Yordan Alvarez

Ace Yordan Alvarez hit the third amazing home run of the night for the Houston Astros in the fifth inning, after Justin Verlander had just finished a great start.

Verlander’s wide-eyed reaction to his teammate’s labor was captured on tape. Verlander thought it was “really fantastic” when a major leaguer could inspire awe in the hearts of other major leaguers. “This doesn’t occur very frequently. That was one of those times when everyone said, “My gosh.” What he can do is absolutely mind-boggling.”

The Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Friday night, clinching a postseason berth thanks to home runs from Alvarez (in his first three at-bats), Verlander (in his return from the injured list), and the bullpen.

Yordan Alvarez

With their sixth consecutive victory, the Astros (95-50) clinched a playoff berth, becoming the second team in the MLB to do so behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. With considerably higher stakes, the Astros didn’t do much in the way of a postgame celebration, although they did raise a glass or two in the locker room.

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In his own words, Verlander emphasized the difficulty of making the playoffs and maintaining a high level of performance for an extended period of time. “I can tell you, it’s not simple. I appreciate us being able to pause for a second.”

Alvarez, who entered the game tied for second in the AL with 36 home runs, hit solo bombs in the first, third, and fifth innings off Adrian Martinez. In the seventh inning, he hit a single to finish off his great night and match his career high in hits.

“If you think it’s nice to hit a home run, try hitting three,” Alvarez remarked through a translator. It was “just a really fantastic night.”

The last time he hit three home runs was on August 10, 2019, the day he won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Alvarez joined Glenn Davis and Jeff Bagwell as the only Astros with multiple three-homer performances. There have been only fifteen such games in Houston’s history.

Alvarez hit three home runs, for a combined 1,329 feet: 434, 431, and 464. He became the second player since Statcast began tracking in 2015 to hit three home runs of 400+ feet, joining Nelson Cruz, who did so on July 25, 2019. “Yordan was amazing,” manager Dusty Baker remarked. “I don’t know how many feet those balls traveled together, but boy, that’s a lot of mileage.

After suffering a calf injury on August 28, Verlander (17-3), didn’t miss a beat in his return. His season win streak is now at nine games, and his MLB-leading ERA has dropped to 1.78 thanks to just one walk and nine strikeouts.

Yordan Alvarez

His effort vaulted him into 13th place on the all-time strikeouts list, surpassing Max Scherzer (3,173) to achieve this feat in 17 seasons. Baker said that Verlander would be limited in the number of pitches he could throw, but he wouldn’t say how few. After 79 pitches, he was taken off the mound without allowing a hit.

After getting one out in the second, Verlander clobbered Ramon Laureano. After he walked Seth Brown with two outs in the fourth, he did not give up another baserunner. Finally, he ended his night by sitting down the next four hitters he faced.

In the sixth inning, Phil Maton took over, and Nick Allen promptly knocked a single off of him to end the no-hit bid.

Alvarez drove a ball to dead center with two outs in the first to give his team a 1-0 lead. With two outs remaining in the third, Alvarez hit his second home run of the inning to give his team a 2-0 lead. There was one out in the fifth inning when Jeremy Pena launched his 18th home run to left field.

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Alvarez followed that up by launching the next ball from Martinez into center field, increasing the Astros’ lead to four runs and setting up a frenzy in the Houston dugout and among the fans in the stands. Martinez (4-5) allowed only four home runs, a career-high, in five innings of work while walking three and allowing no other hits.

Manager of the Oakland Athletics Mark Kotsay remarked, “You remove Alvarez out of the lineup and the line is a lot different.” “I mentioned Yordan as a potential Most Valuable Player candidate before the season even began. And tonight, he proved why.” The Athletics, baseball’s weakest team at 52-93, managed only three hits and tied a season-high by striking out 16 times.

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