Tim Bradbury/Getty ImagesThe Houston Astros now hold home-field advantage in the ALCS.The Astros stole Game 1 on the road Kyle Freeland Jersey , dominating the Boston Red Sox 7-2 behind Justin Verlander's six innings of two-run ball. George Springer was excellent, knocking in two runs and getting on base three times, while Carlos Correa's RBI single in the top of the sixth was the game-winning hit.The Astros added four insurance runs in the top of the ninth on Josh Reddick's solo home run and Yuli Gurriel's three-run shot.Unlike Verlander, Red Sox starter Chris Sale struggled, throwing 86 pitches in four innings while giving up two runs, four walks and a hit. It was a poor performance from Boston's ace, forcing manager Alex Cora was later ejected in the bottom of the fifth for arguing balls and strikes turn to his bullpen early.It was the Astros bullpen that locked down the contest, however, pitching three scoreless innings to close Game 1.Chris Sale's Struggles Could Have Ripple Effect Throughout SeriesSale did not have his best stuff Saturday night, and it was apparent early:Bryan Hoch BryanHochChris Sale doesnt have it tonight. Closing in on 50 pitches in the second inning as the Astros jump out front, 2-0, as George Springer raps one past Eduardo Nunez at third base.Zachary quot;Doomquot; Rymer zachrymerYeah, Chris Sale doesnt have it tonight.Zachary quot;Doomquot; Rymer zachrymerIts not just the ball/strike disparity. Too many of Chris Sales pitches arent even close to being good.The fact that he got through four innings while only allowing two runs made it seem like the Red Sox dodged a bullet. But Boston had to turn to its bullpen for the next five innings in a game it likely expected its ace to go deep. That could be a concern for the rest of the series, especially if Boston's other starters struggle.The last thing the Red Sox want is a taxed bullpen while facing Houston's dangerous lineup.Sale's struggles mean David Price must come up big in Game 2 on Sunday night. That has not been Price's postseason calling card, however. In 18 appearances (10 starts), Price is 2-9 with a 5.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 68 strikeouts across 75 innings.More concerning is the fact that Price only lasted 1.2 frames in his ALDS Game 2 loss against the New York Yankees, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks. And it's not as though the Red Sox can let him weather any storms, as opposing starterGerrit Cole is coming off an excellent season and is likely to make life difficult for the Red Sox bats.If Price struggles early http://www.rockiesfanproshop.com/authentic-chad-bettis-jersey , he'll almost assuredly be given a quick hook. And that would mean another long night for the bullpen.Should the Red Sox go down 2-0 in this series while facing a trip to Houston, they'd be in trouble. It wouldn't be fair to call the matchup over鈥攖he Red Sox won 108 games, after all, and boast baseball's scariest lineup. They could dig out of that hole.But it's not a hole they'd choose, especially considering the Astros seem to have Sale's number.Houston's beaten Sale three times in the past two postseasons, and the Boston ace hasn't gotten past the fifth inning in any of those starts, giving up a total of 11 runs in the three losses.Add it all up, and Sale's Game 1 effort does not bode well for the Red Sox. Houston's Bullpen Remains Its Biggest ALCS AdvantageHouston's starting rotation often gets most of the attention when the team's pitching is mentioned, and for good reason: The trio of Verlander, Cole andDallas Keuchel is superb. Verlander, in particular, has been historically good in the postseason.Stats By STATS StatsBySTATSThe astros Justin Verlander has now allowed a total of 9 hits over his last 4 postseason starts. That ties the fewest hits ever allowed over a span of 4 postseason starts; the other to do it was Don Larsen from 1955-57 - a stretch that included his perfect game. #NeverSettleBut Saturday night, Houston's bullpen was dominant, proving it remains the team's major advantage over Boston.During the regular season, Houston led baseball in bullpen ERA. In 12.2 innings of postseason ball, they've given up one run. The Red Sox managed just one hit against Ryan Pressly, Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh on Saturday night.Boston, meanwhile, was forced to cycle through five relievers over five innings Ryan McMahon Jersey , and that group gave up five runs, including the two ninth-inning dingers.Shea Serrano SheaSerranothe 9th inning of this astros game 3YlRj4KlWXThis series has been billed as the matchup of the unstoppable force (Boston's lineup) against the immovable object (Houston's pitching staff). But Boston has solid options in the starting rotation, even if Sale struggled on Saturday night, and the Astros have dangerous bats. The "unstoppable force vs. the immovable object" storyline is a bit reductive.Look more closely, and it's clear the bullpens could decide this series. In that regard, the Astros appear to have the advantage.Red Sox NeedMookie Betts to Get HotMookie Betts, the front-runner to win the AL MVP, only hit .188 against the New York Yankees in the ALDS. No matter. The rest of the Red Sox offense showed up, pushing 27 runs across the board in four games.But Betts had a limited impact once again Saturday night, managing just one hit without any runs scored or knocked in. And against Houston's superior pitching staff, the rest of the Red Sox weren't up to the task either, only