Springer, Astros hit 4 HRs, down Indians 7-2 in ALDS opener

HOUSTON (AP) It's October and George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are all hitting home runs once again, helping the Houston Astros to a postseason win.

A year after launching a World Series-record 15 homers in winning their first championship, the Astros picked up right where they left off, hitting four home runs to power past the Cleveland Indians 7-2 Friday in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

Martin Maldonado also connected for the Astros, who didn't waste any time displaying the same power that carried them to last year's title.

Much was made about the pitching prowess these teams possess in the days leading up to this game. But it was a bunch of longballs to put the Astros ahead in this best-of-five series.

''As much as I've heard different opinions about our offense, it's pretty long, it's pretty good, it's pretty potent,'' manager AJ Hinch said. ''Case in point today.''

Houston's pop backed up a solid start by Justin Verlander, who bested Corey Kluber in a matchup of Cy Young Award-winning aces in the first postseason meeting between these teams.

Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and got his 12th playoff win. He allowed two hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings - the Indians finished with only three hits, all singles.

Kluber, a two-time Cy Young winner who was coming off his first 20-win season, was tagged for three home runs in 4 2/3 innings. It was a repeat performance from last October's ALDS, when he made two starts against the Yankees and left with a 12.79 ERA.

Game 2 is Saturday in Houston. Gerrit Cole starts for the Astros against Carlos Carrasco.

The Astros hit 27 homers last postseason - Springer hit five in the World Series and set a record by connecting in four straight games on his way to winning the MVP award.

Bregman, coming off a breakout year, got Houston's first hit with his drive to the Crawford Boxes in left field to start a two-run fourth inning.

''The only thing I can say about him is without him we wouldn't be here,'' Altuve said.

The 103-win Astros were still up 2-0 when Springer led off the fifth with a full-count homer to left. That made him just the third player in major league history to homer in five straight postseason games.

''I'm happy that I was able to help us win in all of those games and be a sparkplug,'' Springer said.

Two pitches later Altuve, last year's AL MVP, connected for his eighth career postseason homer when he also sent one to left field. He began last year's playoffs with three home runs in the ALDS opener against Boston.

Kluber watched stone-faced as Altuve headed for first and shook his head slightly as he rounded the bases and the crowd roared with scattered chants of ''MVP.''

Kluber followed up his splendid regular season with another playoff dud. A year after giving up four homers in two starts against the Yankees, the longball again proved to be a problem for him. He left with two outs in the fifth inning after allowing six hits and four runs while walking three.

''Last year has nothing to do with today,'' Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. ''They're a good team. He made a couple mistakes. They made him pay for it.''

Verlander was masterful through the first five innings, with Cleveland's only baserunner in that span coming on a walk to Jose Ramirez with two outs in the first. The Houston right-hander set down 13 in a row after that, fanning seven, including striking out the side in the third.

Yan Gomes broke up the no-hitter with his single to shallow right field to start the sixth and Francisco Lindor singled with one out in the inning. When Verlander walked Michael Brantley to load the bases after that, Hinch had seen enough and replaced him with Ryan Pressly.

The Indians cut the lead to 4-1 on a wild pitch by Pressly, who came to Houston in a July trade, and got within two when Lindor scored on a groundout by Ramirez.

Maldonado, making his playoff debut, connected off Cody Allen for a two-out homer in the seventh. Bregman made it 6-2 with an RBI single later in the inning.

UNHAPPY HECTOR

Houston reliever Hector Rondon, who Hinch said was ''very upset'' about not making the ALDS roster, did not come onto the field when he was introduced with the team's reserves before the game. He also was not on the field during the national anthem, but did join the team in the dugout for the game.

Rondon, signed by the Astros to a two-year deal in the offseason, was left off the roster in favor of hard-throwing rookie Josh James because of his ability to throw multiple innings.

Hinch said Rondon could be used in the ALCS if the Astros advance. Rondon was 2-5 with 15 saves and a 3.20 ERA in 63 games.

