HOUSTON — Are these Houston Astros the very best sports activities villains ever?
They are making one heck of a case.
If it’s the American League Championship Series, it have to be Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve delivering in large, dramatic spots. On Friday evening at their evil lair Minute Maid Park, Correa and Altuve teamed to energy their membership to a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALCS.
What a dynamic double-play duo, thriving in October for a fifth straight year (and sixth out of seven), making their many detractors eat their phrases as soon as extra. Correa, the approaching free-agent shortstop, delivered the game-winning homer, a solo blast to left discipline off former Met Hansel Robles within the seventh inning, only one body after Altuve tied up the proceedings with a two-run dinger off Tanner Houck that additionally landed within the Crawford Boxes. Altuve additionally drove in an insurance coverage run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that proved helpful when Kiké Hernandez’s second homer of the sport, within the ninth, turned it again right into a one-run contest.
Correa now has hit 18 postseason homers, whereas Altuve can boast of 20, which ties him with newly-minted Hall of Famer Derek Jeter for third place all-time. Yes, sure, the fashionable gamers high these lists due to the additional playoff rounds. Stop shaking your fist.
If Jeter drew a mix of contempt and respect from opposing fan bases, nevertheless, these Astros, embroiled in one of many greatest dishonest scandals in sports activities historical past after they have been caught illegally stealing opponents’ indicators en route to their 2017 World Series title, obtain much more of the previous and scant of the latter.
Man oh man, although, do they get it completed year after year, and with aptitude. When Correa launched his game-winner within the seventh inning to christen Houston’s fifth straight ALCS look, he tossed his bat to the bottom and pointed on the imaginary watch on his left hand earlier than cupping his ear, as is his customized, whereas rounding the bases. As per ESPN, his round-tripper gave him 4 go-ahead homers within the seventh inning or later of a playoff recreation, surpassing Jeter’s Yankees teammate Bernie Williams and the Angels’ Troy Glaus for essentially the most within the sport’s historical past.
As a logo of each modern-day baseball and the frayed state of each golf equipment’ pitching staffs, the Astros utilized eight pitchers to win and the Red Sox eight to lose on this Yankees nightmare matchup. Game 1 starters Chris Sale of the Bosox and Framber Valdez of the Astros every lasted 2 ²/₃ innings earlier than getting the hook. Surely this was not what Eliot Asinof had in thoughts when he wrote the e-book “Eight Men Out.”
While the Astros struck first, leaping out to a 1-0 lead when Yordan Alvarez’s sacrifice fly plated Altuve, Sale danced easily with hazard, permitting seven base runners throughout his transient stint and, with some third-inning help from former Yankee Adam Ottavino, simply the one run. Houston’s Valdez gave up a three-spot within the third, with Hernandez crushing his first homer, Altuve letting a J.D. Martinez grounder sizzle by means of his legs to rating Xander Bogaerts and Hunter Renfroe doubling residence Rafael Devers, earlier than Yimi Garcia struck out Christian Arroyo to keep away from additional bother.
Then within the sixth, with Houck on the hill for the Red Sox, Chas McCormick stroked a one-out single to heart discipline, off Arroyo’s glove at second base, and one out later, Altuve pulverized a Houck slider into the Crawford Boxes to knot the sport at 3-3, placing the Astros again in management and establishing Correa for an additional second for the ages.