Yordan Alvarez hits 3 HRs, Justin Verlander K’s 9 in return as Houston Astros clinch playoff berth with win over Oakland Athletics
Ace Justin Verlander had just wrapped up another strong start and was in the dugout in the fifth inning when Yordan Alvarez launched his third spectacular home run of the night for the Houston Astros.
The cameras panned to Verlander, eyes wide as he admired his teammate’s handiwork.
“It’s pretty cool when a major league player can make other major league players be in awe,” Verlander said. “It’s not something that happens all too often. And that was kind of one of those moments where everybody is just like: ‘My goodness.’ It’s just incredible what he’s able to do.”
Alvarez homered in his first three at-bats, Verlander threw five hitless innings in his return from the injured list and the Astros clinched a postseason berth with a 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
The Astros (95-50) won their sixth straight game to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as the first two teams to secure playoff spots, reaching their sixth straight postseason.
There was no big celebration for this team with much bigger goals, but the Astros did share a quiet toast in the clubhouse postgame.
“You’ve got to keep in perspective … how hard it is to get to the playoffs and to stay on top like this for a while,” Verlander said. “It’s not easy. So I’m glad we were able to take a moment.”
Alvarez, tied for second in the AL with a career-high 36 home runs, had solo shots off Adrian Martinez in the first, third and fifth innings. He capped his big night with a single in the seventh to tie his career high with four hits.
“Hitting one home run feels great, imagine hitting three,” Alvarez said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Just a very special night.”