Verlander cools off Red Sox 7-2 in Game 1 of ALCS

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora argues a strike three call with umpire Joe West during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Saturday Oct. 13 2018 in Boston. (AP

Red Sox catcher plunks umpire Joe West with errant throw to second

Game 2 is Sunday night in Boston, when left-hander David Price pitches for the Red Sox opposite Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole. The arguing was merited, if only because the costly called strike against Andrew Benintendi came with runners on second and third base and represented one of the Sox few scoring chances in the game. That call prompted lots of anger from Benintendi and a full-blown mid-inning outburst from Cora, who was ejected for letting home plate umpire James Hoye know just how he felt about his strike zone.

Running away with this one late in the game will only add to their swagger in the short turnaround before Sunday night's Game 2 and their favoured status has only been enhanced by the result of Game 1. After Verlander exited with a pitch count at 90, the ultra-deep Houston bullpen took over with Ryan Pressly tossing a scoreless seventh followed by Lance McCullers Jr. dealing up a one-two-three eighth.

Boston scored two runs in the bottom of the first, but Houston stormed back to tie the game on a two-run double by George Springer. Three relievers kept the 'Stros at bay but luck ran out in the ninth inning when Brandon Workman was roughed up for two home runs that sent the crowd rushing to the exits.

Our promised Chris Sale-Justin Verlander duel fizzled out right from the start. And I did. It's kind of like embarrassing that it happens in the playoffs.

Verlander cruised through the first four innings, throwing just 48 pitches and retiring 10 straight at one point while holding a 2-0 lead. Much like Price, though, he'll be tested by the opposition, as the Red Sox this season led the AL in OPS versus right-handed pitchers.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora argues a strike three call with umpire Joe West during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Saturday Oct. 13 2018 in Boston

"We'll see tomorrow", Boston catcher Sandy Leon said. "They pitched their way out of it, but we didn't hit our way into it".

Judged exclusively by the early innings of the boxscore from Saturday's opener of the best-of-seven ALCS, the game unfolded pretty much as billed. Sale gave up two runs, one hit, four walks and a hit batter, and his average fastball velocity of 92 miles per hour was down 3 miles per hour from the Division Series.

Price, 16-7 in this year's regular season, has two postseason wins in relief in his career.

We can't look at one particular moment that decided a 7-2 game but the final score undersells how close Game 1 was - or at least should have been.

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