Alvarez's all-around showing guides Astros

October 8th, 2021

HOUSTON -- In a lineup full of big bats and postseason experience, 24-year-old outfielder proved to be one of the most important on Thursday as the Astros took Game 1 of the American League Division Series, 6-1, over the White Sox at Minute Maid Park.

Slotting in at designated hitter, Alvarez delivered a 2-for-3 performance with a walk. He smashed an RBI double in the third inning to extend Houston’s lead to 3-0, and he launched a 411-foot solo homer into the bullpen in right field to blow the game open at the start of the fifth.

It was the fourth multihit game in 19 career postseason contests for Alvarez. Coming into Thursday, he was hitting just .241 in the postseason, all from his only other foray into October in 2019. But he has shown up when it mattered.

“I think everybody knows what purpose we came with today, and that's to win the game,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I think that's what we did. We were able to accomplish it, and tomorrow we're going to come out with the same attitude.”

The Astros only had three extra-base hits in the win, two of which came from Alvarez.

Manager Dusty Baker added that Alvarez’s baserunning was “outstanding,” pointing to him tagging up on a fly ball to right field in the second inning. Alvarez would then score from third base on a Jake Meyers single for the Astros’ first run of the game.

“The little things are like stacking pennies,” Baker said. “You do little things, and it adds up to big things. We picked up some runners. Outstanding baserunning by Yordan Alvarez to attack up from second, to go to third. Those are the little things that, if you don't do [them], it usually comes back to haunt you. All of these games are going to be close. [The White Sox] aren't ever going to concede.”

Despite only having 18 games of postseason experience prior to Thursday’s win, Alvarez has been vital to the Astros’ success this season. He hit .277 with a .877 OPS over a career-high 144 games in 2021. Outfielder Michael Brantley noted that multiple players, including Alvarez, stepped up this season to fill the void left by George Springer, who joined the Blue Jays in free agency last winter.

Alvarez made his MLB debut in 2019, but he missed all but two games of the ‘20 regular season and didn’t appear in the postseason, when the Astros fell to the Rays in seven games in the AL Championship Series.

Baker, who took over as Astros manager ahead of that 2020 season, said he didn’t even know what he had in Alvarez until he saw it firsthand.

“That's a huge bat,” Baker said. “I thought many times over the winter what it would have been like to have Yordan in there. But nobody is going to give me any sympathy for a player that's hurt, especially a key player like that.

“He is in the middle of our lineup. We don't know when he's going to leave the yard, and you know he's going to drive in some big runs. So, yeah, life wasn't too pleasant last year without Yordan. He came back for two games. The first game back, he hit a homer. I was envisioning what it would be like to have him back, and then he got hurt, and he was out the rest of the year. So I'm very thankful to have him back.”