Jose Altuve Homers to Tie for Second on MLB’s All-Time Playoff Home Run Leaderboard

Jose Altuve has batted his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

During Game 2 of the World Series, the 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Houston Astros second baseman hit a home run off a first-pitch fastball from Drew Smyly, leading off the bottom of the seventh by sneaking a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for a 7-2 Astros lead.

Jose Altuve

It was Altuve’s 22nd career home run in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for second on the all-time list.

The two trail behind Manny Ramirez‘s 29 postseason homers.

While Williams did it in 121 games, Altuve has required just 75. Altuve had struggled in the ALCS, hitting .125 (although with two home runs), and then went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1.

He then turned around and gave Houston two big swings in Game 2 on Wednesday night — including an historic one.

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie him — always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it’s Bernie Williams — it means a lot to me,” Altuve said. “It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything’s good.”

Overall, the 2017 American League MVP Award winner is Houston’s all-time leader in postseason hits (88), runs (66) and home runs (22), and this year, he became the fastest player in MLB history to hit 20 postseason home runs when he went deep in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Houston Astros Slugger Yordan Alvarez Named American League Championship Series MVP

Yordan Alvarez is celebrating his ALCS performance with a special trophy…

The 24-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a designated hitter and outfielder for the Houston Astros was named the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) after almost single-handedly leading his team to the American League pennant.

Yordan Alvarez

In the final three games of the ALCS — a run that started with the Astros facing a 2-1 series deficit to the Boston Red Sox — Alvarez went 9-for-13.

In Games 5 and 6, he outhit the entire Red Sox roster on his own, 7-5. His ALCS performance peaked at Minute Maid Park in Game 6: 4-for-4 with a single, a double, a triple, a run and an RBI, as Houston finished off the series with a 5-0 victory over Boston.

“It was all about focus,” Alvarez told ESPN‘s Marly Rivera after the game. “That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to do damage and that’s what happened.”

Alvarez’s showing in the ALCS surprised even himself, especially after a 2020 season when he only played two games and underwent surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, along with arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Yordan Alvarez“I didn’t really imagine myself being able to come out of that surgery on both knees and be able to do this as quickly as I did,” Alvarez said. “So it was really unbelievable for me to be able to come back and do what I did. Just super happy to be here and be able to contribute like that.”

Throughout the series, Astros manager Dusty Baker noted the exceptional impact Alvarez made in the middle of Houston’s lineup — and how his power bat changed the trajectory of the team’s season.

“He is a big boy in the middle,” Baker said.

Alvarez is the second Astros player with 11 hits in a playoff series, behind only Jose Altuve‘s 12 in the 2020 ALCS. He became the fifth player in MLB history with 11 or more hits in a single series against the Red Sox, joining a club with Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams (2004), Lou Brock (1967) and Buck Herzog (1912).

Baker noted Alvarez’s all-fields approach, which has drawn comparisons to the way David Ortiz consistently drove pitches on the outer half of the plate the other way. During the 2021 season, Alvarez pulled baseballs 36.4%, and hit them up the middle and to the opposite field 36.3% and 27.3% of the time, respectively.

His average exit velocity of 93.2 mph ranked ninth in MLB, ahead of Manny MachadoJuan Soto and Bryce Harper, according to Baseball Savant.

“He hits the ball in the opposite field and it stays straight,” Baker said. “It doesn’t have a slice on it, and everybody knows he can pull the ball, but he also has power the other way. He is only going to get better. Like last year at this time, we didn’t have Alvarez, and we came close to going to the series last year without Alvarez. And now we have Alvarez, and we’re very, very grateful and thankful that we have him.”

After the game, Alvarez gave credit to Baker for his support throughout the season.

“He understands how it is to be a ballplayer,” Alvarez said. “He understands what guys go through every day. I got a chance to spend time with him in spring training as well. He has been really helpful to me, and I’m thankful for everything that he has given to me in this time together.”

Alvarez’s three extra-base hits in a potential series-clinching game tie Carlos Correa for the most in Astros history, and he joins Yuli Gurriel and Craig Biggio as the only Astros with consecutive three-hit games in the postseason.

That historic performance did not go unnoticed by his teammates.

“Yordan was, like, something else,” said Astros pitcher Luis Garcia. “He was really clutch, everything.”

Alvarez’s successful 2019 campaign for Rookie of the Year — where he hit .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers, 26 doubles and 78 RBIs with 3.7 bWAR in 87 games — served as his introduction to the national stage, but he cemented his place among the best designated hitters with his 2021 season, hitting .277/.346/.531 with 33 homers, 104 RBIs, 35 doubles and a triple with 3.2 bWAR this year.

But none of them meant as much as winning the ALCS MVP trophy.

“It means everything,” Alvarez said. “It means everything. I think there’s a lot of things that I could say that’s behind that trophy, but all I can say is it just means everything.”

As the spotlight got brighter, so did Alvarez’s performance at the plate. The ALCS MVP trophy served as a cherry on top.

Yuli Gurriel Claims American League Batting Champion Title

Yuli Gurriel’s career is in full swing

The 37-year-old Cuban professional baseball first baseman, nicknamed “La Piña”, hit a winning RBI single in the ninth inning, and the AL West champion Houston Astros headed to the postseason with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Yuli Gurriel,

Gurriel, the American League batting champion, hit .319 and became Houston’s second player to win a batting title after Jose Altuve in 2014, ’16 and ’17. Gurriel became the second Cuban-born big league batting champion following Tony Oliva in 1964, ’65 and 1971.

