White Sox fall 6-1 to McCullers, three Astros relievers; Lynn allows five runs in 3 2/3 innings
HOUSTON — White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn has been one of baseball’s top pitchers the last two seasons.
But not against the Astros.
Not this season, not last year and certainly not Thursday, when Lynn was peppered for five runs in 3 2/3 innings in a mostly flat 6-1 Sox loss in Game 1 of a long-awaited American League Division Series. The best of five series shifts to Friday (1:07 p.m), with Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito opposing Astros lefty Framber Valdez.
Lynn gave up five runs on six hits and two walks and was pulled by manager Tony La Russa with two outs in the fourth in a game that looked, with Astros righty Lance McCullers in command allowing one hit in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, all but over. The 33-year-old Lynn has allowed 34 runs in 32 2/3 innings over his last six starts against the Astros, good for a 9.37 ERA and 0-6 record.
The Astros’ second run scored in the third inning when Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada threw late to catcher Yasmani Grandal trying to get Jose Altuve for the second out. Moncada made a good stop on Alex Bregman’s ground ball to his left, but had a slim chance of getting Altuve after spinning around to make the throw.
Altuve, the Astros leadoff man who led off the inning with a walk, had advanced to third when Grandal couldn’t keep Lynn’s bounced wild pitch in front of him. After Altuve scored, Yordan Alvarez banged a belt-high fastball doubled off the left center field wall, scoring Bregman to make it 3-0.
Michael Brantley’s two-run single in the fourth knocked out Lynn in favor of Reynaldo Lopez, who gave up a home run to Alvarez in the fifth.
Lynn seemed amped up, touching 97 mph to strike out Yuli Gurriel in the second, but he needed 76 pitches, 46 for strikes, to record 11 outs.
The Sox lineup, held to seven singles, was not amped. Designated hitter Jose Abreu’s two-out single against Kendall Graveman in the eighth scored Tim Anderson with a run that offered a glimpse of hope bringing Grandal up with two on. But Grandal (0-for-4, four left on base) flied out to medium deep center to end one of the only Sox threats.
Abreu’s status was in doubt until he took batting practice. He did not travel to Houston with the team Tuesday because of flu-like symptoms not related to Covid-19.