Jose Altuve Homers in Bottom of Ninth Inning to Lead Houston Astros to 8-7 Win Over New York Yankees

Jose Altuve is a miracle worker…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman hit a three-run homer to cap a startling six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, getting his shirt yanked off in a frenzied celebration and lifting his Houston Astros team over the New York Yankees 8-7.

Jose Altuve

“It was a miracle,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker.

The Astros had been shut out by the Yankees the previous two games, highlighted by ace Gerrit Cole‘s three-hitter in a 1-0 win on Saturday night.

But in a series where the teams took turns trolling each other after lingering ill will over the years — including Yankees star Aaron Judge seeming to mock Altuve — the Astros and their dynamic second baseman had the final say.

“It was pretty amazing how Altuve did it again,” catcher Martin Maldonado said. “He’s a guy with a big heart and is the face of this team. He got to the plate, we knew something big was going to happen.”

New York led 7-2 after a three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the eighth inning and was poised for a sweep before the Astros broke loose and dealt the Yankees another aching last-inning loss.

“It’s the ultimate gut punch,” manager Aaron Boone said. “You’ve got a five-run lead in the ninth against a great team with a chance to earn the sweep and they come back to win. We’ve got some things to get better at and make sure all hands are where they need to be.”

It was the first time the Astros won after trailing by five or more runs in the ninth inning since also being down 7-2 before rallying to beat the Montreal Expos 9-8 on July 25, 1980, according to information provided by the Astros from the Elias Sports Bureau.

After the first two Astros reached base against Domingo German in the ninth, Chas McCormick hit a two-run double off Chad Green (3-5). Abraham Toro followed with an RBI double to make it 7-5, with no outs.

Pinch-hitter Jason Castro singled and one out later, Altuve launched his soaring shot to left field. His teammates greeted him at the plate and ripped off his jersey in the celebration, leaving him shirtless as he hugged Baker on his way off the field.

“It was 100% coming off after that home run,” McCormick said of Altuve’s jersey.

Added Baker: “That was the most wonderful thing I’ve seen in years.”

Altuve was not available for a postgame interview. The Astros said his father was in the hospital and he rushed to be with him.

Boone was asked why he didn’t go to slumping closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

“I’m trying to get him into [positive] situations,” he said. “It’s critical we get him back to where we need to be. I want him to pitch those situations where he gets through with a clean outing under his belt.”

Ralph Garza Jr. (1-2) pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings for the win. He allowed three walks on a day the Astros won despite walking a whopping 14 batters.

Maldonado homered in the Houston third off Jameson Taillon, making it 1-all and giving Houston its first run in the series.

Maldonado pulled his jersey down on the left side, revealing his bare chest as he rounded third base.

“It was a little hot,” he said with a smile. “Trying to get some air inside my shirt.”

The move came a day after Judge pulled his jersey together with both hands as he rounded third on a home run. It was a gesture that some interpreted as a reference to Altuve gripping his jersey to keep celebrating teammates from ripping it off after his winning homer in Game 6 of the 2019 AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

After Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was uncovered, some speculated that Altuve didn’t want his jersey pulled off because he was concealing a buzzer that helped in the plot. The allegation was never proven, and Altuve said he did it because he was shy and that he got in trouble with his wife when his jersey was ripped off before.

Altuve was not made available early to discuss Judge’s display, but Baker weighed in on it Sunday.

“I noticed what he did,” Baker said. “That was wrong.”

Sanchez also pulled at his jersey very much like Judge did as he trotted home on his homer. He was greeted at the dugout steps by Rougned Odor, who draped him in a heavy Yankees coat — perhaps a reference to Judge saying he did what he did because it gets “pretty chilly” at Minute Maid Park when the roof is closed.

Boone was in no mood to talk about all the back and forth between the players after the loss.

“I really don’t have any interest,” he said. “We coughed up a 7-2 lead. I don’t think it had anything to do with the extra stuff people are talking about.”

Jose Altuve Among Seven Houston Astros Players Named as Finalists for 2021 MLB All-Star Game

Jose Altuve is one step closer to another All-Star game…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan Major League Baseball second baseman, a six-time MLB All-Star, is among seven Houston Astros players named as finalists to start in the 2021 All-Star Game.

Jose AltuveThe Astros have an MLB best seven finalists this season.

On June 23, Altuve hit his 150th career home run, doing so off Thomas Eshelman of the Baltimore Orioles.

The top three finalists for each position based on fan voting in each league, plus designated hitter for the American League, were announced Sunday.

Three teams — the Los Angeles DodgersChicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays — have five finalists for the Midsummer Classic, which will be played July 13 at Coors Field.

Voting on the finalists begins Monday and ends Thursday. The AL and NL All-Star starters, based on those votes, will be announced on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN. The remainder of the All-Star teams will be unveiled next Sunday at 5:30 pm ET on ESPN.

