MLB

MLB playoffs 2021: Astros draw first blood against Red Sox in ALCS

By Sports Desk October 15, 2021

Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve lifted the Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Correa and Altuve homered as the rallying Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday.

The Red Sox, who stunned the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series (ALDS), led 3-1 early on the road – Kike Hernandez the architect with a solo shot in the third inning.

But the Astros wiped out the deficit behind Altuve and 6.1 scoreless innings from their bullpen.

Altuve levelled the game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason homer as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

The Astros star also became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs. Altuve has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th postseason homer – tied for seventh-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th playoff RBI, the most among active players.

It saw Correa celebrate his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

Hernandez – the fourth player to have multiple four-plus hit games in the same postseason, after Albert Pujols (2011), Robin Yount (1982) and George Brett (1985), homered again for the Red Sox in the ninth but it was not enough to prevent the Astros from winning.

Game 2 is back at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

 

Dodgers at Braves

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers will open their National League Championship Series (NLCS) at the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

Related items

  • Inter Miami v Columbus Crew: Black & Gold aim for further road joy against gutsy Herons Inter Miami v Columbus Crew: Black & Gold aim for further road joy against gutsy Herons

    Inter Miami are sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference table but face a challenge on Thursday when Columbus Crew visit for an MLS clash at Chase Stadium.

    The Herons are two points clear at the summit of the East standings after snatching a 2-1 triumph over Philadelphia Union last time out.

    Yet Wilfried Nancy's Crew have triumphed in their last four road games in the league, battling to a 3-2 victory over New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

    "It's a massive run and just shows how good we are mentally" Mohamed Farsi said of the streak.

    "I think we have more away wins right now than last year all season. I think so or the same, so I'm happy for that."

    Farsi has become a central figure for Columbus and scored the go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute against the Pigeons, much to the delight of head coach Nancy.

    "The idea for Mo is to be more consistent because he brings a lot of energy to the team," Nancy said.

    "He wants also to show himself that he's a better player than last year when we had the same deal here. Good for him.

    "Now, he knows that he has to work on certain things, but I'm happy for him. He's doing a good job."

    Despite missing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Matis Rojas – all of whom are on Copa America duty – the nine-man Herons overcame the Union thanks to Leo Afonso's last-gasp strike.

    "It is clear that in 10 times, nine of these games we would end up losing," Miami head coach Gerardo Martino said.

    "Absolutely all the credit belongs to them. That has to do with the effort, with the character, with the guts that the boys had."

    Afonso echoed his coach's sentiment ahead of another crunch match-up.

    "It's difficult when you're missing the best players in history in their positions," he said. "But we got to keep working, and we got to try our best."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Inter Miami – Jordi Alba

    With stars Messi and Suarez on international duty, Jordi Alba will be expected to step up once more for the Herons.

    The former Barcelona full-back has two goals this year in MLS, as well as five assists – that creative tally is only bettered by Messi (13) and Julian Gressel (six) among Miami team-mates.

    Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

    Diego Rossi remains an integral figure in attack for the Crew, whose Javier Hernandez (five goals) has only scored more than the forward's four in 10 MLS games this year.

    With other Uruguayan colleagues at the Copa, Rossi will hope to extend his fine scoring form here.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    Miami may be leading the way in the East but a draw appears the most likely outcome at Chase Stadium.

    The Herons have never lost a home match against the Crew (W2 D1), though Columbus did earn their first away point against David Beckham's Miami-based side on the last visit to Fort Lauderdale, a 2-2 draw in July 2023.

    Martino will hope to continue a strong run of form with another victory, however.

    Miami have won eight of their last 11 regular-season matches (D2 L1) following a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Saturday. Since that run began in mid-April, Martino's side have managed 26 points and scored 28 goals – both league-leading figures.

    Yet Columbus should not be ruled out for a win either.

    The Crew have won four straight regular-season away matches for the second time in club history after a four-match run in August-September 2015.

    Columbus have lost only one of their last 11 regular-season road matches, dating back to last September (W5 D5), and that streak could continue here.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Inter Miami win – 37.4%

    Columbus Crew win – 36.3%

    Draw – 26.4%

  • Mbappe injury leaves Deschamps concerned after France's Euro 2024 triumph Mbappe injury leaves Deschamps concerned after France's Euro 2024 triumph

    Kylian Mbappe suffering a late head injury marred France's Euro 2024 victory over Austria as Didier Deschamps was left concerned about the Les Bleus star.

    The Real Madrid-bound attacker sustained a blow to his nose after an aerial challenge with Austria's Kevin Danso before Mbappe was withdrawn on Monday.

    France held on for a 1-0 victory in Dusseldorf to move level with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, but Deschamps will have to sweat over Mbappe's fitness before facing Ronald Koeman's men on Friday.

    "[His] nose is not good at all," the France head coach, who hit 100 wins in charge of his country with the victory over Ralf Rangnick's side, told reporters.

    "Even if it's just the nose, it's the big negative point for us tonight."

