Alvarez hits 3-run HR vs. Ray in 9th, Astros jolt Mariners in ALDS

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HOUSTON — Yordan Alvarez wrecked all of Seattle’s carefully crafted strategy with one colossal swing.

The Mariners came to the postseason with a plan. Down to their last out, the October-tested Houston Astros weren’t so easily outmatched.

Alvarez smashed a game-ending, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Robbie Ray, foiling the Mariners’ move to use a Cy Young Award winner in a rare relief role and vaulting the Astros to an 8-7 win in their playoff opener.

“It was something going into the series where we were at, looking at our rotation, where we were going to head, and talking with Robbie about using him out of the bullpen as a bullet, so to speak, for that type of scenario,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “You know, bringing in a lefty against Alvarez, although Alvarez is one of the better hitters in the league.”

“But we talked about it coming into the series. We talked about it pregame today. I looked at it in the seventh inning and said, hey, this could happen. So that was the plan going in,” he said.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.