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.
Harry Kane inspires England to World Cup knockout stage with Panama thrashing
- Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1
- England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod
NIZHNIY NOVGOROD: Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1 on Sunday to ease into the World Cup last 16 alongside Group G rivals Belgium.
Kane, who now has five goals in Russia, leapfrogged Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot as the Central Americans were sent packing along with Tunisia.
Belgium and England — who meet in Kaliningrad on Thursday to battle it out for top spot — both have six points after two games and are level on goal difference and goals scored.
England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod.
Two penalties from Kane and two goals from John Stones, plus an impressive strike from Jesse Lingard, gave England an unassailable 5-0 lead at half-time.
Kane completed his hat-trick in the 62nd minute and was then taken off by Gareth Southgate, who was looking to preserve the energy of his captain with tougher challenges ahead.
Felipe Baloy, 37, scored the first goal ever for Panama at a World Cup to narrow the gap but it could not mask the vast gulf in quality between the two sides.
“I’m very proud. Not many players get to score a hat-trick in the World Cup,” said Kane, who is only the third player to score three goals in a World Cup match after Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker for England.
“We have to enjoy this. It’s not every day we get to go through after two games.”
Southgate said he was pleased with the ruthlessness of his side.
“It was a different type of win to the other day (against Tunisia),” he said. “Then we had to go right to the wire and show qualities that are going to be really important to our resilience and sticking to our principles of play.”
Belgium hammered Tunisia 5-2 on Saturday, with two goals from both Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
In other games on Sunday, Japan can all but guarantee a place in the second round if they follow up their surprise opening defeat of Colombia by beating Senegal in Group H.
The Asian giants have vowed to take an aggressive approach against Senegal, who are spearheaded by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
Japan coach Akira Nishino said his team planned to mark Mane closely in Yekaterinburg.
“I am sure we can deal with him but with the contribution that Mane can make, it might be possible to mark him one on one or even three on one,” Nishino said.
“It is possible to stop him but the trouble is that he has influence too on other players, and that is what we are concerned about.”
Nishino said he had encouraged his team to chase victory in the second half against Colombia in their first game, and would adopt a similar approach against Senegal.
Poland and Colombia round off the second round of group matches in the late game in Kazan, both knowing they dare not lose if they want to retain any realistic hope of progressing.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has hinted that 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez could start against the Poles, who were beaten by Senegal in their opening game.
Rodriguez has been bothered by a calf injury which meant he started on the bench against Japan, but Pekerman indicated he may be ready to face Poland.
“His appearance off the bench last time out gave him some confidence,” Pekerman said.
“We’ve had to fine-tune a few little details but he’s been working hard in recent days and we’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent.”
World Cup holders Germany were breathing a sigh of relief after Toni Kroos’s 95th-minute missile secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden on a dramatic Saturday in Sochi.
But they are not out of the woods yet — to guarantee they have the chance to become the first team to successfully defend the title since Brazil in 1962, Germany must beat South Korea by a two-goal margin in Kazan.
Defender Mats Hummels said Kroos’s goal could be a turning point.
“Something like this can be a big moment in the tournament. But if we lose against South Korea or don’t make it to the next stage, the goal isn’t worth anything.”