The finalists:

Catcher:

AL:

  1. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
  2. Martin Maldonado, Astros
  3. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox

NL:

  1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
  2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Willson Contreras, Cubs

First base:

AL:

  1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
  2. Yuli Gurriel, Astros
  3. Jose Abreu, White Sox

NL:

  1. Max Muncy, Dodgers
  2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  3. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Second base:

AL:

  1. Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
  2. Jose Altuve, Astros
  3. DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

NL:

  1. Ozzie Albies, Braves
  2. Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Gavin Lux, Dodgers

Shortstop:

AL:

  1. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
  2. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
  3. Carlos Correa, Astros

NL:

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
  2. Javier Baez, Cubs
  3. Brandon Crawford, Giants

Third base:

AL:

  1. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
  2. Alex Bregman, Astros
  3. Yoan Moncada, White Sox

NL:

  1. Kris Bryant, Cubs
  2. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
  3. Justin Turner, Dodgers

Outfield:

AL:

  1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
  2. Aaron Judge, Yankees
  3. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
  4. Michael Brantley, Astros
  5. Adolis García, Texas Rangers
  6. Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays
  7. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
  8. Alex Verdugo, Red Sox
  9. Randal Grichuk, Blue Jays

NL:

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds
  3. Jesse Winker, Reds
  4. Mookie Betts, Dodgers
  5. Chris Taylor, Dodgers
  6. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
  7. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Joc Pederson, Cubs
  9. Mike Yastrzemski, Giants

Designated hitter:

AL:

  1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
  2. D. Martinez, Red Sox
  3. Yordan Alvarez, Astros

Houston Astros Agree to One-Year Contract Extension with Martin Maldonado

Martin Maldonado is staying put…

The Houston Astros have reached a one-year contract extension with the 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher, according to general manager James Click.

Martin Maldonado

Under terms of the deal, Maldonado will make $5 million in 2022, according to sources. The deal, which includes a $500,000 buyout, also has a $5 million vesting option for 2023 that becomes guaranteed if Maldonado plays in 90 or more games this season.

Maldonado has served two stints with the Astros and has emerged one of their core vocal leaders over these last couple of years. He’s making $3.5 million in 2021, the second season of a $7 million, two-year contract.

He’s off to a slow start offensively this season — with only three hits and 17 strikeouts in 34 at-bats — and has batted only .216/.291/.352 throughout an MLB career that spans 11 seasons. But his value comes in his handling of the pitching staff and his defense, particularly his arm strength.

Maldonado won a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and ranks as the game’s best pitch-framer in 2021.

He would have been eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Carlos Correa Planning for Free Agency, Looking a “Big, Long Contract”

Carlos Correa is looking to go big

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

Carlos Correa

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened their season against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he also declined a $125 million, five-year bid — paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

Correa set a deadline of Opening Day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this season.

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses.

He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an MLB All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Sixto Sanchez Throws First Pitches for Miami Marlins

Sixto Sanchez is officially in the game for Miami…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher threw his first pitch for the Miami Marlins in the first spring training game of his career, squarely meeting Jose Altuve‘s bat.

Sixto Sanchez

The Houston Astros star grounded a leadoff single on Monday, but Sanchez shook off the setback on his way to 1 2/3 scoreless innings in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The season debut by the highly regarded right-hander was delayed by a visa issue and then a false positive on a COVID-19 test.

“I don’t feel frustrated, but it was a weird feeling,” Sanchez said via a translator. “That false positive spoiled my momentum, but I’m not that far behind. I just can’t pitch as many innings as the other guys.”

Because of off days, the Marlins could skip Sanchez’s first two turns of the season. But he’s expected to join the rotation by mid-April and is widely projected as a future ace.

“We know what we have with Sixto,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s just a matter of getting the process started for him. … It looked like his stuff was good. He was throwing strikes for the most part.”

Sanchez, acquired in the trade two years ago that sent catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies, made his MLB debut last August. He went 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts and pitched five shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

Against the Astros, Sanchez threw 30 pitches and topped out at 100 mph, which didn’t faze Altuve.

“He was ready, waiting for that fastball,” Sanchez said. “They’re going to be ready for that heat.”

As an alternative, Sanchez has been trying to polish his changeup this spring. He’ll get a chance to do so again Saturday, when he is tentatively scheduled to pitch three innings in his next start.

Carlos Correa Looking for Long-Term Contract with Houston Astros

Carlos Correa is looking for a long-term deal…

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop says he’s hoping for a long-term contract with the Houston Astros, but wants to seal any deal before Opening Day.

