Yordan Alvarez may be putting together one of the greatest postseason games we’ve seen yet.
Then again, he may never find another good sounding beat.
For the second time in as many games, Alvarez home run single-handedly beat the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the American League Division Series, when he hit a opposite-field, two-run homer off Mariners ace Luis Castillo to close it out. one-run, sixth inning deficit. The Astros never trailed and moved within their sixth consecutive American League Championship Series with a 4-2 Game 2 victory over the Mariners.
Alvarez became the first player in major league history to hit a home run and follow it up with a home run in consecutive games.
A look at three takeaways from China’s Game 2:
Follow the whole game: Live MLB Scores
WHY NOT? The Padres believe they ‘can beat anybody’ – even the Dodgers
KEEP UP TO DATE: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!
Your don, Alvarez
It was one thing for Alvarez to hit a two-out, three-run, walk-off home run to steal Game 1 from Seattle. The outburst came from Mariners lefty Robbie Ray, who had been making an ill-advised appearance and singled to center field for the Astros slugger.
China was something else entirely.
Castillo was cruising, allowing just five balls out of the park and leading 2-1 in the sixth, when he singled out Kyle Tucker on a home run.
But rookie Jeremy Peña notched his second walk-off in as many games, matching his ninth-inning single since Game 1 that preceded Alvarez’s walk-off. This time, it broke a streak of 13 consecutive Astros Castillo retired, along with Tucker’s third-inning homer.
That set Alvarez up, and Castillo stopped him accordingly, launching him with a 98-mph sinker from the plate that Alvarez fouled. He threw him almost like a pitch, a good two inches from the plate.
This time, Alvarez did not miss.
While his Game 1 winner was a blast to right field, this time he stayed on the ball and hit it to left field, knowing the short left field. The ball sat easily in the Crawford Boxes.
“I call him GrandeAstros manager Dusty Baker said of Alvarez, “because he always comes up big.”
The lead is gone. The series is almost over. The next time up, Mariners manager Scott Servais intentionally walked Alvarez, even though he was on first base.
Two at-bats too late.
Seattle, are you drowning?
Imagine waiting 21 years to play the game and only playing one game at home.
Well, that’s the reality facing the Mariners after they won a three-game series in Toronto, then traveled to Houston for Games 1 and 2 of this ALDS.
Now, their hopes rest on rookie right-hander George Kirby, battling a 2-0 deficit and wondering if Castillo can bounce back from a 104-pitch outing and start Game 5 on three days rest. Flying from Houston to Seattle will give them time to think about the scope of their work.
Like Kirby winning in a win-or-go-home game.
And trying to upset future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who they rocked in Game 1 but let off the hook with Alvarez’s blast, in Game 4.
And then figure out who will start and win Game 5 back in Houston.
The offense was heavy on Verlander and the Blue Jays got Houston shortstop Framber Valdez to work, but they managed just four hits in Game 2. Their reliever, Andrés Muñoz, scored again with Alex Bregman, giving up an RBI single. in the eighth inning after giving up a two-run homer to him in the first game.
That previously worked poorly against Houston. And they are running out of time.
Jeremy Peña: Playoff ready
None of this would be possible without Peña’s two-out single in Game 1. Thursday, he had two hits and scored twice, including a home run on Bregman’s hard-hit RBI single. Oh, and he’s been playing shortstop, continuing to fill the big void left by Carlos Correa’s departure last winter.
“When you get to this point,” Baker said, “you can be a wide-eyed rookie or sometimes you can be a wide-eyed veteran who doesn’t act like a rookie.”
Peña has been anything but wide-eyed, the biggest surprise of this Astros playoff run.