Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
After the big win on Friday night, the Astros looked to secure the series win with Justin Verlander on the mound Saturday night. Here's a rundown of the game:
Final Score: Astros 3, Mariners 1
Record: 10-5, second in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (2-0).
Losing pitcher: Felix Hernandez (1-1).
Star of the game: It was vintage Justin Verlander on Saturday night. One of his very few mistakes on the night was a pitch that resulted in a solo home run for Seattle. Otherwise, Verlander was completely dominant in his six innings of work, getting eleven big strikeouts and giving up just one run on two hits.
Notes: After the offensive fireworks the night before, it took a few innings to get the scoring started on Saturday night. It was Robinson Chirinos who got Houston on the board with a solo home run in the top of the third, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead. Michael Brantley extended the lead to 2-0 in the third with an RBI single. Mitch Haniger managed one of the two hits against Verlander, his a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth which made it 2-1. Jose Altuve pushed the lead back to two runs in the top of the fifth with yet another home run, a solo shot which put his streak at five games and made it a 3-1 game. After Verlander hit 105 pitches through six innings, the Astros went to their bullpen to finish out the game. Will Harris had the seventh and worked around a two-out single then ground-rule double to get the last out and keep the Mariners from scoring. Ryan Pressly took over in the eighth and retired the side in order, then Roberto Osuna came in for a successful save in the ninth, his sixth on the year.
Up Next: The Astros and Mariners will wrap this series up tomorrow with a 3:10 PM first pitch. Gerrit Cole will start for Houston and look to get into the win column, currently sitting at 0-2 on the year despite some decent starts. He'll go up against Marco Gonzalez for Seattle who is 4-0 on the season.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.