Since 1908, only three players have collected four or more home runs within the first five games of their career: Mike Jacobs (2005), Yasiel Puig (2013), and most recently, Trevor Story (who improved that record with six home runs in 2016). On Saturday, Astros designated hitter and outfielder Yordan Álvarez became the fourth member of that exclusive club, belting a Clayton Richard slider out to the upper deck in right field and boosting the Astros to a 3-0 lead in the third.
Álvarez, 21, has been on a tear ever since his MLB debut with the club last Sunday. He collected two-run homers off of Dylan Bundy and Matt Albers during his first two career games, then went 3-for-4 with a pair of singles and another two-run home run in Friday’s series opener against the Blue Jays. He decorated his efforts on Saturday with two more singles in the fifth and seventh innings, though nothing ultimately came of either hit.
Following their 7-2 win over Toronto, the Astros improved to 48-23 on the season and kept their hold on the AL West with a 10-game lead over the second-place Rangers. They’ll go for the sweep on Sunday, when Brad Peacock is scheduled to go up against Trent Thornton for the finale at 2:10 PM EDT.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.