Astros, Rays cruise to MLB playoff wins

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Lance McCullers Jr. carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning and Jake Meyers contributed two hits as the Houston Astros crushed the Chicago White Sox 6-1 in game one of the American League Division Series.

Liam Hendriks, the only Australian playing in Major League Baseball's postseason, did not pitch for Chicago.

Yordan Alvarez homered, drove in two runs and scored twice at home for the Astros, who are two wins away in the best-of-five series from a fifth consecutive trip to the AL Championship Series.

The AL West champs finished the regular season with 95 wins, two more than the AL Central-winning White Sox.

Hendriks was named the American League's relief pitcher of the month earlier this week, the second time this season he has received the honour.

But there was no use for the closer in game one, given the White Sox were so far behind.

In Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 5-0 in game one of their AL Division Series.

Tampa's Randy Arozarena became the first player in postseason history to record a home run and a steal of home in the same game.

"I just focus a little bit more," Cuban Arozarena said through an interpreter in his post-game interview with FS1.

"I'm always ready, regardless if I'm starting the game or if I'm not. I come out here ready to work and I sacrifice everything to be ready to go. Luckily it's happening in October when it means it's closer to the World Series."

It was the Rays' first playoff game since losing last year's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

The Red Sox advanced to the ALDS after a 6-2 win over the New York Yankees in the AL wildcard game on Tuesday.

Kyle Schwarber, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Arroyo all had two-hit games for Boston.

"We got traffic out there and we just didn't cash in," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

"We're good. I loved the at-bats today. We put some pressure on them, they made some plays, we hit some balls hard ... The bullpen's rested, so we should be OK."

Game two of the best-of-five series is at the same venue on Friday night.

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