'Video game stuff': Yordan homers twice, hits grand slam in 8th straight win

Astros hit a season-high five home runs as they crush Brewers in series opener

May 23rd, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- When Astros slugger comes to the plate with the bases loaded -- or really in any situation with the game on the line -- there’s not an opposing pitcher, a certain pitch or really any kind of strategy that would make the other team feel good about what’s about to happen.

There was no greater example of that than last year’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series when Alvarez crushed an 0-1 pitch from Seattle’s Robbie Ray -- a lefty starter who had been inserted into the game -- for a stunning walk-off homer that swung the momentum of a series the Astros eventually swept on their way to a World Series title.

So when the Brewers called upon lefty reliever Hoby Milner to face Alvarez with the bases loaded in the sixth inning Monday night at American Family Field, everyone in the Astros' dugout was thinking the same thing, whether they wanted to admit it or not.

“What now?” second baseman said. “What are they going to do now?”

Alvarez drilled Milner’s first pitch over the left-center-field wall for a grand slam -- his second homer of the game -- to cap the Astros’ season-high five-homer outburst in a 12-2 win over the Brewers. The Astros have won eight consecutive games and 11 of their last 12.

“I mean, he's one of the best hitters in the league,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ”I don't care what pitcher we're putting in there. It's a challenge for anybody.

Alvarez went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and three runs scored. It was his 14th career multihomer game -- tied with George Springer for fifth-most in Astros history. He hit a solo homer in the fifth, giving him homers in consecutive innings for the second time in his career.

“I just felt very comfortable at the batter’s box today,” said Alvarez, who has 46 RBIs in 41 games this year. “I think when I get to the stadium and I feel comfortable in the batter’s box, good things can happen. I was seeing the ball really well and that’s what can happen.”

The Astros, who also got solo homers from , and Dubón, have won eight consecutive games for the seventh consecutive season. They join the 1968-74 Orioles, 1997-04 Giants, and 2000-06 A’s as the only teams to accomplish that feat in the last 75 years.

Julks and Maldonado hit solo homers in the second off Brewers starter Corbin Burnes, and Dubón and Alvarez tagged him for solo homers in the fifth for a 5-1 Houston lead. Astros starter (5-1) gave up one run in six innings to lower his ERA to 3.07 through 10 starts.

“We were due for one of those,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We had a big offensive output and hit some balls out of the ballpark, which we hadn’t been doing much. Almost everybody got in on the act, and it was a good offensive night for us, and Javi gave us what we needed.”

In 59 at-bats this year against left-handed pitching, Alvarez is slashing .339/.379/.678 with four homers and 21 RBIs. In 92 at-bats against right-handers, he’s slashing .283/.411/.576 with eight homers and 25 RBIs. The grand slam had a 102.7 mph exit velocity.

“It’s just video game stuff,” said Dubón, who homered for the first time in 2023. “He just keeps proving and proving he’s the best hitter in the league, and he’s humble about it, too. Watching him go about his business every day, it’s unreal. He hit two balls 110 [mph] and I think even his outs were loud. Like I said before, he’s the best hitter in the game.”

Baker, whose 2,121 wins are the ninth-most in baseball history, said there’s nothing much Counsell could have done differently against Alvarez in the sixth inning. The Brewers went with the lefty-on-lefty matchup, but that means nothing to Alvarez.

“If he leaves the right-hander in there, he gives it up, and they're going to say, ‘How come you didn't bring in a left-hander?’” Baker said. “The more left-handers they see, the better they get accustomed to seeing them. Big fella, he can just hit. He can really hit. He’s one the best hitters in this game and one of the best I’ve seen.”