Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in four, Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead, two-run single during Houston’s four-run sixth inning and the Astros rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 10-5 in the opener of their AL Division Series on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
The Astros rallied with two outs in the sixth against Oakland’s vaunted bullpen to take control of Major League Baseball’s first neutral-site postseason game resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Houston pounded out 16 hits in all as the A’s ran through eight pitchers.
The teams combined for six home runs in daytime conditions that were ripe for the ball to carry at the stadium where the Dodgers hit a major league-leading 118 homers. The temperature was 32 C at game time under sunny skies and with little breeze, although tricky shadows crept toward the mound during the final innings. The entire best-of-five series will be played during the day. At night, the air is cooler and often thicker, an environment less favourable to hitters.
Houston’s hitters hadn’t looked quite the same this year, the first since their sign-stealing scheme was unveiled. Altuve, Correa and others slumped during the regular season, and the team hit a combined .194 during a two-game sweep of Minnesota in the wild-card round.
“You can’t judge this offence by 60 games,” Correa said.
The Astros’ swagger emerged at the same ballpark where they beat the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series in seven games, helped by their sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball and drew the ire of rival players and fans.
After two quick outs in the sixth, Houston’s Josh Reddick reached when shortstop Marcus Semien booted a grounder for a costly error that allowed the Astros to extend the inning.
Martin Maldonado followed with a single. Springer doubled to shallow left for his 25th career post-season extra-base hit in the leadoff spot, moving past Derek Jeter for most ever, according to Stats Perform. The ball zinged down the third-base line past a diving Chad Pinder, pulling Houston to 5-4.
Altuve’s line-drive single to left scored Maldonado and Springer to put the Astros back in front, 6-5. Altuve moved up on the throw home and scored on Michael Brantley’s single to right.
Correa’s second home run — a blast to centre in the seventh — had Ramon Laureano climbing the wall in pursuit. His spikes dug a hole in the wall covering as the Astros led 8-5.
Houston added two runs in the ninth on Correa’s RBI single and Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly.
Blake Taylor got the victory with one inning of relief. J.B. Wendelken took the loss, allowing four runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Yankees hit 4 HRs in win over Rays
Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam in the ninth inning for New York’s fourth home run of the game, and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 Monday night in the opener of their AL Division Series at Petco Park.
Stanton homered to straightaway centre field on a 2-2 pitch from John Curtiss with one out. The slugger took several steps with his bat still in his hands as he watched the ball sail through the warm San Diego night before beginning his trot.
A few fans chanted “Let’s Go Yankees!” from a balcony on an office building just beyond right field of the mostly empty ballpark.
Kyle Higashioka and Aaron Judge hit the tying and go-ahead home runs off Blake Snell in the fifth inning. Clint Frazier hit an impressive shot into the second deck in left in the third.
The Bronx Bombers became the first team in American League history to hit a grand slam in back-to-back playoff games. Gio Urshela did it in Game 2 of the first-round sweep of Cleveland. Two NL teams have done it, the 1977 Dodgers and 2011 Diamondbacks.
The Yankees have now hit 11 home runs in their first 3 playoff games this year
That’s the most in a 3-game span in postseason history.
They are also the 3rd team in postseason history with a grand slam in consecutive playoff games (1977 Dodgers and 2011 D-backs). pic.twitter.com/R2ZNtGDaRS
The Yankees set a franchise record by hitting at least three home runs in three straight post-season games. They are the second team to do in baseball history after the Rays did it in four straight in 2008.
New York has hit 11 homers in those three games. They are the most for any team in the first three games of a post-season.
The ball was flying for the Rays as well off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in downtown San Diego. Randy Arozarena homered with two outs in the first and Ji-Man Choi muscled an opposite-field, two-run shot with no outs in the fourth into the Rays bullpen beyond the fence in left-center to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.
Game 2 is Tuesday night.
Teams that have out-homered the opposition are 13-0 this post-season.
Coincidentally, Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin was a slugger for the Padres when Petco Park opened in 2004 with vast outfield dimensions. He and Ryan Klesko groused about how they’d crush a ball that would be a homer in other parks, only to watch it go for a long out. Nevin once hit a double that he thought should have been a homer. After reaching second, he gestured angrily toward general manager Kevin Towers’ box. The two later had words in the clubhouse.
The fences were moved in prior to the 2013 season.
Cole got the win by going six innings, allowing three runs and six hits while striking out eight and walking two. He was pitching about 100 miles south of where he grew up in Newport Beach before playing at UCLA. Cole beat Tampa Bay twice in last year’s ALDS while with Houston.
Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, was the loser. He went five innings and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two.