Astros rally past Athletics in ALDS opener

Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in four, Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead, two-run single during Houston’s four-run sixth inning and the Astros rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 10-5 in the opener of their AL Division Series on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

George Springer, MVP of the 2017 World Series, had four hits for Houston.

The Astros rallied with two outs in the sixth against Oakland’s vaunted bullpen to take control of Major League Baseball’s first neutral-site postseason game resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Houston pounded out 16 hits in all as the A’s ran through eight pitchers.

The teams combined for six home runs in daytime conditions that were ripe for the ball to carry at the stadium where the Dodgers hit a major league-leading 118 homers. The temperature was 32 C at game time under sunny skies and with little breeze, although tricky shadows crept toward the mound during the final innings. The entire best-of-five series will be played during the day. At night, the air is cooler and often thicker, an environment less favourable to hitters.

Houston’s hitters hadn’t looked quite the same this year, the first since their sign-stealing scheme was unveiled. Altuve, Correa and others slumped during the regular season, and the team hit a combined .194 during a two-game sweep of Minnesota in the wild-card round.

“You can’t judge this offence by 60 games,” Correa said.

The Astros’ swagger emerged at the same ballpark where they beat the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series in seven games, helped by their sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball and drew the ire of rival players and fans.

After two quick outs in the sixth, Houston’s Josh Reddick reached when shortstop Marcus Semien booted a grounder for a costly error that allowed the Astros to extend the inning.

Martin Maldonado followed with a single. Springer doubled to shallow left for his 25th career post-season extra-base hit in the leadoff spot, moving past Derek Jeter for most ever, according to Stats Perform. The ball zinged down the third-base line past a diving Chad Pinder, pulling Houston to 5-4.

Altuve’s line-drive single to left scored Maldonado and Springer to put the Astros back in front, 6-5. Altuve moved up on the throw home and scored on Michael Brantley’s single to right.

Correa’s second home run — a blast to centre in the seventh — had Ramon Laureano climbing the wall in pursuit. His spikes dug a hole in the wall covering as the Astros led 8-5.

Houston added two runs in the ninth on Correa’s RBI single and Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly.

Blake Taylor got the victory with one inning of relief. J.B. Wendelken took the loss, allowing four runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

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