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The Houston Astros are en route to the postseason for the sixth straight year and the seventh time in eight seasons.
The Astros clinched when the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles earlier on Friday night, but the Astros still had their own game to take care of in Minute Maid Park (they beat the A’s 5-0, by the way).
And Yordan Alvarez sure knows how to celebrate.
The Astros slugger belted a home run in each of his first three at-bats, including a 464-foot blast in his third. Alvarez now has 36 home runs tied for the third-most in baseball behind Aaron Judge (57) and Kyle Schwarber (38).
Each of his homers went at least 430 feet. According to ESPN, he’s the first person with three such home runs since 2019. He singled in his fourth.
The Astros have played in five straight American League Championship Series, making the World Series in 2017, 2019, and 2021. They took it home in 2017, but that season is when they were found guilty of perhaps the biggest sign-stealing scandal in the history of baseball.
Nonetheless, Houston has been able to impressively produce homegrown talent and compete every season, even while some of their biggest stars like Gerrit Cole, George Springer, and Carlos Correa have found new homes in recent years.
Friday also marked the return of Justin Verlander, who had been on the IL with a right calf injury since Aug. 30 – and he was vintage Verlander.
He threw five innings of no-hit ball while walking one and striking out nine before being pulled due to a pitch limit off the injury. He lowered his MLB-leading ERA to 1.78, further putting him way ahead in the Cy Young Award argument.
It would be the third award for the 39-year-old in perhaps his best season, despite pitching just one inning in 2020 and missing all of last year due to Tommy John surgery.
With another win, he would become the 11th pitcher in MLB history to win three Cy Young Awards.
The Astros will likely clinch the AL West at some point next week and will likely have home field advantage throughout the American League postseason.