Alvarez 3-run HR caps Astros comeback, 8-7 win over Mariners

  • Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, left, celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run, walkoff home run against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning in Game 1 of an American League Division Series baseball game in Houston,Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Yordan Alvarez wrecked all of Seattle’s carefully crafted strategy with one colossal swing.

The Mariners came to the postseason with a plan. Down to their last out, the October-tested Houston Astros weren’t so easily outmatched.

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Alvarez smashed a game-ending, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Robbie Ray, foiling the Mariners’ move to use a Cy Young Award winner in a rare relief role and vaulting the Astros to an 8-7 win Tuesday in their playoff opener.

“It was something going into the series where we were at, looking at our rotation, where we were going to head, and talking with Robbie about using him out of the bullpen as a bullet, so to speak, for that type of scenario,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “You know, bringing in a lefty against Alvarez, although Alvarez is one of the better hitters in the league.”

“But we talked about it coming into the series. We talked about it pregame today. I looked at it in the seventh inning and said, hey, this could happen. So that was the plan going in,” he said.

Houston skipper Dusty Baker, who managed Servais while with the Giants, refused to second-guess his former player.

“If he gets him out, then it looks great … next time Robbie Ray could win, but today we won,” Baker said.

Trailing all game after a poor start by Justin Verlander, the AL West champion Astros overtook rookie star Julio Rodríguez and the wild-card Mariners at the end to begin their best-of-five Division Series.

The Astros had been 0-48 in their postseason history when trailing by more than a run after eight innings until Alvarez homered deep into the seats to overcome a 7-5 deficit.

With his Cuban parents in the stands, too.

“I think it’s one of the most special moments that I’ve had in my career, having them there, and even for just the city of Houston,” Alvarez said through a translator. “They know that we’re a team that never gives up.”

• • •

DODGERS 5, PADRES 3

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trea Turner homered and doubled as Los Angeles started fast and held off San Diego Padres in their NL Division Series opener.

Behind 17-game winner Julio Urías, the Dodgers raced to an early 5-0 lead and appeared to be on their way to another blowout of the Padres.

Los Angeles dominated in the regular season, owning a 14-5 advantage and outscoring San Diego 109-47. The 111-win Dodgers claimed the NL West and the Padres finished second, 22 games back.

With Sandy Koufax watching from the owners’ box, Urías retired the first eight batters he faced until Austin Nola doubled with two outs in the third.

Chris Martin, who had two saves this season, pitched the ninth for the save. Struggling closer Craig Kimbrel was left off the Dodgers’ roster for this best-of-five matchup.

Game 2 is Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium before the series shifts south to San Diego.

• • •

YANKEES 4, GUARDIANS 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole cruised for most of the night, Harrison Bader and Anthony Rizzo homered and New York beat Cleveland in the teams’ AL Division Series opener.

The Yankees have won six straight postseason games against Cleveland, dating to a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the 2017 Division Series.

Cole got the win in his first postseason game for the Yankees in the Bronx. He left after giving up one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts. Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes finished with two-hit relief to begin the best-of-five matchup.

Coming off a two-game sweep of Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, Cleveland struck out nine times, after having the fewest in the major leagues during the regular season.

Jose Trevino hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth after Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a single into the right-field corner and wild-card series star Oscar Gonzalez allowed the ball to bounce throw his legs for a two-base error.

Rizzo chased Cal Quantrill with a drive into the right-field second desk in the sixth after Aaron Judge walked.

Quantrill lost for the first time since July 5. He gave up four runs — three earned — four hits and three walks in five-plus innings.

• • •

PHILLIES 7, BRAVES 6

ATLANTA (AP) — Nick Castellanos drove in three runs and made a potentially game-saving catch in the ninth inning, lifting Philadelphia over reigning World Series champion Atlanta in the opener of their NL Division Series.

Game 2 is Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta before the series shifts to Philly.

The Phillies have won three straight games to begin these playoffs, following up their wild-card sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a victory over the team that finished 14 games ahead of them in the NL East.

Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Zach Eflin to bring the Braves within a run. Castellanos capped off a brilliant day with his bat and his glove, making a sliding catch in right field for help snuff out the comeback.

Alec Bohm added two RBIs for the Phillies, who built a 7-1 lead by the top of the fifth. Travis d’Arnaud homered and drove in the other three Atlanta runs.

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