Alvarez has 3 HRs, Astros down A’s to clinch playoff berth

HOUSTON (AP) — Ace Justin Verlander had simply wrapped up one other robust begin and was within the dugout within the fifth inning when Yordan Alvarez launched his third monster dwelling run of the night time for the Houston Astros.

The cameras panned to Verlander, eyes broad as he admired his teammate’s handiwork.

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“It’s fairly cool when a significant league participant could make different main league gamers be in awe,” Verlander mentioned. “It’s not one thing that occurs all too usually. And that was form of a type of moments the place all people is rather like: ‘My goodness.’ It’s simply unbelievable what he’s capable of do.”

Alvarez homered in his first three at-bats, Verlander threw 5 hitless innings in his return from the injured record and the Astros clinched a postseason berth with a 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night time.

The Astros (95-50) received their sixth straight sport to hitch the Los Angeles Dodgers as the primary two groups to safe playoff spots, reaching their sixth straight postseason.

There was no massive celebration for this group with a lot greater targets, however the Astros did share a quiet toast within the clubhouse postgame.

“You’ve received to maintain in perspective … how arduous it’s to get to the playoffs and to remain on high like this for some time,” Verlander mentioned. “It’s not straightforward. So I’m glad we have been capable of take a second.”

Alvarez, tied for second within the AL with a career-high 36 dwelling runs, had solo photographs off Adrián Martínez within the first, third and fifth innings. He capped his massive night time with a single within the seventh to tie his profession excessive with 4 hits.

“Hitting one dwelling run feels nice, think about hitting three,” Alvarez mentioned in Spanish by means of a translator. “Only a very particular night time.”

It’s his second three-homer sport and first since Aug. 10, 2019, a season when he received AL Rookie of the 12 months. There have been solely 15 three-homer video games in Houston historical past and Alvarez joined Glenn Davis and Jeff Bagwell as the one Astros to have multiple.

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Alvarez’s homers totaled 1,329 ft— 434, 431 and 464. He joined Nelson Cruz on July 25, 2019, as the one gamers with three 400-plus foot homers in a sport since Statcast began monitoring in 2015.

“Yordan was unbelievable,” supervisor Dusty Baker mentioned. “These balls he hit, I don’t know what the mixed ft have been, however boy that’s a variety of mileage.”

Verlander (17-3) didn’t miss a beat in his return after injuring a calf on Aug. 28. He walked one and struck out 9 to increase his season-long successful streak to 9 video games and decrease his MLB-leading ERA to 1.78.

His efficiency moved him previous Max Scherzer (3,173) for thirteenth on the profession strikeout record with 3,176 in 17 seasons.

Supervisor Dusty Baker mentioned Verlander can be on a pitch-count however wouldn’t reveal what his restrict was. He was lifted with out giving up a success after throwing 79 pitches.

Verlander plunked Ramon Laureano with one out within the second. He didn’t permit one other baserunner till strolling Seth Brown with two outs within the fourth. He then sat down the subsequent 4 batters he confronted to finish his night time.

Phil Maton took over for the sixth and Nick Allen singled on his first pitch to interrupt up the no-hit bid.

There have been two outs within the first when Alvarez linked on a shot to straightaway heart discipline to make it 1-0.

Alvarez’s second homer got here with two outs within the third to increase the result in 2-0.

Jeremy Peña hit his 18th homer to left discipline with one out within the fifth. The Astros went back-to-back when Alvarez despatched the subsequent pitch from Martinez into heart discipline to increase the result in 4-0 and ship Houston’s dugout and the group right into a frenzy.

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Martínez (4-5) pitched 5 innings, strolling three and the one hits he allowed have been the 4 homers, which have been a career-high.

“You’re taking Alvarez out of the lineup and the road’s loads completely different,” Oakland supervisor Mark Kotsay mentioned. “Yordan is a man that I referred to earlier than the season began as a doable MVP candidate. And and he confirmed why tonight.”

The Athletics, who’ve baseball’s worst document at 52-93, managed simply three singles and tied a season excessive by placing out 16 instances.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: LHP Sam Moll was positioned on the 15-day IL with a strained left shoulder and LHP Jared Koenig was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Astros: RHP Seth Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land to make room for Verlander. … RHP Josh James was recalled from his rehabilitation project due to forearm discomfort.

UP NEXT

RHP José Urquidy (13-6, 3.75 ERA) opposes LHP Cole Irvin (8-11, 3.73) on Saturday night time.

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Extra AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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