Altuve belts three homers as Astros win opener
Altuve belts three homers as Astros win opener
Most Valuable Player candidate Altuve posted just the 10th three-homer game in Major League Baseball post-season history as the Astros’ batting lineup overpowered Cy Young contender and Red Sox starter Chris Sale Thursday in front of a crowd of 43,100 at Minute Maid Park.
“I couldn’t believe any of my homers,” Altuve said. “I hit one and I was like, ‘Wow!’ And the second one was like, ‘Wow, what’s going on here?’ (After the third homer), oh, I don’t know. I got to wake up.”
In the late game, Trevor Bauer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and combined with two relievers on a three-hitter as the Cleveland Indians shut out the New York Yankees 4-0 in game one of their AL series.
All-star second baseman Altuve hit two of his homers off Sale, finishing with three hits in four at-bats.
He staked the Astros to a 2-0 lead with a solo homer in the first inning before adding a two-out shot off Sale in the fifth and a leadoff homer against Red Sox relief pitcher Austin Maddox in the seventh.
Houston seized a 1-0 series lead by hammering four home runs overall while getting two-run base hits from Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann.
Sale, making his first career playoff start, was shaky throughout his five-plus innings.
He surrendered nine hits and one walk and was charged with seven earned runs while striking out six.
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander finished with two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings. He recorded his eighth post-season win.
Verlander needed 79 pitches to complete four innings, having surrendered a two-out single to Sandy Leon in the second and a sacrifice fly to Rafael Devers that scored Mookie Betts in the fourth.
But Verlander tossed just 20 pitches total in the fifth and sixth, and by the time right-hander Chris Devenski entered in relief in the seventh the Astros held a commanding five-run lead.
In Cleveland, Bauer did not surrender a hit until the sixth inning when Aaron Hicks doubled with one out.
The only other hit against Bauer was a single by Starlin Castro with two outs in the seventh.
Jay Bruce had a home run and three RBIs for the Indians.
Bauer, who was 17-9 during the regular season, threw 98 pitches, striking out eight with one walk.
Andrew Miller followed Bauer to the mound and struck out three of the five batters he faced, but the left-hander walked two in the eighth inning.
Closer Cody Allen relieved Miller and he struck out Aaron Judge to end the inning. Allen retired the side in the ninth to pick up the save.
Judge, who blasted 52 home runs during the regular season, struck out four times.
Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched just over three innings, giving up three runs and three hits with two strikeouts and four walks.
’Mohamed Salah is up there with the world’s best,’ says Liverpool skipper
- Egyptian has scored 41 in 46 appearances
- Jordan Henderson feels top clubs will be looking to sign Salah
LIVERPOOL: Jordan Henderson is confident Mohamed Salah will not be lured away from Anfield in the same manner the Egyptian was tempted from Roma last year.
Salah has surpassed all expectations since his then-club record €42 million ($52 million) move back to the Premier League last June and will face his old club in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal on Tuesday.
An incredible return of 41 goals in 46 appearances saw Salah crowned the Premier League Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday.
However, unlike Liverpool stars of recent seasons such as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, who were attracted by the glamor of a move to Barcelona, Henderson hopes Salah is convinced to stay by the growing momentum at Liverpool and the belief they can compete for major trophies under Jurgen Klopp.
“He’s a fantastic player, obviously he’s up there with the world’s best and there will be other clubs that want to take him away,” said Henderson.
“But he’s in a great place with a great set of lads, great team, with a great manager, going in the right direction. We want to create our own history here and I’m sure Mo will want to be part of that for many years to come.”
Roma co-owner James Pallotta recognized this week that Liverpool didn’t even have to beat off much competition to Salah’s signature, as he had only shown inconsistent flashes of his full potential in two years in the Italian capital.
Klopp is credited with finding the system to bring the best out of Salah.
And having led Liverpool back to the last four of the Champions League for the first time in a decade, Henderson said his team-mates feel “privileged” to work with the German.
“He’s one of the best managers in the world. First and foremost tactically it goes without question how knowledgeable he is within the game, you can see that in the performances, the style of play and how we play football,” he added.
“Off the field he’s a fantastic human. Very genuine, has a great passion for football and that transcends throughout the team.
“He always keeps you on your toes, always looking for more, he never wants the standards to drop no matter who we are playing. He’s an amazing manager and everybody in the squad feels privileged to be working with him.”
Roma have had to wait even longer for a European Cup semifinal with their last appearance coming 34 years ago when they beat Dundee United but went on to lose to Liverpool in the final.
The manner in which they reached the semifinals even outshone Liverpool’s 5-1 quarter-final thrashing of Premier League champions Manchester City as Roma came back from a 4-1 first leg deficit against Barcelona thanks to a 3-0 second leg victory masterminded by Roma’s own impressive coach in Eusebio Di Francesco.
But apart from their physical similarities, Di Francesco — who is making his debut as a coach in the Champions League this season — believes he has a long way to go to earn comparisons with Klopp.
“As Klopp mentioned there are similarities in that we both wear glasses and have a beard,” he joked. “But I very much like his outlook.
“I am concerned we play a team coached by such a great manager. Klopp has proved himself, has won already titles, but I have great ambitions.”