“It’s something really important,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I think everybody knows it’s a big deal, and it’s tough to win a batting title, so that means a lot. I was fine either way with playing today. … It turned out that I was able to be there in the end, so it all worked out.”

Gurriel, who entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement, singled to left off Lou Trivino (7-8) to score Jason Castro, who had singled starting the inning and took third on Yordan Álvarez’s one-out double.

Gurriel said he wasn’t prepared to hit on Sunday and hadn’t taken a swing all day before the at bat, but he had a positive mindset to get a hit.

“He didn’t sit on it,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker, who claimed he predicted to bench coach Joe Espada the previous inning that “Yuli is going to win this game. Walkoff.”

Oakland was 86-76, finishing nine games behind the Astros in third place.

Carlos Correa Hits Career-High 25th Home Run to Help Houston Astros Clinch AL West Title

Carlos Correa has blasted his team to another title…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop hit his career-high 25th home run with a three-run shot, as the Houston Astros clinched the AL West title with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.

Carlos Correa

It’s the fourth division title in five seasons and 10th overall for the Astros. They’re in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.

“That sounds pretty special,” Correa said.

The Astros will open the AL Division Series on October 7 against the Chicago White Sox — home field for that best-of-five matchup is still to be determined. Houston went 5-2 against the White Sox this year.

Houston was a wild-card team last year in manager Dusty Baker‘s first season with the club. So where did this division-clinching victory rate on his list?

“Every time you win, it ranks higher than the last time. And you never get tired of winning,” he said.

Correa’s huge hit in the fourth inning allowed the Astros to put a recent stretch where they dropped five of six games behind them and let the celebration begin at Minute Maid Park.

“We are where we are because of him,” Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve said.

Astros mascot Orbit dashed onto the field waving a huge orange flag that touted the team’s division title as the players cheered and embraced after the final out.

“I’m proud of my team,” Altuve said. “They went out there every single day this season to make this happen.”

Tampa Bay, which has already clinched the top seed in the American League playoffs, put runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth but didn’t score.

Rays rookie Wander Franco went 0-for-4 to snap a 43-game on-base streak, which tied him with Frank Robinson in 1956 for the longest such string in MLB history among players 20 or younger.

 

Yuli Gurriel singled to start Houston’s fourth and Kyle Tucker walked. Correa followed with his towering shot that smashed off the wall in left field to put the Astros up 3-0 against Ryan Yarbrough (9-7).

The charismatic shortstop put a hand to his ear to encourage the crowd as the rounded third base on the home run trot.

Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5) didn’t allow a hit until Ji-Man Choi singled to start the sixth. There were two outs in the inning when Brandon Lowe homered on a ball to right field that sailed just inside the foul pole to cut the lead to 3-2.

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

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.

Anthony Rendon Helps Lead Washington Nationals to World Series Game 6 Victory

Anthony Rendon is celebrating his high-octane performance in the World Series

The 29-year-old Latino Washington Nationals third baseman came up big for the team with a huge two-run home run shot to put Washington up 5-2 against the Houston Astros in World Series Game 6, helping cement the team’s victory to set up a decisive Game 7.

Anthony Rendon

In the end, the Nationals defeated the Astros 7-2 in a game that made up for the lack of drama throughout most of the first five games in the series.

The Nationals have now won their fourth straight elimination game this postseason to force the 40th Game 7 in World Series history.

Rendon got the scoring started with a single through Houston’s shifted infield. That was just the beginning of a massive game for Washington’s All-Star third baseman. The Astros immediately countered with two runs against Stephen Strasburg in the bottom half following a George Springer double, a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly and an Alex Bregmanhome run thatraised the ire of baseball purists because he decided to carry his bat all the way with him to first base.

That moment prompted a response from Washington’s Juan Soto, who four innings later carried his own bat all the way to first base following a go-ahead home run. Soto’s blast followed Adam Eaton’s game-tying home run off Justin Verlander.

The game’s two biggest hits were both delivered by Rendon. In the seventh inning, he smashed a two-run home run to extend the Nationals lead and lessen the impact of the earlier interference call. Then in the ninth, he put the game away with a two-run double.

Strasburg made the support stand up, pitching 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball before turning it over to closer Sean Doolittle.

Houston Astros’ Star Jose Altuve Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Altuve is an American (League) hero…

The 27-year-old Venezuelan baseball star, a second baseman for the Houston Astros, has won the American League MVP award, beating out New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin and capping the Astros’ championship season with another top prize.

Jose Altuve

Altuve , whos stands at 5-foot-6, received 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

“I was surprised that I won it,” Altuve said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Altuve batted a Major League Baseball-best .346. He had 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs for the World Series champion Astros.

It’s been over a decade since Altuve signed with Houston from Venezuela — only after he was sent home from one tryout and told he was too short.

“They told me not to come back,” Altuve said. “It was something me and my dad, he went with me that day, we were like, ‘We have to go again. We have to try again.'”

“It’s not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be really strong to play baseball and become a good player,” he added.

Altuve beat out a player who couldn’t be more different. The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third.

Altuve said on ESPN’s SportsCenter that winning the MVP has fueled him for years to come.

“Winning the MVP has made me want to keep getting better and keep helping my team for the next whatever years.”

Altuve is one of two second basemen in MLB history to hit .330 in a season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (once). Altuve has done it in each of the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Altuve is the second Astros player to win an MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

He is the third player during the wild-card era to be named his league’s MVP in the same year that his team won the World Series. The other players to do that since 1995 are Buster Posey (2012 San Francisco Giants) and Kris Bryant (2016 Chicago Cubs), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.