WASHINGTON -- As expected, the Astros had designated hitter Yordan Alvarez in the lineup in left field for Game 5 of the World Series against the Nationals on Sunday night. The few times Alvarez has played in the outfield in a National League park in the regular season usually came with Gerrit Cole or Wade Miley on the mound.
Cole, who starts Game 5 for Houston, is a fly-ball pitcher, but he gets a lot of strikeouts, so there aren’t as many balls put in play. He struck out nearly 40 percent of the batters he faced in the regular season. Miley, who didn’t make the playoff roster, is a ground-ball pitcher.
“Coming into this game, I didn't want to go three games without having [Alvarez's] bat in the lineup for multiple at-bats,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “I knew I had to pinch-hit a bat a couple of times, and I've used it the last two days. Factor in Gerrit being on the mound and then when Max [Scherzer] was going to start, he put up two really good at-bats against Scherzer in Game 1. So there was a dual reason for that.”
Scherzer was scratched from his Game 5 start due to back and neck spasms, but Hinch didn’t alter his lineup once he found out Joe Ross would pitch in Scherzer's place. Hinch said Alvarez has taken fly balls at Nationals Park the last couple of days and is capable of making the routine plays. He said Alvarez is not a liability in the outfield.
“If he can help us get the lead, I'll probably get him out of there with either Jake [Marisnick] or [Josh Reddick] or [Kyle] Tucker,” Hinch said. “I can steal a couple at-bats. If we put up the bats we put up yesterday, his third at-bat might happen in the middle of the game. That would be a great advantage to get two or three at-bats of his.”
Espada to meet again with Giants
Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who interviewed for the vacant managerial opening with the Giants on Thursday in San Francisco, will have a second interview once the World Series is over, he said Sunday. Espada had previously interviewed for the Cubs' managerial job that went to David Ross.
Espada traveled to San Francisco prior to Game 3 of the World Series in Washington and met for four hours at Oracle Park with Giants CEO Larry Baer, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and others.
“Farhan and his group have a pretty good structure over there,” Espada said. “They have a bunch of smart people. It sounds like their vision is pretty good, and they’ve got some big plans.”
Espada interviewed for a handful of managerial jobs last year before he returned to Houston for his second season under Hinch. He says he’s much better equipped to be a manager now than he was last year.
“I have a pretty good idea of my style and my philosophy, and building a team culture and stuff like that,” Espada said. “That’s what is important now. It’s about people and connections with players, and that’s something I spent a lot of time doing the last couple of years.”
Espada took over as bench coach for Alex Cora less than a week after the Astros won the World Series in 2017, when Cora left for the Red Sox. Espada came to the Astros after four years with the Yankees organization ('14-17), serving the last three as third-base coach. He was previously a professional scout for the Yanks.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Espada had an eight-year run with the Marlins (2006-13), topping out as their third-base coach for four seasons from '10-13. He also served as the Marlins’ Minor League infield coordinator ('08-09) and as a hitting coach for Class A Advanced Jupiter ('07) and Class A Greensboro ('06).