Carlos Correa

“I feel so good, my body feels so great and I feel like I’m going to have such a great season that once the season starts, I don’t want to be involved with or distracted with those conversations,” said Correa after the Astros held their first full-squad workout of the spring.

The Astros avoided arbitration with Correa, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, by signing him to a one-year, $11.7 million contract.

Correa has spent his entire career with the Astros after they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He said he’d like to stay in Houston, but so far, the team hasn’t talked to him about an extension.

“There’s no talks right now about that,” he said. “Talks are nowhere right now. I leave that up to my agent and the organization, but right now, there’s no talks about it. I haven’t heard from them since the arbitration was settled. That’s where we are right now.”

If Correa does hit the free-agent market, he’ll do it with a strong group of shortstops that could include Javier BáezFrancisco Lindor, Trevor Story and Corey Seager. Correa will be just 27 years old when he’s eligible for free agency if he doesn’t agree to an extension with the Astros.

 

“I’ll be really young. I’ll be one of the youngest players going to free agency next year,” he said. “I feel like it would take the right deal to stay here. I’m not going to sell myself short, but at the same time, I know what I’m worth. … I’m expecting to have a great, healthy season, which will help my case for free agency being the youngest shortstop out there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Houston’s other two stars on the infield have already agreed to long-term contracts — second baseman Jose Altuve signed a five-year, $151 million deal in 2018 and third baseman Alex Bregman agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract in 2019. The Astros lost star outfielder George Springer this offseason when he signed a six-year, $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Correa, who was the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year, is a career .276 hitter with 107 homers and 397 RBIs in six major league seasons. He hit .264 with five homers and 25 RBIs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but he heated up in the postseason where he had six homers and 17 RBIs to help the Astros to the America League Championship Series.

Aaron Sanchez Agrees to One-Year, $4 Million Deal with San Francisco Giants

Aaron Sanchez has agreed to a giant(s) deal…

The 28-year-old Mexican American professional baseball pitcher has finalized a $4 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, giving the club another experienced starter to join Johnny Cueto in the rotation.

Aaron Sanchez

The Giants said Sanchez could earn up to $2.5 million more in performance bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 16 and 18 starts and $500,000 each for 20, 22, 24 and 26 games started. He has been plagued by injuries in recent years.

Sanchez hasn’t pitched since 2019, sitting out last year’s shortened season while recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder. He went 5-14 with a 5.89 ERA over 27 starts and 131⅓ innings playing for Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros.

A 2016 MLB All-Star for the Blue Jays, he made only 20 starts in 2018 and eight starts the year before because of a blister and split fingernail.

The Giants cleared room on the 40-man roster for Sanchez by designating right-hander Trevor Gott for assignment.

Marwin Gonzalez Signs One-Year, $3 Million Deal with Boston Red Sox

Marwin Gonzalez is in the red

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball utility player, a free-agent infielder, has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN.

Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He hit .211 with five home runs and 22 RBIs last year in a pandemic-shortened schedule.

Before his stint in Minnesota, he played seven seasons with the Houston Astros. His best season was in 2017, when he hit .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers and 90 RBIs and helped the team win the World Series.

A switch-hitter known for his defensive versatility, Gonzalez played first base, second base, third base and right field for the Twins last season.

Boston’s agreement with Gonzalez, which was first reported by MLB.com, comes a day after the Red Sox traded Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team deal that yielded outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later.

Jonathan Villar Agrees to One-Year Deal with the New York Mets

Jonathan Villar has Mets his match…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player will be joining his fifth team in four seasons, agreeing to a one-year deal with the New York Mets, according to ESPN.

Jonathan Villar

Villar’s deal is for $3.55 million, according to multiple reports. His agreement with the Mets was first reported by MLB Network.

Villar, a switch-hitter, had a .232 batting average with 15 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 52 games between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He has shown his versatility in the field, playing second base, shortstop, third base and outfield during his career.

He adds infield depth behind new shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil.

Entering his ninth MLB season, Villar has also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros since 2013.

He has a career .259 batting average with 80 home runs, 283 RBIs and 218 stolen bases.

Carlos Correa Agrees to One-Year, $11.7 Million Deal to Stay with Houston Astros

Carlos Correa isn’t leaving Space City

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop and the Houston Astros have reached a settlement and avoided arbitration, the team has announced.

Carlos Correa

Both sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $11.7 million, according to multiple reports.

“I’m happy that we were able to come to an agreement and avoid arbitration,” Correa said in a statement. “Arbitration is not a good process.”

Correa had been seeking $12.5 million in 2021, while the Astros had offered $9.75 million.

Correa hit .264 with five home runs in 58 games last season but saw his numbers improve to .362 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 playoff games. Houston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Correa led major league shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage, making just one error.

Correa made $2,962,963 in 2020, a proration of his original $8 million salary, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB Network first reported financial details of the settlement.