posting three hits.In fact, Boston's two runs came off a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch by Verlander. It was an ugly night for the Red Sox at the plate.And it's been an ugly postseason for Betts, who hit .346 with 32 homers, 80 RBI, 129 runs and 30 stolen bases during the regular season. He was a major factor in every conceivable way for the Red Sox. He's been much less so in the postseason.For his career, Betts is hitting .239 with no homers, two RBI and six runs scored in 46 postseason at-bats over the past three years (12 games). His October struggles are a worry, especially given Boston's issues with solving Houston's pitchers Saturday night.The Astros' stars B.J. Upton Jersey , meanwhile, mostly factored into the Game 1 result. In a series between teams this talented, the Red Sox have to get something from their best player. If Betts doesn't work his way out of this October slump, his team is in trouble. MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — If Joe Mauer is ready to retire, he’s going out on a high note.Mauer reached base three times and Kyle Gibson capped a season of improvement with six quality innings in the Minnesota Twins‘ 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.A free agent after the season, Mauer has said he’ll contemplate retirement after 15 years in Minnesota. But the former MVP and seven-time All-Star is showing he can still swing the bat with a strong September.He had two hits and scored twice Saturday. Mauer, who entered the day with a major league-leading .410 average with runners in scoring position, drove in a run with a single as part of a six-run second inning. He is hitting .365 with eight RBIs in his last 16 games.“It doesn’t surprise me,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’re all pulling for him to have a good finish to this year. He’s putting together a nice homestand. I think he’s really relishing just the response and the fans. You soak it in, even if you’re contemplating what lies ahead, just to kind of pause and take pictures of each day you’re playing the game.”Jorge Polanco added three hits and Jake Cave drove in three runs for Minnesota, which tied a season high with its fifth straight win.Gibson (10-13) allowed one run on three hits and three walks to lower his ERA to 3.62. He had a 5.07 ERA each of the past two seasons, but continued the growth he showed at the end of last season after returning from the minors.“Overall, it was just the mentality I was able to keep,” Gibson said. “Kind of the beauty of having your priorities straight and having a good, confident mentality is one start, whether it’s good or bad, isn’t going to take you too high or too low.”Chicago starter Carlos Rodon (6-8) was knocked out six batters into the second inning without retiring an out. He surrendered eight runs on six hits and four walks in his 21st start of the season after returning from shoulder surgery.“You know, I had some clarity coming back this year and pitching http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey ,” Rodon said. “Ate some innings and had some fun even though this last month hasn’t gone the way I’d like, but it was good. It was good to be back.”Rodon gave up 14 runs in 3 1/3 innings in his final two starts.“It wasn’t the way I’m sure he wanted it to finish and we didn’t either, but he’s given us a nice recovered season,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s made progress. He’s going to go into the end here healthy and being able to concentrate on getting himself ready for the coming season.”Chicago lost for the 10th time in 13 games and is 62-99. A loss Sunday would be the White Sox’s first 100-loss season since losing 106 games in 1970.AN UNWANTED RECORDChicago struck out nine times to set a major league record for a team in a season. White Sox batters have struck out 1,579 times, breaking the mark of 1,571 set by the Milwaukee Brewers last season.Second baseman Yoan Moncado struck out for the 216th time, the highest total in the majors this season and the fourth-most in a single season in history.Moncado is three strikeouts behind Chris Davis, who had 219 in 2016. The record is held by Mark Reynolds, who struck out 223 times in 2009.TRAINER’S ROOMWhite Sox: C Omar Narvaez left the game in the third inning with low back stiffness. He was replaced by Kevan Smith. . SS Tim Anderson left the game in the fourth inning. Renteria said he’s been dealing with knee soreness and the cold weather caused the knee to stiffen. Renteria said he’ll see how Anderson feels before Sunday’s game to know whether he’ll play in the finale. Jose Rondon took Anderson’s place and twisted his ankle on a play at first base in the ninth but stayed in the game.Twins: Mitch Garver was out of the lineup a day after getting four hits and six RBIs because Molitor wanted to go with Tyler Austin and Mauer at first base and designated hitter, respectively. Garver recently returned from a concussion and won’t be used as a catcher again this season.UP NEXTMinnesota will end the season with rookie right-hander Zack Littell (0-2, 6.61 ERA) starting Sunday, with Chicago going with right-hander Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.06). It will be Littell’s eighth major league appearance and second start. His previous start was against the White Sox in his debut on June 5 when he gave up six runs in three innings. Covey is 0-6 with a 6.08 ERA over his last eight starts but has 12 scoreless innings over his past two starts.