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Alvarez, Altuve batting barrage sweeps Seattle. Astros take finale 6-1

Gerrit Cole’s one run, 10 k performance strengthens his claim on All-Star selection

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In the Game Thread we asked: After 2 straight walk-off extra inning wins can the cardiac kids from Houston win one easy for once?

It’s been a long but gratifying weekend for Astros fans; two extra-inning, walk-off wins. Thankfully, the answer to the question above was yes. Although the outcome of the game was not clear until the eighth inning, it was great to see the Astros bats win one easy again.

The Astros’ six runs were accomplished without a home run. Yes, they did it the old-fashioned way, with base hits, 12 of them, and people running around the diamond, not jogging.

Even Yordan Alvarez. No home runs, but his first inning, two RBI double got the Astros on the board in the first, giving the team a rare first inning lead after J. P. Crawford homered for Seattle in the top of the inning.

He singled in Alex Bregman in the third, who had tripled off the pillars in left center field right before Alvarez’ at bat. The exit velocities on those two Alvarez hits were 110 and 108 respectively. He later walked and hit a line out clocked at 95 MPH.

As Brian McTaggart noted:

Update: 60 at-bats

19 hits

21 RBI.

Jose Altuve seems to be recovering from what has been, except for the two-week home run binge in April, a season long slump. He was 3 for 5 today, scoring a run and driving in Jake Marisnick in the three run eighth inning. Marisnick was on second after getting a two-run base knock to drive in Josh Reddick and Max Stassi, putting the outcome of the game beyond jeopardy.

What’s encouraging about Altuve’s day is that it appears to be a return to the approach that made him Jose Altuve. Altuve has always been, first and foremost, a base hit machine, and only in the last few years did he add power to the mix.

It seemed that this year Jose has been trying to make power the paramount aspect of his game. His hard hit % per Fangraphs, is 39.5%, 12% higher than his career average. His pull rate this year is 51.6%, more than 10% higher than his career average.

But it is not working. His wRC+ of 108 is his lowest since 2012. His contact % of 79.8% is more than 7% worse than his career average, and his swinging strike % at 9% is almost 3% higher than his career average. No wonder he is striking out at a 15.2% rate, 4% above his career average.

Today Jose seemed to go back to default Jose; hit em where they ain’t, softly if need be, and right field too. Although he did smoke one ball at 99.8 MPH, his other two hits were carefully placed soft liners to right field, one at 70.9 MPH, the other at 92.2. MPH. Like this.

On the pitching side, credit to Gerrit Cole for his eighth win. After a lackluster previous outing, he was dominant again, getting 10 strikeouts against only one walk and five hits. Of course, one was the obligatory first inning home run, but after that Cole looked untouchable, getting 17 swinging strikes out of 109 pitches, including one clocked at 100 MPH.

Note: Cole as well as Justin Verlander and Ryan Pressly were just selected to the second round of All-Star picks. George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Alex Bregman were voted on the team by the fans.

Here is a look at Cole’s dominance today.

Tomorrow is a day off for the Astros.

Box score and videos HERE.