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Astros' Yordan Alvarez gets a start, homers in first at-bat

Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez watches his two-run home

Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez watches his two-run home run during the second inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

WASHINGTON — Presumed American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez, who did not start the first two games of the World Series at Nationals Park because the DH was not available, was in the Astros’ lineup for Game 5 Sunday night.

That worked out well. Alvarez, who started in leftfield and batted sixth, hit a two-run homer off Joe Ross in the top of the second inning to give Houston a 2-0 lead. He singled and scored on Carlos Correa’s two-run homer in the fourth.

Alvarez, coming off a 1-for-22 ALCS against the Yankees, rewarded manager AJ Hinch’s faith, going 3-for-3 in Game 5 to improve to 6-for-11 with two walks in this series.

“I'm completely comfortable with Alvarez in leftfield,”  Hinch said before the game. “I think he is limited in some ways in his range and in his experience, but he's not a liability. He's going to catch the balls he's supposed to catch. He's going to make the plays he's supposed to make. If he can help us get the lead, I'll probably get him out of there with either Jake [Marisnick] or [Josh Reddick] or [Kyle] Tucker. I can steal a couple at-bats. If we put up the at-bats we put up yesterday, his third at-bat might happen in the middle of the game. That would be a great advantage to get two or three at-bats of his.”

Astros apologize

Astros owner Jim Crane apologized to Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein for the organization’s initial statement saying she “fabricated” a story published early last week about since-fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman. The story described Taubman’s profane outburst that targeted a female writer (not Apstein) during the clubhouse celebration that followed Houston’s ALCS-clinching victory over the Yankees.

“We were wrong, and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionalism,” he wrote in part of the letter, dated Oct. 26 and published Oct. 27 on Twitter by Apstein.

The targeted reporter, who has worn a bracelet to raise awareness of domestic violence for more than a year after the  Astros' acquisition of Roberto Osuna,  has remained anonymous and not sought the spotlight since the incident. The Astros acquired Osuna in 2018 while the reliever was serving a  suspension for violating MLB’s domestic-violence policy.

Going to the dogs

Security lines for everyone were, as expected, longer to get into the ballpark Sunday as President Trump attended Game 5.

“I think everybody is excited,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It's the President of the United States. So there's obviously beefed-up security. So usually the dogs that are sniffing in our clubhouse are these nice Labs that are super-friendly. And today there was a German shepherd that I didn't really feel comfortable petting.”

First pitch  

Spanish-American chef and philanthropist Jose Andres, who organized 19,000 volunteers to help serve more than 3.5 million meals to people in Puerto Rico in the months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island in September 2017 and has raised money for the Bahamas after a hurricane this year, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday to a rousing ovation. 

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