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Astros vs. Mariners score: Yordan Alvarez hits another clutch homer to give Houston 2-0 ALDS lead

The Houston Astros defeated the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Thursday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. The best-of-five series now sees Houston lead 2-0. Houston’s Yordan Alvarez, the hero of Game 1, once again served as the late-inning hero for the Astros, hitting a two-run, go-ahead home-run in the bottom of the sixth to swing the score from 2-1 in favor of the Mariners to 3-2 in favor of the Astros.

Take a look:

Here are four things to know about the Astros’ Game 2 win.

1. Yordan delivers again

It was Alvarez who hit the walk-off three-run home-run in Game 1, and as mentioned in the introduction, it was Alvarez who turned the tides in Game 2. Seattle starter Luis Castillo and the Mariners had been rolling to that point , yet whatever momentum they had sustained proved to not matter. Instead, Alvarez became the third player in Division Series history to launch multiple go-ahead home runs in the sixth inning or later, according to MLB.com’s Andrew Simon:

Alvarez’s blast, for those wondering, traveled 371 feet and had an exit velocity of 103.6 mph, according to Statcast.

Alvarez entered Thursday with a career .291 / .396 / .496 slash line and four home runs in 35 postseason contests. He added a very important number to that column on Thursday.

The Mariners, presumably tired of getting beat by Alvarez, decided to walk him intentionally in the bottom of the eighth inning. The IBB came with a runner on first and two outs in the inning, meaning Seattle manager Scott Servais violated one of the analytical rules of thumb when it comes to intentional walks: never issue one to advance a runner. Servais and the Mariners would pay for the decision, as Alex Bregman singled in an insurance run.

It didn’t end up mattering (though the Mariners did bring the tying run to the plate on two occasions in the ninth), but it may speak to Servais and company taking a more conservative approach to facing Alvarez heading forward.

2. Castillo, Valdez were sharp

On paper, Luis Castillo and Framber Valdez looked like a potential pitcher’s duel between aces. They may not have traded zeroes throughout the afternoon, but each delivered a solid performance all the same.

Castillo was acquired by the Mariners from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline for starts like these. He threw seven innings before giving way to the M’s bullpen, permitting three runs on five hits and no walks. (All three runs scored on home runs, Alvarez’s and a solo shot hit by Kyle Tucker earlier in the game.) Castillo also struck out seven batters and continued to show increased velocity.

Valdez, for his part, exited with two outs in the sixth inning. To that point, he had surrendered two runs (albeit only one earned) on four hits and three walks. Valdez struck out six of the 24 batters he faced.

Combine Castillo and Valdez’s lines and you get the following: 12 2/3 innings, nine hits, five runs (four earned), three walks, and 13 strikeouts.

It’s worth noting that Valdez departed after loading the bases; reliever Hector Neris induced a threat-ending groundout to keep the deficit at one. That proved to be important, both to Valdez’s statline and the game’s outcome, as Alvarez homered in the subsequent half-iinning.

3. Houston’s victory reaffirms series dynamic

The Astros are now firmly in control of the series. According to our Dayn Perry’s research, 144 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in the Division Series, and only 10 have managed to come back and win the series – most recently by the Yankees vs. Cleveland in 2017. Perhaps the Mariners will prove fit for the task – they will host two of the potential three remaining games – but the odds are very much in favor of the Astros advancing to play for the pennant.

4. What’s next

The Mariners and Astros will take Friday off for travel purposes as the series shifts to Seattle. They’ll reconvene on Saturday afternoon to play Game 3, or the first postseason contest to be hosted in Seattle since 2001. Lance McCullers Jr. is scheduled to start for the Astros; he’ll oppose the Mariners’ George Kirby, who will be attempting to force a Game 4.

The series winner will advance to the AL Championship Series, where they’ll play for the pennant against either the New York Yankees or the Cleveland Guardians. (Game 2 between the Yankees and Guardians was postponed until Friday because of rain.)

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