Carlos Correa provided a signature moment on Friday with both his bat and a gesture.
The Houston shortstop belted a go-ahead homer with two outs in the seventh inning, fueling the host Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Correa immediately dropped his bat after his blast against Hansel Robles (0-1) and pointed to his wrist to signify that the postseason is “his time” as he exited the batter’s box.
“When the playoffs start, (my teammates) always tell me, ‘It’s your time now,'” Correa said. “They told me to hit the watch when I hit the homer.”
Enrique Hernandez and the Red Sox will need to keep Correa — and for that matter Jose Altuve — from chiming in again on Saturday if they hope to even the best-of-seven series at one win apiece.
“That’s his time. He’s done it many, many times,” Altuve told MLB Network of Correa. “Like I said, he likes these kind of situations. … I like the way he plays. I think he’s our leader. It’s amazing what he’s done tonight.”
Altuve did quite well for himself, too. He launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning and added a key insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“I was hoping it would be them,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Altuve and Correa. “When you have a good lineup, you don’t know which guy it’s gonna be.
“Those two guys, I’ve been watching them for years. It’s a pleasure to watch them up close and personal. Boy, they are some clutch guys.”
Altuve’s homer was his 20th in the playoff competition, tying him for third place all time with Derek Jeter.
Correa’s homer was his 18th career in the postseason, tying him for seventh place on the all-time list with Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Nelson Cruz.
“Two swings changed the course of the game,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “Overall, we put good at-bats from the beginning to the end. … They just beat us.”
Hernandez was brilliant in defeat. The center fielder highlighted his four-hit performance by homering to lead off the third and ninth innings. He became the first player in major league postseason history to record 13 hits in a four-game span.
Hernandez also made a pair of strong defensive plays to end two innings. He thwarted Houston’s bases-loaded threat by robbing Michael Brantley with a diving catch in the second, and he made a late adjustment to snare Kyle Tucker’s fly ball in the fifth with two runners on base.
“Enrique right now is en fuego,” Cora said.
The Astros leveled the contest at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Chas McCormick (3-for-4) had a one-out single, and Altuve stepped up two batters later and sent a first-pitch slider from Tanner Houck over the wall in left field.
Ryne Stanek (1-0) picked up the win after recording the final out of the seventh inning. Kendall Graveman bridged the gap to Ryan Pressly, who rebounded after Hernandez’s second homer to get three outs and record his first save of the postseason.
After preventing Houston from adding to its 1-0 lead in the second, Hernandez led off the third by depositing a 2-1 curveball from Framber Valdez over the wall in center field for a 448-foot homer.
Boston wasn’t done in the inning. With runners on first and second and one out, J.D. Martinez’s hard-hit ball handcuffed second baseman Altuve, with the miscue allowing Xander Bogaerts to score. Rafael Devers advanced to second during that sequence and came around to score on Hunter Renfroe’s double to shallow left field.
Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Valdez gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits while Boston’s Chris Sale yielded one run on five hits.
–Field Level Media