After a couple of tough losses in the Bronx this week amid boos and jeers only generated by New Yorkers, the Astros beat the Yankees 7-4 in the series finale thank to the long-ball. Jose Altuve hit what would be the game winning three-run dinger on his thirty-first birthday and Martin Maldonado tacked on a two-run shot late in the game, but it was Yordan Alverez who was the toast of town with a pair of homers including an upper-deck job to right field.
Alvarez, who missed the entire 2020 season with knee issues and COVID has taken some time to emerge this year. That is due in part to teams soft pitching him on the outer part of the plate and also to the fact that the ‘Stros have faced an inordinate number of lefty pitchers to start the season. But, Alvarez is adjusting and became only the third player to take former Astros Gerrit Cole deep twice in the same game.
Coming into Thursday’s game, Alvarez was slashing .318/.361/.534 with three home runs and eight doubles. While he is down in slugging and OPS compared to previous years, he has improved his average and is starting to look more and more comfortable at the plate.
They key for Alvarez is remaining patient as he learns how to work around pitchers who want to stay away from his bat, particularly in key situations. He is hitting the ball the opposite direction more this season, taking what pitchers are giving him, but he has also struck out in roughly a quarter of his plate appearances while only walking four times.
Alvarez is a free swinger with good reason, but as more teams try to pitch around him, he has a good enough eye at the plate to improve his discipline along with his on-base percentage.
Now that he appears to be rounding back into shape and the number of left-handers on the schedule is starting to even out, he’ll be able to punish pitchers for any mistake. In both home runs against Cole, he clearly was seeing the ball well and capitalizing when he could even though Cole appeared to make the pitches he wanted.
Alvarez has incredible talent and power at the plate. With injuries hopefully behind him, don’t be surprised if we see a spate of homers from him in the coming weeks. It would be a welcome sight for the Astros.
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