FOR STARTERS

In a season where openers and using multiple relievers instead of defined starters has become popular, Verlander believes that true starters like him remain very important to the game.

''I think you need it,'' he said. ''I think the more relievers get used every single day, it has an effect ... I don't have the answers. But I do believe in innings. I believe in protecting the bullpen. And I believe in a starting pitcher.''

UP NEXT

Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA) ranked second in the AL with 276 strikeouts this season, only trailing Verlander's 290, and was fifth with 200 1/3 innings pitched. He will be making his fourth playoff start and first since 2015 with the Pirates. He is 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA in those games.

It will be just the second career postseason start for Carrasco (17-10, 3.38), who is 4-2 with a 3.45 ERA in eight appearances, with seven starts against Houston.

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123456789RHE
CLE0-1
000002000230
HOU1-0
00022021X7120
  • W: J. Verlander (1-0)L: C. Kluber (0-1)
  • HR: HOU - M. Maldonado (1), J. Altuve (1), G. Springer (1), A. Bregman (1)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
F. Lindor SS41100010.250.250.250.5001.5
M. Brantley LF30100100.333.500.333.8332.0
J. Ramirez 2B30010112.000.250.000.2501.5
E. Encarnacion DH40000013.000.000.000.000-0.5
J. Donaldson 3B40000011.000.000.000.000-0.5
Y. Alonso 1B30000030.000.000.000.000-1.5
M. Cabrera RF30000000.000.000.000.0000.0
Y. Gomes C31100010.333.333.333.6671.5
J. Kipnis CF30000021.000.000.000.000-1.0
    HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
    G. Springer CF-RF42211000.500.5001.2501.7508.0
    J. Altuve 2B41111001.250.2501.0001.2506.0
    A. Bregman 3B31221100.667.7501.6672.4179.0
    Y. Gurriel 1B31100101.333.500.6671.1674.0
    M. Gonzalez LF30100012.333.500.333.8330.5
    J. Marisnick CF00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
    C. Correa SS40000012.000.000.000.000-0.5
    T. White DH30200000.667.7501.0001.7504.0
    M. Straw PR-DH01000000.000.000.000.0001.0
    J. Reddick RF-LF40220002.500.500.5001.0004.0
    M. Maldonado C41111013.250.2501.0001.2505.5
      BATTING
      • RBI - J. Ramirez
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - E. Encarnacion 2 (2), J. Donaldson
      BATTING
      • 2B - Y. Gurriel, T. White
      • HR - G. Springer, J. Altuve, A. Bregman, M. Maldonado
      • RBI - G. Springer, J. Altuve, A. Bregman 2 (2), J. Reddick 2 (2), M. Maldonado
      • 2-Out RBI - J. Reddick
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - Y. Gurriel, M. Gonzalez, M. Maldonado 2 (2)
      BASERUNNING
      • CS - M. Gonzalez
      FIELDING
      • Outfield Assist - M. Brantley
      • DP - 2 (Lindor-Alonso; Lindor-Ramirez-Alonso)
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      C. Kluber (L, 0-1)4.26442237.711.71-4.0
      A. Cimber1.00000000.000.003.0
      C. Allen0.122200154.006.00-4.0
      T. Bauer1.02000100.002.001.5
      D. Otero1.02110009.002.000.0
      PITCHERSIP
      C. Kluber (L, 0-1)4.2
      A. Cimber1.0
      C. Allen0.1
      T. Bauer1.0
      D. Otero1.0
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      J. Verlander (W, 1-0)5.12222703.380.7519.5
      R. Pressly (H, 1)1.20000200.000.004.0
      L. McCullers1.00000000.000.003.0
      R. Osuna1.01000100.001.002.5
      PITCHERSIP
      J. Verlander (W, 1-0)5.1
      R. Pressly (H, 1)1.2
      L. McCullers1.0
      R. Osuna1.0
      PITCHING
      • HBP - C. Kluber 2 (2)
      • Pitches-Strikes - C. Kluber 87-53, A. Cimber 11-7, C. Allen 17-11, T. Bauer 16-9, D. Otero 13-8
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C. Kluber 6-5, T. Bauer 1-0, D. Otero 2-0
      • Batters Faced - C. Kluber 23, A. Cimber 2, C. Allen 3, T. Bauer 4, D. Otero 4
      PITCHING
      • WP - R. Pressly
      • Pitches-Strikes - J. Verlander 102-70, R. Pressly 22-19, L. McCullers 11-8, R. Osuna 15-11
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Verlander 4-5, R. Pressly 2-1, L. McCullers 1-2, R. Osuna 1-1
      • Batters Faced - J. Verlander 20, R. Pressly 5, L. McCullers 3, R. Osuna 4
      PLAYERS OF THE GAME
      123456789RHE
      CLE0-1
      000002000230
      HOU1-0
      00022021X7120
      HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
      F. Lindor SS41100010.250.250.250.5001.5
      M. Brantley LF30100100.333.500.333.8332.0
