HOUSTON — Astros manager Dusty Baker had the highest of praise for his second baseman and shortstop after Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa fueled a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night.
Altuve’s two-run homer in the sixth inning tied the game at 3-3 while Correa’s solo shot in the seventh put the Astros in front for good.
It’s the fourth time Altuve and Correa have homered in the same postseason game, the most by a pair of infield teammates in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only pair of teammates who have accomplished the feat more often was Correa and former teammate George Springer.
“Two swings changed the course of the game,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Altuve added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, which provided the final margin of victory for the home team.
“He is just so dangerous,” Correa said of Altuve. “His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much.”
Altuve returned the praise: “He is amazing. He likes this kind of game. He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you’re expecting something, eventually you’re going to make it happen, and that’s him.”
In fact, Correa said he visualizes his at-bats in the on-deck circle, though he may not have seen himself hitting a high changeup from Red Sox reliever Hansel Robles into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park. It ignited the crowd as Correa dropped his bat and pointed to his wrist before beginning his home run jog.
“It’s to my teammates,” Correa explained. “When the playoffs start, they always tell me, ‘it’s your time now to go out there, hit homers.’ They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.
“I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me, ‘if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it’s your time.'”
Correa’s blast was his 18th career postseason home run while Altuve hit his 20th, tying him with Derek Jeter for third all time.
“It means a lot,” Altuve said. “Derek Jeter is one of the greatest baseball players ever, greatest person to ever play the game, and just to hit as many homers as him, it means a lot to me.”
Correa added about Altuve: “When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards. Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better.”
The two players were nearly outshined by Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez, who had four hits, including two home runs — the second of which came in the ninth inning to cut the lead to one. Hernandez has 29 total bases over his past four postseason games. Only Reggie Jackson, a current Astros adviser, has accomplished that feat over four playoff games.
“Enrique is en fuego,” Cora said.
Hernandez was about the lone bright spot on offense for the Red Sox, who had just four hits in the final 6 1/3 innings. While their offense was stalling, Altuve and Correa went to work on the comeback for Houston.
“I was hoping it would be them,” Baker said. “It’s a pleasure to be watching them up close and personal. Those are some clutch guys.”
Game 2 of the ALCS will take place Saturday afternoon in Houston.