Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez power Astros
Jose Altuve hit 24th career postseason homer
Altuve, who couldn’t tally a home run, nor RBI in last year’s postseason, needed only one pitch to give the Astros the lead.
Altuve turned on a 92-mph fastball by Bailey Ober and demolished it for a leadoff blast, setting the tone for the Astros’ 6-4 victory over the Twins in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. He deposited into the Crawford Boxes behind left field for his 24th career postseason homer.
Jose Altuve in elite company
The first-inning home run brought Altuve five home runs shy of the postseason record set by former Cleveland and Boston star Manny Ramirez. The blast was Altuve’s eighth career postseason home run in the first inning, which is the most in baseball history. Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is second on that list with six first-inning postseason homers in his career.
Altuve’s home run was what the Astros needed after struggling to score runs and win at home during the regular season. The defending World Series champions won the AL West title despite a 39-42 record at home in the regular season.
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“That really got the fans into it right away,” Dusty Baker said. “There was a lot of electricity in the building. And after that things caught fire quickly.”
Alvarez added to the assault against the Twins. He continued where he left off from last year’s home run frenzy. Alvarez, who hit three home runs in the 2022 postseason, essentially clinched the Astros their second World Series title last year with his blast in Game 6 against the Phillies.
Climbing all-time Cuban postseason home run list
The 2019 Rookie of the Year notched his eighth postseason home run, which has him tied with Yuli Gurriel for second most all-time by a Cuban player. He trails only Rays slugger Randy Arozarea (11).
Arozarena and his Rays were eliminated from the playoffs, so Alvarez has an opportunity to draw level with his countryman.
“You know, very happy,” Alvarez said. “Very happy to be on that list of Cuban players that have accomplished things like that in the playoffs.”
Alvarez launched a 379-foot, two-run home run blast to the second deck to increase the Astros lead to three. The Twins rallied with back-to-back home runs by Jorge Polanco and Royce Lewis to cut the Astros’ lead to one.
Alvarez quickly responded by smashing a ball off the foul pole to give the Astros a two-run cushion.
The 2021 ALCS MVP’s postseason production comes as no surprise. He’s recorded 31 RBIs in 167 postseason at-bats. He’s a clutch hitter no matter who is on the mound.
“I always think something might happen with Yordan,” Baker said. “He hits lefties equally as righties. But that’s a move the manager had to make. You have to bring a lefty for Yordan even though everyone knows he hits them pretty good.”
The home runs by Altuve and Alvarez helped the Astros win their seventh consecutive Game 1. If the Astros can continue to change their regular season fortunes at home in Game 2 Sunday, they can find their way closer to their seventh consecutive ALCS appearance in the best-of-five Division Series, which will shift to Minnesota for Game 3 on Monday.
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