      J. Ramirez 2B30010112.000.250.000.2501.5
      E. Encarnacion DH40000013.000.000.000.000-0.5
      J. Donaldson 3B40000011.000.000.000.000-0.5
      Y. Alonso 1B30000030.000.000.000.000-1.5
      M. Cabrera RF30000000.000.000.000.0000.0
      Y. Gomes C31100010.333.333.333.6671.5
      J. Kipnis CF30000021.000.000.000.000-1.0
      Total3023102107-----
        HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
        G. Springer CF-RF42211000.500.5001.2501.7508.0
        J. Altuve 2B41111001.250.2501.0001.2506.0
        A. Bregman 3B31221100.667.7501.6672.4179.0
        Y. Gurriel 1B31100101.333.500.6671.1674.0
        M. Gonzalez LF30100012.333.500.333.8330.5
        J. Marisnick CF00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
        C. Correa SS40000012.000.000.000.000-0.5
        T. White DH30200000.667.7501.0001.7504.0
        M. Straw PR-DH01000000.000.000.000.0001.0
        J. Reddick RF-LF40220002.500.500.5001.0004.0
        M. Maldonado C41111013.250.2501.0001.2505.5
        Total32712742311-----
          BATTING
          • RBI - J. Ramirez
          • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - E. Encarnacion 2 (2), J. Donaldson
          BATTING
          • 2B - Y. Gurriel, T. White
          • HR - G. Springer, J. Altuve, A. Bregman, M. Maldonado
          • RBI - G. Springer, J. Altuve, A. Bregman 2 (2), J. Reddick 2 (2), M. Maldonado
          • 2-Out RBI - J. Reddick
          • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - Y. Gurriel, M. Gonzalez, M. Maldonado 2 (2)
          BASERUNNING
          • CS - M. Gonzalez
          FIELDING
          • Outfield Assist - M. Brantley
          • DP - 2 (Lindor-Alonso; Lindor-Ramirez-Alonso)
          PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
          C. Kluber (L, 0-1)4.26442237.711.71-4.0
          A. Cimber1.00000000.000.003.0
          C. Allen0.122200154.006.00-4.0
          T. Bauer1.02000100.002.001.5
          D. Otero1.02110009.002.000.0
          Total8.01277234---
          PITCHERSIP
          C. Kluber (L, 0-1)4.2
          A. Cimber1.0
          C. Allen0.1
          T. Bauer1.0
          D. Otero1.0
          Total8.0
          PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
          J. Verlander (W, 1-0)5.12222703.380.7519.5
          R. Pressly (H, 1)1.20000200.000.004.0
          L. McCullers1.00000000.000.003.0
          R. Osuna1.01000100.001.002.5
          Total9.03222100---
          PITCHERSIP
          J. Verlander (W, 1-0)5.1
          R. Pressly (H, 1)1.2
          L. McCullers1.0
          R. Osuna1.0
          Total9.0
          PITCHING
          • HBP - C. Kluber 2 (2)
          • Pitches-Strikes - C. Kluber 87-53, A. Cimber 11-7, C. Allen 17-11, T. Bauer 16-9, D. Otero 13-8
          • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C. Kluber 6-5, T. Bauer 1-0, D. Otero 2-0
          • Batters Faced - C. Kluber 23, A. Cimber 2, C. Allen 3, T. Bauer 4, D. Otero 4
          PITCHING
          • WP - R. Pressly
          • Pitches-Strikes - J. Verlander 102-70, R. Pressly 22-19, L. McCullers 11-8, R. Osuna 15-11
          • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Verlander 4-5, R. Pressly 2-1, L. McCullers 1-2, R. Osuna 1-1
          • Batters Faced - J. Verlander 20, R. Pressly 5, L. McCullers 3, R. Osuna 4
          • 8TH INNING
            Reddick singled to center, Straw scored27
          • 7TH INNING
            Bregman singled to left, Springer scored, Bregman out at second26
            Maldonado homered to left25
          • 6TH INNING
            Ramirez grounded out to first, Lindor scored, Brantley to third24
            Gomes scored, Lindor to third, Brantley to second on wild pitch14
          • 5TH INNING
            Altuve homered to left04
            Springer homered to left center03
          • 4TH INNING
            Reddick singled to right, Gurriel scored, White to third02
            Bregman homered to left01
          • 9TH INNING
            • Roberto Osuna relieved Lance McCullers
            • M. Brantley: Foul, Ball, Brantley singled to right
            • J. Ramirez: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Ramirez struck out looking
            • E. Encarnacion: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Encarnacion flied out to deep right
            • J. Donaldson: Foul, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Donaldson grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, Brantley out at second
