Rome

Clear skies, closed roof

10:40 a.m. — It’s a great day for baseball as they like to say. Clear skies and a forecast high of 88. But the roof will be closed at Minute Maid for Games 1 and 2, just in case. Keeping the roof closed has been standard procedure since the 2005 World Series, when then-MLB commissioner Bud Selig ordered it opened against the Astros’ wishes. Belinda Munro will sing the national anthem today while the colors will be presented by the Joint Services Color Guard. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale will throw out the first pitch and Houston rap legend Bun B will handle the “Play Ball” call. Click here for more on the pregame festivities for Thursday and Friday. — Greg Rajan

Previewing the series

• Carlos Correa knows the playoffs might be his last hurrah with the Astros.
• Yuli Gurriel, a first-time batting champ at 37, is primed for another World Series run.
• Catcher Martín Maldonado is the glue paving the Astros’ playoff path
• The ALDS renews a long (friendly?) rivalry between Astros manager Dusty Baker and White Sox counterpart Tony La Russa, who also played one game as teammates long ago. 
• Breaking down the position-by-position matchups in the series.
• The Astros’ Kyle Tucker is quietly cementing his status as a star — and one of the best lefthanded batters in all of baseball.
• A key decision faces the Astros: starting Chas McCormick or Jake Meyers in center field?
• Former Astros Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel may be working in a new role for the White Sox this series.
• Geoff Blum hit a game-winning home run for the White Sox against Houston in the 2005 World Series. But he’s all-in on the Astros.
• MLB Network’s Robert Flores, a proud Houston native, says this Astros run of success is on par with the Rockets’ Clutch City era in the 1990s.
• Take a look back at how the Astros fared against the White Sox during the regular season.
• We preview the series on the latest episode of the Texas Sports Nation podcast.
• Here’s how and when to watch all the games.
• The best food and drink to enjoy while watching the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

For much more coverage on the series, go to our Astros page.

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