Yordan Alvarez gives parents postseason magic
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez hits walk-off, three-run home run to stun Mariners
HOUSTON – As Yordan Alvarez crushed a line drive toward the right field wall Tuesday evening, the Astros slugger’s parents roared out of their seats with the rest of the Minute Maid Park crowd.
Tears rolling down her cheeks, Marilyn Cardogan Reyes jumped into her husband Agustin Eduardo Alvarez’s arms. They hugged and cried and roared. The Alvarezes were overcome with pride, joy and Houston’s affection for their oldest boy.
“We were jumping and cheering too,” Cardogan Reyes said in Spanish after Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run, walk-off home run to beat the Mariners 8-7 in Game 1 of the Division Series. “Proud. At the zero hour, we won the game.”
Yordan Alvarez makes history
Considering he was the American League Championship Series MVP last year, Yordan Alvarez has had bigger postseason moments. Game 1 against the Mariners was more special for the Cuban slugger, though, because his entire family was finally there to watch a playoff game in person.
His parents could only watch his previous postseason games on television in the Dominican Republic, where they settled after defecting from Cuba together in 2017.
“We suffered that (absence) day to day,” Agustin Alvarez said in Spanish. “We found comfort and kept a lot of faith because we communicated daily.
“But the anxiety of not being able to be with him, we knew that once we got here that would be something that would clear his mind. Because with his talent, and God’s help, he can do many more things.”
With the help of Astros owner Jim Crane and a diligent immigration lawyer, the Alvarezes finally secured visas to visit Yordan in the United States in late August.
They watched the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year play in the majors in person for the first time on Aug. 23. Seven weeks later, they got a taste of postseason baseball at Minute Maid Park.
Yordan prepared them on the eve of Game 1 by telling them to expect a lot of “buya” or hoopla. The Mariners tried to ruin the Astros’ party by jumping on AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander early to take a 4-0 lead in the second inning.
Alvarez cut the deficit in half with a two-run double off the left-field wall, bringing Minute Maid Park to life. The Alvarezes immediately felt Houston’s love for Yordan Alvarez.
“It’s something that’s very distinct from anything,” Agustin Alvarez said of the atmosphere in Game 1. “It’s phenomenal, phenomenal, and more in the way that the people, the public in Houston, are so supportive of this team.
“They treat them like their own sons. We feel part of the family too. It’s marvelous. I’m happy, happy.”
Alex Bregman blast proves crucial
Seattle added two runs in the top of the fourth. Fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth for the Astros. The Mariners added a run in the seventh to go ahead 7-3. Alex Bregman cut the deficit to 7-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
The Astros took care of the rest in the ninth. Reliever Paul Sewald hit pinch-hitter David Hensley with a pitch with one out in the inning. After Jose Altuve struck out, rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña singled to center.
Seattle manager Scott Servais then brought in lefthander Robbie Ray to face the lefthanded Alvarez. In the family section, Agustin was eager to see how Yordan would react to Ray’s first pitch.
Alvarez almost barrelled Ray’s first offering, a 94-mph sinker. He fouled it back, but the swing gave Agustin Alvarez confidence.
“He was very concentrated, was calm and very aggressive at the same time,” Agustin Alvarez said of his son. “The first pitch they made in the zone, he took a good swing.
“I said, ‘OK, we’re good.’ … You cannot predict anything, but when you see the swing is good, the percentage of things going positively is big.”
The results were definitely positive. Yordan Alvarez drove Ray’s subsequent 93-mph sinker an estimated 438 feet for the walk-off, three-run homer. The shot was the first MLB postseason walk-off home run in history for a team trailing by multiple runs.
Joining Kirk Gibson
Moreover, it was only the second postseason walk-off homer by a team down to its last out. Kirk Gibson hit the first with his famous walk-off home run for the Dodgers off Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and the Oakland A’s in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“With them being here for the first time watching the playoffs, and for me to decide a game like that in my first playoff game in front of them, it’s very special,” Yordan Alvarez said. “I think that’s what makes this one of the best days in my life.”
The day was even more special, they said, because Yonder Alvarez celebrated his 15th birthday Tuesday.
A wonderful day became a classic with one powerful swing in the ninth.
Yordan Alvarez triumphantly tossed his bat emphatically toward the home dugout after his teammates sprinted out of the dugout while the sellout crowd went crazy. Alvarez’s parents and his Yonder received congratulations from fans nearby as they celebrated in the stands.
They were easy to identify, especially because Agustin looks like his son. The trio also wore matching white T-shirts that read “Go Astros.” Yordan’s face served as the “o” in Go on the shirts.
“Happy, proud, I don’t have the words,” Cadogan Reyes said. “I’m very happy and proud of the son that I have.”
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