HOUSTON (AP) — After hitting 23 homers in just 56 games at Triple-A this season, the pressure was on Yordan Álvarez to see if he could replicate that power in the majors.
The 21-year-old didn’t disappoint in his big league debut.
Álvarez hit a two-run drive to back up a solid start by Wade Miley and help the Houston Astros to a 4-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
“That’s an incredible performance for him when all everybody ever wanted today was a homer from him,” manager AJ Hinch said. “That’s what everybody expected, and he did it.”
Álvarez was called up from Triple-A Round Rock before the game with a home run total that led the Pacific Coast League. He homered in his second at-bat, connecting off Dylan Bundy (3-7) in the fourth inning.
“That first at-bat, obviously, I felt a little bit nervous,” Álvarez said through a translator. “But then I started thinking about all the players here and how much advice they’ve given me and how they made me feel comfortable (and) I felt great.”
Miley (6-3), who pitched into the seventh inning, yielded six hits and struck out five before Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect inning. Héctor Rondón struck out two in the eighth before Josh James retired the first two batters in the ninth before walking consecutive batters.
After his prolific home run-hitting in the minors, Miley razzed Álvarez a bit about what he expected from the rookie on Sunday.
“I told him if he didn’t hit three, he’d be a disappointment,” Miley said.
Roberto Osuna retired Rio Ruiz on a grounder for his 17th save.
Bundy allowed two earned runs and four hits in six innings.
“Dylan pitched outstanding,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He probably could’ve gone back out for the seventh. He threw the ball really well again and we’re really encouraged by his starts the last month, month and a half.”
Hanser Alberto had three hits for the Orioles, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
Bundy retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced and Houston didn’t get a hit until Yuli Gurriel singled with two outs in the fourth. Álvarez then launched his home run to center field to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
The Astros got things going in the sixth with the help of some miscues by the Orioles. Derek Fisher reached to start the inning on an error by shortstop Richie Martin. Fisher stole second base and advanced to second on an error by catcher Pedro Severino. Houston extended the lead to 3-0 when Fisher scored on a single by Josh Reddick.
Renato Núnez singled and Severino walked before a single by Jonathan Villar chased Miley. He was replaced by Pressly, who got a forceout at home on a grounder hit by Anthony Santander for the first out before retiring pinch-hitter Ruiz and Stevie Wilkerson on fly outs to escape the bases-loaded jam.
“That’s what Pressly has done all year is come in and shut the door down in any inning he’s asked,” Hyde said. “We had some opportunities, but just didn’t come through.”
The Astros tacked on a run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Gurriel.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa, who had previously only spoken about his broken rib on his fiancée’s YouTube channel, talked to reporters on Sunday about the massage that he says caused the injury. He said he had felt soreness around his ribs in the days leading up to the massage, but that it wasn’t anything that would have kept him from playing. During the massage he said he heard a “loud crack,” and his masseuse gasped. “I was like: ‘What happened, what’s that?'” he said. “She said: ‘That’s never happened in my 20 years before.’ I’m like: ‘Well, that’s not comforting.'” He plans to get massages again in the future, but won’t get one from the same woman again. Correa is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.
TOUGH ON LEFTIES
All three of Alberto’s hits on Sunday came off Miley to increase his major league-leading average against left-handers to .425.
Orioles: Baltimore has an off day on Monday before opening a three-game series against Toronto on Tuesday. LHP John Means (5-4, 2.67 ERA) will start the opener after yielding four hits and one run in his last start but not factoring into the decision in a 2-1 loss to Texas.
Astros: Houston is also off on Monday before Brad Peacock (5-3, 3.20) will start the opener of a two-game interleague series with Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Peacock allowed four hits and two runs in five innings of a 14-1 loss to Seattle in his last start.