Astros-Crimson Sox ALCS Sport 1 takeaways: Kike’ Hernandez retains rolling, Houston’s center infield stays clutch

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Astros-Crimson Sox ALCS Sport 1 takeaways: Kike' Hernandez retains rolling, Houston's center infield stays clutch

If there’s ever a recreation in a league championship sequence that may be counted on to be low-scoring, it is Sport 1. The 2 groups often hand the ball to their greatest arms, hoping to close down the opposing bats to take the higher hand within the sequence.

However the Crimson Sox and Astros gave an early indication Friday that their ALCS will likely be high-scoring. The 2 powerhouse offenses every racked up double-digit hit totals, and solely by going a mixed 1 for 16 with runners in scoring place and leaving 18 runners on base had been they in a position to preserve the rating at 5-4, with the Astros prevailing.

The Astros’ pitchers settled in after permitting three runs within the high of the third, and Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa delivered key blows within the sixth and seventh innings to spark Houston to the Sport 1 win.

There was quite a bit to absorb throughout the sequence opener. Listed here are three takeaways from it.

MORE: 2021 MLB postseason schedule

Kiké Hernandez continues to dominate

Hernandez made his mark within the ALDS towards the Rays when he helped spark a 14-6 win in Sport 2 with a five-hit efficiency. He homered, hit three doubles, drove in three runs and scored 3 times. He completed the sequence sizzling with an absurd .450/.429/.900 slash line.

He confirmed no indicators of slowing down Friday.

Hernandez led off the sport with a single over the top of Correa, launched a game-tying solo homer within the high of the third, blooped a double to left within the high of the fourth and homered once more within the high of the ninth for one final Crimson Sox gasp.

His OPS within the ALCS after Sport 1 is 3.000. Yeah, that’ll play.

This is not only a tear that gamers go on throughout the postseason. According to Stathead, Hernandez’s 13 hits in 4 ALDS video games and one ALCS recreation are tied for probably the most of any participant in MLB historical past in a five-game span within the live-ball period, and he joins Albert Pujols, George Brett and Robin Yount as the one gamers in MLB historical past with a number of four-hit video games of their postseason careers.

MLB’s Sarah Langs has extra on his spectacular run.

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa nonetheless Houston’s spark

It is protected to say that the Astros can be a great distance from the place they’re now with out Altuve and Correa.

Altuve has been with the crew because the darkish ages — his first two full seasons within the large leagues, Houston misplaced 107 and 111 video games in back-to-back seasons — however it was clear he was going to be a spark for the franchise transferring ahead. Correa was thought-about the turning level within the rebuild; in his rookie marketing campaign of 2015, the Astros reached the playoffs for the primary time since shedding the World Sequence in 2005.

Now deep into their Astros tenure, and in maybe Correa’s final run with the membership, the 2 are nonetheless coming by means of within the clutch.

MORE: La Russa says Astros have a ‘character problem’

Altuve scored Houston’s first run on a sacrifice fly within the first inning. He coughed up an error in a key second that led to Boston taking the lead within the third, however he made up for it with a two-run, no-doubt homer to tie the sport 3-3 within the backside of the sixth.

After which Correa hit a towering shot to left within the seventh to offer Houston a 4-3 lead. Altuve hit a sacrifice fly within the eighth that proved to be pivotal; it gave Houston a two-run lead, sufficient to outlive Hernandez’s homer within the ninth.

These gamers have proved again and again that they will not get stage fright within the highlight. Altuve’s homer moved him forward of Albert Pujols and George Springer on the all-time postseason dwelling run listing together with his twentieth, good for a tie with Derek Jeter for third-most all-time. His two runs scored moved him previous Chipper Jones into fifth place all time with 60 within the playoffs. His profession 2.2 win chance added within the postseason ranks tenth all time.

Correa has been simply as clutch. His profession 2.6 WPA places him fifth all time. His homer moved him previous Pujols into fifth all time with 55 postseason RBIs and right into a tie with Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Nelson Cruz for the seventh-most dwelling runs with 18.

These two are making their sixth journey to the postseason collectively and delivering extra thrills to Houston followers. Additionally they confirmed in Sport 1 that, so far as Boston pitching is worried, they would be the two bats to beat on this sequence.

Chris Sale labors once more

Sale has been one of many league’s best pitchers all through his profession, and that remained true towards the top of the 2021 common season as he was getting back from Tommy John surgical procedure that value him the 2020 season and most of this previous season.

However he has not been himself within the playoffs.

In his first postseason begin, he lasted only one inning as he gave up 5 runs — 4 approaching a grand slam — on 4 hits and a stroll with two strikeouts towards the Rays.

He did not fare significantly better Friday. Sale was eliminated within the third inning with runners on first and second and two out. Reliever Adam Ottavino bailed him out by recording the ultimate out of the inning to take care of Boston’s 3-1 lead.

MORE: How Sox’s Alex Cora was involved in Astros’ sign-stealing scandal

Sale once more did not have any points with walks (only one free go), however he gave up 5 hits and struck out solely two to go with the one run allowed. 5 batted balls towards him had been thought-about “exhausting hits” (exit velocity of 95 mph or increased), according to Baseball Savant.

A part of his points stem from his pitch combine. Sale has by no means had a dominant changeup, however it has been particularly unhealthy this season. Batters slugged .667 towards the pitch throughout the common season, and he all however eradicated it from his repertoire within the first two postseason video games after throwing it over 20 % throughout the common season and almost that fee for his profession. He used it as soon as towards the Rays and solely 4 occasions towards the Astros.

The result’s that batters have develop into higher at anticipating what he’ll throw subsequent. Whereas his slider whiff fee was 33 % towards Houston, proper on tempo together with his 32 % clip from the common season, batters got here up empty on the fastball solely 16 % of the time, effectively under the 27.5 % from the common season, according to Baseball Savant.

Even together with his slider, he wasn’t getting the varieties of chases out of the zone he’s usually used to. Sale has predominantly targeted that pitch down and in to right-handed batters — away from lefties — and located his spot with it. However of the 13 sliders outdoors the zone Friday, solely two had been whiffed on whereas two had been put in play for hits.

If he will get again to being the Sox’s ace, he will have to get his deception again.


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