Division Series action began with a pair of American League showdowns on Thursday, and there was no shortage of fantastic postseason feats.First, the hard-hitting Astros got three Jose Altuve home runs and a solid Justin Verlander outing, beating Chris Sale and the Red Sox, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park.• Postseason
Division Series action began with a pair of American League showdowns on Thursday, and there was no shortage of fantastic postseason feats.
First, the hard-hitting Astros got three Jose Altuve home runs and a solid Justin Verlander outing, beating Chris Sale and the Red Sox, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park.
• Postseason schedule
The Indians followed that up with a masterful evening on the mound, shutting out the Yankees, 4-0, at Progressive Field behind the dominant trio of Trevor Bauer, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
Here are some notable facts and figures from Thursday:
The amazing Altuve
• The story of Game 1 in Houston was Altuve, who became just the ninth player (10th total occurrence) to hit three home runs in a postseason game. The last to do so was Pablo Sandoval in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series for the Giants, and two of those came off Verlander, the Astros' starter on Thursday.
Altuve joins Adam Kennedy (Game 5, 2002 AL Championship Series for the Angels) as the only second basemen to homer three times in a postseason game and Adrian Beltre (Game 4 of 2011 ALDS for the Rangers) as the only players to achieve the feat in a Division Series matchup.
• The average height of the previous eight players who had homered three times in a postseason game was a hair over six feet -- a full six inches taller than Altuve's listed height of 5-foot-6.
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• Altuve's first homer, in the opening frame, came off a 97.3-mph fastball from Sale, according to Statcast™, the fastest pitch Altuve has taken deep in his career. His second, in the fifth, came off a 95.6-mph heater from the Red Sox's starter. Previously, Altuve had homered a total of three times off pitches of 95 mph or faster.
• That second big fly also had an exit velocity of 108.5 mph. It was the second-hardest homer Altuve has hit since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015, as well as his hardest-hit base hit of '17.
'Stros stun Sale
• When Alex Bregman and Altuve launched back-to-back home runs with one out in the first, it marked just the second time Sale had allowed multiple homers in the opening inning of a game in his career. Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez of the Tigers also accomplished the feat on Aug. 30, 2014, when Sale was with the White Sox. The lefty also allowed one first-inning homer this season.
• Incredibly, both homers came in at-bats Sale began by getting ahead in the count 0-2. The southpaw only allowed two homers in those situations all season, with opponents posting an .088/.099/.130 line in 243 plate appearances, with three walks and 154 strikeouts.
The Astros totaled four extra-base hits off Sale with two strikes, which is the highest such total of extra-base hits the lefty has allowed in a start.
• Game 1 of the ALDS marked the eighth time Sale has surrendered three home runs in a start during his career, but three of those eight instances have come since Sept. 3. He gave up three homers against the Yankees that day and four against the Blue Jays on Sept. 26. Prior to that, Sale had gone 41 consecutive starts without giving up three or more homers.
• Bauer was sensational in Game 1 for the Tribe, setting an Indians record for the longest postseason no-hit bid in franchise history, at 5 1/3 innings. The righty finished with eight strikeouts, along with 19 called strikes -- including eight on his curveball.
• According to the YES Network, Bauer's 5 1/3 innings also matched the longest postseason no-hit bid recorded against the Yankees, tying Paul Abbott in Game 4 of the 2001 ALCS and Max Scherzer in Game 2 of the 2011 ALDS.
• Bauer recorded nearly as many outs (20) as all four Wild Card Game starting pitchers combined (22), while striking out more than twice as many batters (8 to 3).
Tribe staff stellar again
• It's fitting that the Indians authored the first team shutout of the postseason. Cleveland led the Majors with 19 during the regular season. No other AL club posted more than 11.
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• There were 10 shutouts in the 2016 playoffs, including five by the Indians -- one in the ALDS vs. the Red Sox, two in the ALCS vs. the Blue Jays and two in the World Series vs. the Cubs. In other words, Cleveland now has thrown more postseason shutouts since '16 (six) than everyone else combined (five).
• Ace reliever Miller issued two walks Thursday -- nearly half the total (five) he issued during his virtuoso performance during the 2016 postseason. But he also struck out three Yankees, giving him 43 career postseason strikeouts as a reliever in just 16 appearances. That already ranks as the 10th-most career postseason strikeouts recorded by any reliever in history.
Yanks experience Bauer outage
• After homering in the AL Wild Card Game, Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and three runners left on base in this one. He is the 10th Yankees player to strike out at least four times in the postseason and the fifth to do so while also striking out in every at-bat. Johnny Damon was the last to do so, in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS, and before that it was Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle in Game 3 of the 1953 World Series.
• Yankees pitchers combined to throw four wild pitches Thursday -- two by Jaime Garcia, one by Sonny Gray, and one by Adam Warren -- marking only the second time in history a team has tossed that many in a postseason game. The other occurrence came in Game 1 of the 2000 National League Division Series, when the Cardinals threw five wild pitches, all by Rick Ankiel, but still defeated the Braves, 7-5.
• There already have been six first-inning homers this postseason. There were seven throughout the 2016 playoffs. While the '15 postseason had 15 such dingers, there were just six in '14, two in '13 and five in '12, the first year of the two-Wild Card format.
• What does winning Game 1 of a Division Series mean? It's certainly a big advantage, as Game 1 winners have gone 66-26, including 52-20 in the current 2-2-1 format. In 2016, all four Game 1 winners took the series, but three of the four lost in '15.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.