MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Tampa Bay0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 251
Houston0 0 0 0 4 0 2 0 x 690
  W: J. Verlander (1-0)   L: T. Glasnow (0-1)
11:05 AM PT12:05 PM MT1:05 PM CT2:05 PM ET14:05 ET18:05 GMT2:05 11:05 AM MST1:05 PM EST1:35 PM VEN22:05 UAE1:05 PM CT, October 4, 2019
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 43,360

Verlander, Astros not taking Glasnow, Rays lightly

According to STATS
According to STATS

Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros

  1. The Astros won a franchise record 107 games en route to their third consecutive 100-win season. Houston's 311 wins over the last three regular seasons are the sixth-most by any team all-time over any three-season span, and most since the Baltimore Orioles rattled off 318 wins from 1969-71.
  2. The Rays finished the regular season with a 96-66 record in 2019. Tampa Bay has recorded six 90-win seasons this decade (since 2010), tied with the Yankees for second most in MLB over that time (LAD - 7).
  3. Former Astro Charlie Morton was the winning pitcher for the Rays in the AL Wild Card game, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to earn the win in three winner-take-all playoff games (also 2017 ALCS Game 7 and 2017 World Series Game 7).
  4. Yandy Diaz returned to bat leadoff for the Rays in the Wild Card game after missing 58 of the team's final 59 games of the season. Diaz homered in each of his first two at-bats in his return, becoming the first leadoff hitter in MLB history to hit a home run in each of his first two at-bats of a single postseason.
  5. Justin Verlander struck out 12 batters in his final regular season start to bring his season total to 300. Verlander and Gerrit Cole (326) are just the second pair of teammates all-time to strikeout 300+ batters in the same season, joining Randy Johnson (334) and Curt Schilling (316) of the 2002 Diamondbacks. Verlander ranks fourth in MLB postseason history with 167 strikeouts, trailing only John Smoltz (199), Andy Pettitte (183) and Roger Clemens (173).
  6. Tyler Glasnow has made four starts since returning from a forearm injury in early September; over these four starts, Glasnow has a 1.46 ERA and a .119 opponent average, though his longest start during this stretch was just 4.1 innings in his final start of the season at Toronto on September 27.
  7. The Rays won the season series against the Astros this year, 4-3, and have won the season matchup over Houston in each of the last three seasons. Tampa Bay is 12-9 against Houston since 2017, the best record of any AL team against the Astros over that time.
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 10/4/2019 thru 10/4/2019
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

HOUSTON -- The greatest disparity on paper between the two combatants in Game 1 of this American League Division Series rests with right-handers Justin Verlander and Tyler Glasnow.

In Verlander, the Houston Astros will open this best-of-five series with the quintessential ace on the mound Friday against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) is favored to claim his second American League Cy Young Award and first since 2011, a span that has included three second-place finishes: 2012, 2016 and last season.

This season, Verlander paced the majors in wins, innings (223) and WHIP (0.803). He will make his 26th career postseason appearance and 25th start, having compiled a 13-7 record and 3.19 ERA. Verlander is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA over nine career postseason appearances (eight starts) with Houston and has limited opponents to a .176 average and .540 OPS.

He has thrived on this stage many times previously, but the Rays pose a unique challenge to him and the Astros.

"Yeah, they have a great team," said Verlander, who was 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA over two starts against the Rays this season, bringing his career numbers to 10-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 20 starts. "I think they have great pitching. They have a great bullpen. They can match up well just about with anybody in the lineup.

"And, I mean, their lineup is -- as you saw (Wednesday) night (in the AL wild-card game), really good and scrappy. They can do all the little things they need to get runs across. They can play the long ball. They can play small ball. They can steal bases. They can find ways to squeeze across runs when they need to."

The Rays have won each of the last three season series with Houston 4-3 and are 20-14 against the Astros since 2015, the season Houston initiated its run as one of the best organizations in the majors. Oddly, the Astros own a plus-15 run differential over Tampa Bay since 2017, a testament to the Rays' ability to squeeze out close wins behind their annually stellar pitching.

Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA) will earn the first shot of maintaining that advantage over the Astros in what will be his first career postseason appearance. After missing four months with a forearm strain, Glasnow returned in September and posted a 1.46 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings. While he did not record a decision in any of those appearances, the Rays went 4-0.

He has faced the Astros just once in his career, getting the win by allowing one run on six hits in five innings on March 30.

Armed with a four-seam fastball with an average velocity of 97.6 mph plus a power curveball, Glasnow comes fully equipped with the repertoire to hinder the heavily favored Astros.

"The velocity is real," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "His size (6-foot-8), and he can spin the ball and do a lot of different things. He's got a lot of energy on the mound. He's got a lot of moving parts. But it's the pure stuff that he can throw at every hitter that kind of gets your attention."

For the Astros, there is no comfort opening the ALDS as prohibitive favorites. The same applies to the Rays, who have no intention of resting upon their regular-season success in this series.

"I don't think the head-to-head matchup plays too much of a role from this season," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But I don't anticipate us doing too much differently. We've just got to go out there and have good at-bats when any of these guys happen to make a mistake or lack an executed pitch, we've got to be ready for it."

--Field Level Media

Updated October 4, 2019

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