    Mbappe missed a gilt-edged opportunity in the second half as his wait for a European Championship goal continued.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain man remains without a goal from a total of 18 shots in the tournament, while he has registered 12 strikes from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

    Mbappe played the cross in for Max Wober's decisive first-half own-goal, however, as the centre-back's inadvertent error proved the difference in the pair's tournament opener.

    France are the first European side at major tournaments (World Cup/Euros) to benefit from 10 own-goals, four more than any other side – Germany are the next best on six.

    Deschamps was still satisfied with Les Bleus' work, though acknowledged their failure in front of goal.

    "Happy with what the players did even if we missed opportunities to double the tally," he added. "It was not perfect but we were solid.

    "We could have been more efficient offensively but it's good to start with a win.

    "There's quality and talent but being solid and working together is also important. We're not going to be over-confident, but it's a good start."

    N'Golo Kante was named as the Player of the Match after his efficient display in midfield, having only returned to the international setup for this tournament after a two-year absence.

    No France player made more successful tackles than Kante's two (level with Jules Kounde), while the midfielder's pair of interceptions marked the most for Les Bleus.

    "Everything was not perfect but we have the result we wanted, this is a good start," Kante said. "There are solid foundations, we have to be more efficient.

    "It makes me happy to be back. Things have changed, makes it feels good to get back into this jersey."

    The defeat ended a run of seven games without a loss for Austria in all competitions (W6 D1), while it was only their second reverse in their last 17 matches (W12 D3).

    Yet former Manchester United boss Rangnick refused to point the blame at any of Austria's players.

    "We are all very disappointed... we allowed France to go ahead, they didn't shoot their goal, it was an unlucky own goal by us," Rangnick said.

    "I think no one can accuse the team of not being engaged enough, not running enough. They gave their everything.

    "They didn't always make the right decisions with the ball. But it isn't easy, the French were aggressive, and played compactly and that wasn't a surprise."

  • Austria 0-1 France: Les Bleus triumph in Euro 2024 opener after Wober own-goal Austria 0-1 France: Les Bleus triumph in Euro 2024 opener after Wober own-goal

    France started their quest for Euro 2024 glory with a narrow 1-0 victory over Austria after Max Wober's first-half own-goal proved decisive in Dusseldorf.

    The two-time European Championship winners had to wait until the 38th minute for their breakthrough, with Wober turning Kylian Mbappe's cross into his own net on Monday.

    Les Bleus held on in the second half to earn Didier Deschamps his 100th win in charge of France, though there was concern as Mbappe received lengthy treatment for a head injury late on before being withdrawn.

    Deschamps will hope Mbappe is passed fit after that issue as France prepare for Friday's clash with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, who share top spot in the pool after overcoming Poland 2-1 on Sunday.

    Deschamps' men settled into their seamless groove early on, with Mbappe racing clear of the Austria defence before seeing his effort repelled by the strong palm of Patrick Pentz.

    Yet for all of France's dominance in possession, Austria remained resolute in defence and almost struck first against the run of play 10 minutes before the interval.

    Christoph Baumgartner found himself unmarked inside the France box after Marcel Sabitzer's deft knockdown, but was unable to find a way beyond the onrushing Mike Maignan when rushing a glorious chance.

    Just two minutes later, Deschamps' deadly attack showed their ruthless nature as Mbappe chopped inside before delivering towards the near post, where Wober inadvertently headed past the helpless Pentz.

    Mbappe should have doubled France's lead after the interval but somehow fired wide when one-on-one with Pentz, leaving the Real Madrid-bound forward still waiting for a first European Championship goal.

    Les Bleus remained the most likely to find a decisive second goal but Theo Hernandez's teasing delivery just evaded Antoine Greizmann before Marcus Thuram also went close.

    Yet the battling victory was marred by the injury to Mbappe, who was forced off in the final minute of normal time after suffering a concerning blow to his nose when challenging for an aerial duel with Kevin Danso.

    Mbappe's wait for maiden Euro goal goes on

    Mbappe produced an influential display but was far from his clinical best for Les Bleus as his first goal at this tournament continues to elude him. 

    The former Paris Saint-Germain attacker has now failed to convert any of his last 17 shots at the competition, in stark contrast to the 12 goals he has managed from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

    His one-on-one opportunity in the second half had an expected goals tally (xG) of 0.6, second only behind Griezmann's opportunity (0.75 xG) in the area 11 minutes later. 

    Aside from Mbappe, France were wasteful in the final third as a collective, registering just three shots on target in the contest from 14 attempts – underperforming their xG by 1.03. 

    Austria down, but certainly not out

    Ralf Rangnick's team can be proud of their defensive display against France's star-studded attacking line, with their fighting efforts seeing them make the most tackles (27) of any side at the tournament so far. 

    However, their struggles against Les Bleus continued as Austria have now won just one of their last 11 meetings against France in all competitions, with that sole victory coming in 2008. 

    Austria will still hope to replicate their last-16 run at Euro 2020, their best-ever finish in the competition, and face Poland in Berlin on Friday before concluding their group campaign against the Netherlands.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.