Altuve belts three homers as Astros win opener

Updated 06 October 2017

Altuve belts three homers as Astros win opener

LOS ANGELES: Jose Altuve became the first player in club history to homer three times in a playoff game as Houston clobbered Boston 8-2 in the opening game of their American League division series.
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.

Slick Manchester City and awful Arsenal: Five things we learned from the Premier League's opening weekend

Updated 14 August 2018

Slick Manchester City and awful Arsenal: Five things we learned from the Premier League's opening weekend

  • Sense of deja vu as new season gets underway.
  • A lot of work needing to be put in by some sides after first fixture.

The Premier League season got underway at the weekend, so we have just the nine months of listening to Jose Mourinho moan, watching Manchester City and Liverpool entertain and a lot of controversy to look forward to. We know it is only one game, but ever keen to put our necks on the line, here is what we think we learned from the first 90 minutes of the season.

We know it is only one match in, but looking at two London clubs, Tottenham and West Ham, it would seem chequebook management sometimes is not the way forward. Spurs bought no one in the summer, yet looked as clinical as they did last season on their way to a 2-1 away win at Newcastle. The Hammers, on the other hand, spent more than £100 million ($127 million) and looked far from the vibrant, new side the fans had hoped for during Liverpool’s easy 4-0 demolition job. Fans would do well to remember that activity in the transfer market is not the be-all and end-all.

It was a tough opening day for Marko Arnautovic and West Ham despite the money spent over the summer. 

As with transfers, changing the manager likewise is not a quick cure. Judging from the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat by Manchester City, new boss Unai Emery has a big rebuilding job on his hands. Arsenal looked limp during the clash at the Emirates; City barely broke sweat as they took all the points. It was always appreciated that after 22 years of Arsene Wenger, the Spaniard would need some time to stamp his authority on the side, but on the evidence of one match, he perhaps needs more time than anyone thought. Whether he will be given it is another matter.

New coach but same old faults for Mesut Ozil and Arsenal, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City 

Understandably a lot was made of players who had been at the World Cup being rested and easing them into the season. Try telling that to Raheem Sterling (left), Kyle Walker, Deli Alli and Paul Pogba. All four had small breaks
because of the tournament in Russia and all of them looked fresh, energetic and ready for the long season. Not only that, but all of them were key to their sides’ victories. Whether they maintain that form in remains to be seen.

Paul Pogba clearly did not need a longer break after his brilliant goal-scoring display agaisnt Leicester.

Opening-day fixtures usually bring cheer to newly-promoted sides. It is common to see a few shocks as the unheralded new boys get one over their more established rivals. On paper Fulham, having to face Crystal Palace at home, Wolverhampton playing Everton at home and Cardiff away at Bournemouth all offered the promoted sides great chances of starting the season well. So the fact that between them they only managed a point — with Wolves having a man advantage for most of the match against Everton — does not bode well. Early days, but new clubs need a good start to have a chance of staying up.

Wolverhampton and fellow new boys Fulham and Cardiff all need a quick start to the season to settle their nerves. 

Yes, the season is only one game old, but already there is a familiar feel to it. City looked imperious at Arsenal (no bad side), Liverpool look like they will score by the bucketload and run City close, Spurs and Manchester United looked solid and tough teams to beat and Chelsea seemed like they will be in the running for the top four. All in all, it is far from revelatory and far from the edge-of-your-seat-drama you would hope for. That, however, is modern-day football and in the long run we hope we are proved wrong and there are a few shocks on the way.

It was business as usual for Liverpool and Mo Salah as they strolled to a 4-0 demolition job of West Ham.