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One other Big Blast From Alvarez Gives Astros a Commanding Lead

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HOUSTON — Two days after coming from behind to beat the Mariners with a walk-off home run, the Astros were still reveling within the electrifying energy from the win. They channeled that feeling on Thursday, defeating the Mariners again, this time, 4-2, to take a commanding two-games-to-none hold over the series.

Before starting on Thursday, Astros pitcher Framber Valdez said on Wednesday that when Yordan Alvarez got here as much as the plate on Tuesday with two runners onboard, the team “knew something good was going to occur.” The important thing for Game 2 after Alvarez’s walk-off homer in Game 1, Valdez said through a Spanish-language interpreter, was to maintain up that positivity.

“I believe that it’s really essential for us to proceed that energy,” Valdez said.

Like Valdez, Astros Manager Dusty Baker said on Wednesday that maintaining the momentum from Tuesday’s game was crucial for Game 2.

“What games like that do, it excites the fans, it excites us,” Baker said. “It transcends from top to bottom, to the fans, to the office employees, to the janitors, everybody within the organization, just attempting to think positive about an consequence of the sport.”

The Astros held on to that positivity for Game 2 and again counted on Alvarez, who went deep again Thursday. This time, Alvarez hit a two-run home run to left field in the underside of the sixth, turning a 2-1 deficit for the Astros right into a 3-2 lead.

Valdez began Thursday’s game efficiently, retiring the Mariners’ first eight batters of the day. He was aided by Kyle Tucker, who hit a solo home run to right field within the second inning.

Valdez struggled within the fourth, giving up a walk after which a double with one out, setting the stage for Carlos Santana with runners at second and third.

Santana hit a brief ground ball that Valdez fielded. He tried to get the out at home but made an errant throw to his catcher Martín Maldonado, giving up a run. The error prompted a visit to the mound from the Astros pitching coach, Josh Miller, and Maldonado.

Valdez said on Wednesday that Maldonado has helped him stay calm during his starts this season.

“Sometimes after I’m losing focus or losing the strike zone, he’ll sometimes yell at me from the plate or exit to the mound and confer with me,” Valdez said. “Sometimes even between innings within the dugout he’ll be the individual that will come and confer with me and calm me down a little bit bit more. He definitely has been an enormous a part of what I’ve been in a position to do that yr.”

The Astros threw out Santana on the basepaths after the error, but Valdez then gave up one other run when Dylan Moore lined a single to right field. But he quickly settled down again within the fifth inning, retiring three straight batters with back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout.

Valdez began to unravel again within the sixth inning, loading the bases with two outs with a walk, a double and one other walk.

That was enough for Baker, who pulled Valdez from the sport, and called on the right-hander Héctor Neris from the bullpen. Neris helped the Astros escape the inning unscathed with a groundout.

The Astros took the lead in the underside half on Alvarez’s homer to left field that drove in Jeremy Peña, who had singled to get on base.

Despite allowing a second home run, starter Luis Castillo remained in the sport to begin the underside of the seventh. Castillo had pitched effectively throughout the afternoon, going into the seventh with 75 pitches.

After recording two outs, Castillo gave up a double to Aledmys Díaz, but he managed to get out of the inning without giving up one other run. Castillo ended his day with seven strikeouts in seven innings and three earned runs from the 2 homers.

The Mariners managed to get runners onboard within the seventh and eighth innings, but did not rating, because the right-handed relievers Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero helped the Astros hold onto their lead.

In the underside of the eighth, Peña walked with two outs, paving the way in which for Alvarez so as to add an insurance run, however the Mariners intentionally walked him. Alex Bregman took advantage, hitting a single to right field to herald Peña, who beat Mitch Haniger’s throw to home plate, extending the Astros’ result in 4-2.

The Astros sent Ryan Pressly to the mound in the highest of the ninth to shut out the sport. Pressly walked Adam Frazier to begin the inning, after which got J.P. Crawford to line out into an unassisted double play.

With two outs, Julio Rodríguez hit a double to center field, giving Ty France a likelihood keep the Mariners in the sport, but Pressly struck out France to present the Astros the win.

The Astros and the Mariners will now travel to Seattle for Game 3 on Saturday in what will probably be the primary postseason game in Seattle since October 2001. If needed, the teams would also play Game 4 in Seattle on Sunday, after which they’d return to Houston for Game 5 on Monday.

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