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.

THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Peerless Paul Pogba, hapless PSG and sloppy City

Updated 20 September 2018

THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Peerless Paul Pogba, hapless PSG and sloppy City

After the first round of Champions League matches we look at the main talking points from club football’s biggest competition.


This is the one tournament the French club want to win, they are virtually assured of winning 
Ligue 1 year after year and in the glamor stakes the French top-flight does not quite cut it. Qatar has thrown a lot of cash at the capital club and in return PSG have some great players to thrill the fans — Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe make one heck of a front three. But while they have great individuals they do not have much of a team. The side’s 3-2 defeat at Liverpool highlighted everything that is wrong about the moneybags side, the attackers allowed to drift wherever they want, without much purpose and end result. The scoreline flattered the French side, make no mistake about it, Liverpool won at a canter. PSG get away with it in French football, but come the tough examinations in Europe they will get found out time and again.


If reports are to be believed it would seem Jose Mourinho has a fairly frosty relationship with Paul Pogba. It has been rumored that the Frenchman is keen to leave Manchester United and that the Portuguese boss would not do much to persuade him to stay. But on the evidence of Pogba’s performance in United’s 3-0 win at Young Boys in Switzerland Mourinho would be well advised to do everything in his power to keep the midfield maestro. The 25-year-old dominated the clash and showed exactly why he is, on his day, the best midfielder on the planet. He scored twice, to now give him four goals in six matches, having managed six last season for the club and nine in the previous campaign. His opener at Young Boys saw him make a run from midfield to near the area before a brilliant left-foot finish soared into the back of the net. Mourinho praised his captain after the match and will doubtless set about trying to prise that sort of performance from his main man week in, week out.


Having coasted to the Premier League title last season, breaking numerous records along the way, City were favorites to win the Champions League this year. But one game in, a shock defeat at home to Lyon, and there appear to be cracks in the side. The 2-1 loss was a huge shock and for once the slick passing and ability to create chances galore were noticeable by their absence. Once they fell behind, Pep Guardiola’s men looked as if they could not think on their feet, unable to work out why they were not brushing aside a team that have failed to challenge for the French title for several years. It is only one match, but as starts to a campaign go, it could not have gone much worse.