Sunday, June 26, 2022

Astros HR return Framber Valdez’s first career full game in series opener vs A’S

Oakland, Calif. – So much of the Astros’ offense this season has been about power over lack of consistency. The Astros hit more than all home runs (63) except for three other major league clubs, although there have been 35 with none on base. Houston, batting on Monday, entered the scoring position with .241 runners and an average of 4.025 runs per game.

Perhaps no one on Houston’s roster represents the trend better than Yordan Alvarez. The slugger is known for his raw power, but hit .244 with .775 OPS in his first 45 at-bats with runners in the scoring position. He reached Oakland amid a game-winning RBI single and a 10-game home run drought in Seattle.

The dam broke in the fourth innings of that timeless game. With one out and none on, Alvarez closed the pitch 3-1 in the upper deck in right field. It left his bat traveling 113.9 mph and flying 469 feet, the most distant home run hit by an Astros player this season and tied for the third-farthest of all major leaguers. It was also the longest homer of Alvarez’s career, bettering his moonshot by 22 feet in Toronto last month. A’s right fielder Ramon Loreno didn’t even bother to turn his head to follow the ball’s trajectory.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ball hit there,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

“The count was 3-1 so I wanted to swing a big one,” Alvarez said. “And when I hit it, I saw it went too far. But I think I can push it further.”

Astros Insider: Framber Valdez’s ‘inspired’ season continues with full game

Oakland starter Paul Blackburn had allowed a home run in his nine starts before Monday. The Astros tagged them for two of their three home runs in a 5–1 victory, with Houston scoring a total of three in the three-match series loss to Seattle.

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lvarez wrote his second singles single homer in the eighth inning, his third multiple-homer game this season. He is second among all MLB players with 14 home runs. Jose Altuve’s two-run shot tied him with George Springer for the fifth-highest career home runs in Astros franchise history (174).

A Framber was hitless for five innings against Valdez. The Astros Southpaw played his first career nine-innings full game on 114 pitches, hitting one run, two hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.

Valdez remained steadfast even after Kevin Smith spoiled his no-hit bid with a lead-off double in the sixth inning. Ramon Loreno put Oakland on the board with an RBI ground-ball single in the middle, although Valdez was able to induce a double play to end the frame.

The Astros ruined Jose Siri’s leadoff triple in the third inning, but still managed to give Valdez a four-run lead in the next two. An innings after Alvarez’s first home run, Siri collided with a pitch and stole second base. After flicking his pants, he jogged from place to place as if to further demonstrate the fast-twitch pace that had been his best asset.

When Martin Maldonado lined up a single in left field, Siri easily raced home to lead Houston 2-0. Altuve scored the first pitch home run over the wall in right-center field to double the lead.

Altuve’s next bat will be his last. On a two-out base hit in the seventh inning, Altuve had a frightening collision with AA first baseman Christian Bethancourt while running to take advantage of a poor throw by Chad Pinder. After consultation with coaches, both players remained in the game for the rest of the innings, but Mauricio Dubon replaced Altuve at second base for Houston in the eighth inning.

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Baker said after the game that Altuve was being evaluated by doctors. The manager drew two lineup cards for Tuesday’s game, one with Altuve and one without.

“You’re always worried about concussion protocol,” Baker said. “When he came back to the dugout, he didn’t look great in the eye, so hopefully he’ll be fine. He’s a strong young man. But he also hit a strong young man.”

When Alvarez reached the plate in the eighth inning, A had swapped Blackburn for reliever AJ Puck. it did not matter. Alvarez added another solo home run on the full-count pitch, hitting low, but toward the exact same spot as his earlier blast, to drive Pook off the mound.

While Alvarez’s second dinger didn’t match the monstrosity that was his first, he struck an eye in the home run of 913 feet at the Coliseum on Monday.

Alvarez declined to say that he was impressed by his power. After his big bang of the fourth inning, Altuve came out to greet him at home plate while the other Astros waited atop the dugout stairs. Aledmys Díaz was not one of them.

“Diaz didn’t even want to congratulate me when we got back because he’s no longer surprised that I do,” Alvarez laughed.

And just as the A’s outfielders didn’t see where the home run ball landed, neither did Alvarez.

“Sometimes I’d like to do that,” he said, “but I also want to step on bases, so I’d love to do that.”

Nation World News Desk
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