            • Middle of the 9th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
          • 8TH INNING
            • Jake Marisnick in center field
            • Lance McCullers relieved Ryan Pressly
            • Y. Gomes: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Gomes grounded out to shortstop
            • J. Kipnis: Strike looking, Ball, Kipnis popped out to shortstop
            • F. Lindor: Foul, Lindor lined out to right
            • Middle of the 8th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • Dan Otero relieved Trevor Bauer
            • C. Correa: Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Correa grounded out to shortstop
            • T. White: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, White doubled to deep left
            • Myles Straw ran for Tyler White
            • J. Reddick: Reddick singled to center, Straw scored
            • M. Maldonado: Strike looking, Ball, Maldonado grounded out to second, Reddick out at second
            • End of the 8th (1 Run, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 7TH INNING
            • R. Pressly Pitching:
            • J. Donaldson: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Donaldson flied out to left
            • Y. Alonso: Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Foul, Strike swinging, Alonso struck out swinging
            • M. Cabrera: Strike looking, Strike looking, Cabrera grounded out to pitcher
            • Middle of the 7th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Allen Pitching:
            • M. Maldonado: Foul, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Maldonado homered to left
            • G. Springer: Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Springer singled to center
            • Trevor Bauer relieved Cody Allen
            • J. Altuve: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Pickoff attempt, Foul, Pickoff attempt, Pickoff attempt, Altuve grounded out to third, Springer to second
            • A. Bregman: Foul, Ball, Ball, Bregman singled to left, Springer scored, Bregman out at second
            • Y. Gurriel: Gurriel doubled to left center
            • M. Gonzalez: Strike looking, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Gonzalez struck out swinging
            • End of the 7th (2 Runs, 4 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 6TH INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • Y. Gomes: Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Gomes singled to right
            • J. Kipnis: Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Strike looking, Kipnis struck out looking
            • F. Lindor: Lindor singled to right, Gomes to second
            • M. Brantley: Foul, Ball, Strike (foul tip), Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Brantley walked, Gomes to third, Lindor to second
            • Ryan Pressly relieved Justin Verlander
            • J. Ramirez: Ball, Gomes scored, Lindor to third, Brantley to second on wild pitch, Foul, Strike swinging, Foul, Ramirez grounded out to first, Lindor scored, Brantley to third
            • E. Encarnacion: Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Encarnacion struck out swinging
            • Middle of the 6th (2 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • A. Cimber Pitching:
            • C. Correa: Strike looking, Strike looking, Correa popped out to second
            • T. White: Ball, Ball, White lined out to first
            • Cody Allen relieved Adam Cimber
            • J. Reddick: Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Reddick flied out to right
            • End of the 6th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 5TH INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • J. Donaldson: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Donaldson struck out swinging
            • Y. Alonso: Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Alonso struck out swinging
            • M. Cabrera: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Cabrera flied out to left
            • Middle of the 5th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Kluber Pitching:
            • G. Springer: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Springer homered to left center
            • J. Altuve: Ball, Altuve homered to left
