Yordan Alvarez has done it again…
The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball designated hitter and left fielder hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning off Seattle Mariners ace Luis Castillo that lifted the Houston Astros over the Mariners 4-2 on Thursday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.
Alvarez was the Game 1 hero with his gut-punch, three-run shot off reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray with two outs in the ninth inning that gave the Astros an 8-7 win in a game in which they had trailed by four.
With Thursday’s home run, Alvarez became the first player in Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason history to hit multiple career go-ahead homers in the sixth inning or later when his team was trailing, and both of his came in his past two games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Castillo, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds near the trade deadline and coming off 7⅓ innings of shutout ball against Toronto Blue Jays in the wild-card round, gave up an early home run to Kyle Tucker but little else as he took a 2-1 lead into the sixth.
But with two outs, Jeremy Peña singled on a blooper that fell in between second baseman Adam Frazier and center fielder Julio Rodríguez. Castillo bent down and slapped his legs in disappointment as he watched the ball drop in shallow center.
That brought up Alvarez, who hit a 98 mph pitch tailing away to the opposite field, into the short porch in left to put the Astros on top 3-2.
Alvarez, who had 37 homers in the regular season, trotted around the bases as cameras panned to his Cuban parents, who are watching their first postseason series after arriving in Houston in August. The lefty pointed to them as he reached the plate before reenacting the powerful swing that has the Astros one win away from their sixth straight AL Championship Series.
There were two outs and a runner on first in the eighth when Seattle had surely seen enough of Alvarez leaving the yard. The Mariners intentionally walked him and Alex Bregman made them pay, adding some insurance when he singled to make it 4-2.
Houston starter Framber Valdez had a solid start, allowing four hits and two runs in 5⅔ innings. He had a different look than he did in his last postseason appearance after he and fellow pitcher Luis Garcia both got hair extensions this season.
Hector Neris earned the win after getting the last out of the sixth inning to escape a bases-loaded jam. Bryan Abreu got the first two outs of the seventh before Rafael Montero came in and threw 1⅓ scoreless innings.
Ryan Pressly walked the leadoff batter in the ninth before J.P. Crawford lined into a double play. Rodríguez doubled after that, but Pressly struck out Ty France for the save. The Astros won despite issuing seven walks overall.
The Mariners will head back to Seattle for Game 3 on Saturday in a huge hole in the best-of-five series as they host their first playoff game in 21 years.