Yordan Álvarez belts 2 homers as Astros win 5-3 to sweep Mets

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HOUSTON — Yordan Alvarez homered twice and the Houston Astros beat the New York Mets 5-3 to complete a two-game sweep.

Next up, a trip to the Big Apple to face the major league-leading New York Yankees and slugger Aaron Judge, the only player who’s hit more homers than Alvarez this season.

“Whenever a player goes to New York and plays there, it’s just really exciting with the history of that team and the ballpark,” Alvarez said through a translator. “We know they’re a really good team so we’re just going to compete and try to win.”

Alvarez hit two of the season-high three homers allowed by Carlos Carrasco (8-3). The right-hander exited with lower back tightness in the third inning with the Astros up 5-1.

Alvarez, who also homered Tuesday night, now has 21 this season to move into a tie with Mike Trout for second-most in the majors – Judge has 27 after hitting two more Wednesday night.

The home run barrage by Alvarez in this series came after he missed Sunday’s game with a minor hand injury.

The 24-year-old Alvarez leads all players with a 1.064 OPS and has nine homers in his last 20 games.

Asked if this is the best he’s ever felt at the plate, Alvarez thought for a second before answering.

“It could be,” he said with a smile. “I’m not sure.”

Alex Bregman added a two-run homer for the Astros, who won their third straight.

The National League-leading Mets entered the series having won four of five games but continued to struggle in Houston, where they’ve dropped eight in a row.

“It was a great series,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m glad we won against a quality, quality team. We got good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. And now on to New York – another tough one.”

Houston starter Luis Garcia (5-5) yielded six hits and three runs with five strikeouts in five-plus innings for the win. Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.

Carrasco yielded four hits and five runs in 2 1/3 innings before his injury. Though it’s unclear if the issue will keep Carrasco out for an extended period, it could be another blow for a team already missing star pitchers Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom with injuries.

After the game, Carrasco was asked how concerned he was about his back.

“No concern,” he said. “I think I’ll be fine. Just waiting for tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

Jose Altuve got things going when he drew a leadoff walk before scoring on a double by Michael Brantley. Bregman’s homer to left field made it 3-0. Houston went back-to-back when Alvarez followed with his homer on a ball that landed in the bullpen in right-center.

Dominic Smith opened the Mets third with a double and advanced to third on a groundout by Tomas Nido. New York cut the lead to 4-1 when Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Nimmo.

There was one out in the third when Alvarez connected again, this time launching a fastball from Carrasco into the second deck in right field to make it 5-1. It was the fourth multi-homer game this season for Alvarez and first since May 30.

Carrasco walked Kyle Tucker before throwing two pitches to Yuli Gurriel and calling trainers to the mound. They talked to Carrasco for a minute before he left the game and was replaced by Yoan Lopez.

Garcia walked Nimmo to start the sixth and he scored on a double by Starling Marte to cut the lead to three. Francisco Lindor singled to chase Garcia, and Ryne Stanek took over. Pete Alonso‘s sacrifice fly scored Marte to get New York to 5-3.

Luis Guillorme doubled and Mark Canha walked to load the bases. The Astros preserved the lead when Stanek retired Eduardo Escobar on a popup before striking out Smith to end the inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Scherzer (oblique strain) could come off the injured list to start Sunday. Mets manager Buck Showalter said after the game he thinks the plan is for Scherzer to meet the team in Miami to make that start, but he had to talk to general manager Billy Eppler later Wednesday to confirm it.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York is off Thursday before Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.88 ERA) starts Friday night in the first of three games at Miami.

Astros: Framber Valdez (7-3, 2.78) will pitch Thursday night for Houston in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball and telling stories about the pitch, died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details. A statement from the Perry family said he “passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 after a 24-16 season and with San Diego in 1978 – going 21-6 for his fifth and final 20-win season just after turning 40.

“Before I won my second Cy Young, I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

Perry was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and spent 10 seasons among legendary teammates like Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who said Thursday that Perry “was a good man, a good ballplayer and my good friend. So long old Pal.”

Juan Marichal remembered Perry as “smart, funny, and kind to everyone in the clubhouse. When he talked, you listened.”

“During our 10 seasons together in the San Francisco Giants rotation, we combined to record 369 complete games, more than any pair of teammates in the Major Leagues,” Marichal said. “I will always remember Gaylord for his love and devotion to the game of baseball, his family, and his farm.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Giants teammate Orlando Cepeda said Perry had “a great sense of humor … a great personality and was my baseball brother.”

“In all my years in baseball, I never saw a right-handed hurler have such a presence on the field and in the clubhouse,” Cepeda added.

Seattle Mariners Chairman John Stanton said in a release that he spoke with Perry during his last visit to Seattle, saying Perry was, “delightful and still passionate in his opinions on the game, and especially on pitching.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

Perry is survived by wife Deborah, and three of his four children in Allison, Amy and Beth. Perry’s son Jack had previously died.

Deborah Perry said in a statement to The AP that Gaylord Perry was “an esteemed public figure who inspired millions of fans and was a devoted husband, father, friend and mentor who changed the lives of countless people with his grace, patience and spirit.”

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.