            • A. Bregman: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Bregman grounded out to second
            • Y. Gurriel: Gurriel grounded out to third
            • M. Gonzalez: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Gonzalez singled to right
            • Adam Cimber relieved Corey Kluber
            • C. Correa: Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Pickoff attempt, Pickoff attempt, Ball, Ball, Gonzalez caught stealing second, catcher to second
            • End of the 5th (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 4TH INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • M. Brantley: Ball, Foul, Strike looking, Foul, Brantley grounded out to first
            • J. Ramirez: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Ramirez grounded out to first
            • E. Encarnacion: Strike looking, Ball, Encarnacion flied out to center
            • Middle of the 4th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Kluber Pitching:
            • A. Bregman: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Bregman homered to left
            • Y. Gurriel: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Gurriel walked
            • M. Gonzalez: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Gonzalez popped out to shortstop
            • C. Correa: Ball, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Correa lined out to right
            • T. White: Ball, Strike swinging, White singled to center, Gurriel to second
            • J. Reddick: Ball, Strike looking, Reddick singled to right, Gurriel scored, White to third
            • M. Maldonado: Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Maldonado struck out swinging
            • End of the 4th (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 3RD INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • Y. Gomes: Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Gomes struck out swinging
            • J. Kipnis: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Strike looking, Kipnis struck out looking
            • F. Lindor: Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Strike (foul tip), Strike swinging, Lindor struck out swinging
            • Middle of the 3rd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Kluber Pitching:
            • M. Maldonado: Strike looking, Maldonado grounded out to second
            • G. Springer: Ball, Strike looking, Springer grounded out to third
            • J. Altuve: Strike looking, Ball, Altuve flied out to left
            • End of the 3rd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 2ND INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • J. Donaldson: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Donaldson grounded out to pitcher
            • Y. Alonso: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Alonso struck out swinging
            • M. Cabrera: Foul, Strike looking, Cabrera flied out to deep left
            • Middle of the 2nd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Kluber Pitching:
            • M. Gonzalez: Foul, Foul, Ball, Gonzalez hit by pitch
            • C. Correa: Foul, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Correa struck out swinging
            • T. White: Strike looking, Ball, White hit by pitch, Gonzalez to second
            • J. Reddick: Ball, Reddick grounded out to shortstop, White out at second
            • End of the 2nd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 1ST INNING
            • J. Verlander Pitching:
            • F. Lindor: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Lindor popped out to shortstop
            • M. Brantley: Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Brantley flied out to center
            • J. Ramirez: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Ramirez walked
            • E. Encarnacion: Pickoff attempt, Encarnacion grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, Ramirez out at second
            • Middle of the 1st (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • C. Kluber Pitching:
            • G. Springer: Ball, Ball, Springer grounded out to shortstop
            • J. Altuve: Foul, Altuve flied out to center
            • A. Bregman: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Bregman walked
            • Y. Gurriel: Strike looking, Foul, Gurriel flied out to deep center
            • End of the 1st (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)