"IT'S GOT TO BE THE HAIR"

Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Astros star Jake Marisnick

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Jake Marisnick's mother knew.

Back when the Houston Astros centerfielder and resident sex symbol was playing Little League baseball, Jennifer Marisnick told Tristar Productions senior vice-president Bobby Mintz: "One day, my son is going to be signing autographs at one of your shows."

"It's true," Mintz says. "In the early 2000s, Jennifer Marisnick worked for Reynolds Sports Management, who represents Jake today. She brought Jake to our show in Phoenix. He was about 10 years old. When she told me that Jake would sign autographs with us, I told that I hoped she was right. At least his agent would know where to find us!"

Tristar, based in Houston, is an industry leader in sports memorabilia, trading cards, and autograph shows. And true to mom's word, Marisnick will be scribbling his name on bats and balls for fans at Tristar's 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena.

Other sports celebrities scheduled to appear at the event include: DeAndre Hopkins, John Manziel, Amari Cooper, Robert Griffin III, Mean Joe Greene, and Marisnick's Astros buddies — Yuri Gurriel, Ryan Pressly, and Will Harris. Visit the site for a complete list of celebrities, schedules, autograph prices and ticket information.

I caught Marisnick on the phone in the middle of the Astros taking two out of three from the Red Sox last weekend in Boston. My plan: "10 Questions, just give me the first thought that pops in your head. Let's hurry, you've got a game …"

CultureMap: You're hitting over .300, that's 70 points higher than your career average. You're hitting with power. And still you bat ninth in the lineup? Do the players realize how crazy good, historically good, the Astros are this year?

Jake Marisnick: You look around, up and down the lineup and the bench, and you see a bunch of guys who like to work and want to get better. I don't think we're worried about the numbers as much as we're concerned about improving. I have the chance to pick the brains of some of the best hitters in baseball, so I'm going to take advantage of that.

CM: Astros color analyst Geoff Blum came up with a nickname for you, Jake from Rake Farm. Are you okay with it? Ever have any other nicknames?

JM: Yeah, I think it's pretty funny. I had the nickname Big Fudge back when I was in Double A ball with guys like Christian Yelich. I got the nickname because I was on the disabled list, and they said I was eating everything in sight."

CM: You're going to be at the Tristar show signing autographs. I have a few autographed baseballs in my sock drawer and I have no idea who signed them. The handwriting is so horrible. Are you a good autographer? Do you ever ask other players for their autographs?

JM: Signing baseballs is a little hard sometimes. We get in a routine when we're signing a lot of baseballs, and I get a little quick with them. But I sign them the best I can and put my number [6] next to my name. I do send some balls over to the other clubhouse if it's a player that I like to watch play. But I can make out their autographs so I know who they are.

CM: You're having your best year hitting — by far. The other night the announcers said you worked on some things over the winter and made some changes. What did you do?

JM: Nothing too drastic. The biggest thing was just getting my body synced up. I think I was a little disconnected last year. When you get everything working together you have a little more time to make decisions, and I'm feeling good up there.

CM: You and George Springer both injured your hands sliding head-first into a base. Now some players wear those silly oven mitts. Wouldn't it be smarter to just slide feet-first? One base can't be worth a season-ending injury, like what happened to you in 2017.

Continue reading on CultureMap for Marisnick's thoughts on sliding head-first, and being the team sex symbol.

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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