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Two Puerto Rican Natives Make Loud Impact In Game 1 of ALCS, Only One Prevails To Carry Their Team To Victory

📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports

An island that has a burning love for the game of baseball erupted with an intense fire, as two Puerto Rican players on opposite sides of the diamond carried their teams in a tumultuous Game 1 in the American League Championship Series.

Game 1 of any series, let alone in the championship series, sets the tone for the games the lie ahead and begins to mold a story that anxiously waits to be completed.

On Friday night, Carlos Correa’s game-altering home run and unfazed momentum carried the Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park.

As right-handed pitcher Hansel Robles tried to feast Correa four-straight fastballs, Correa, a native from Ponce, Puerto Rico, planted his feet into the dirt that resided in the batter’s box and waited for Robles to hang a changeup over the plate, and he made him pay. Correa hit a towering home run into the left-field seats to give the Astros a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.       

Immediately after the ball was launched into the air, Correa dropped his bat, eyed the Astros dugout, tapped his wrist numerous times, and shouted vigorously, “It’s my time!” as he pounded on his chest just before rounding the bases.  

 

“When the playoffs start, they (Astros teammates) always tell me, it’s your time now to go out there, hit homers, this and that. They told me to hit the watch, and when I hit the homer — I did it in Chicago the first time on my own, and today they told me if you hit a homer, hit them with the ‘it’s your time.’ It just happened naturally there.”

Before Correa sparked a frenzy by making postseason magic, Jose Altuve turned Minute Maid Park into a madhouse just an inning earlier after he launched a slider to left-center field and into a stream of Astros fans to tie the game at three. 

“It feels good, obviously. Especially in a playoff and especially in the situation we were down by two runs,” Altuve said of his homer. “And just to tie the game and to give the team the chance to win the game is big. So I felt — even though I don’t do any bat flip or nothing, I’m really happy about the homers I hit because I’m helping the team to win.”

That game-tying two-run home run was Altuve’s 20th home run in his extensive postseason career, tying New York Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter for third on the All-Time postseason home run list.   

The Astros fed off an early opportunity in the bottom of the first inning against a struggling Chris Sale. With Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman in scoring position, Yordan Álvarez was able to hit a popup to center field, giving Altuve the chance to tag from third base for the first run of the game.  

The Astros currently carry a large load of momentum as they punish the Red Sox by taking Game 1 of the best-of-seven series. But, on the other side of the field, Enrique “Kiké” Hernández has taken the postseason by storm, showing no mercy for his postseason opponents.

The 30-year-old San Juan native went 4-for-5 with two leadoff home runs, two RBI, and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. The only person to hit for the cycle in a postseason game was Brock Holt for the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 American League Division Series. In six games through the 2021 playoffs, Hernández currently holds an astounding .500/.500/1.071 slash line with four home runs and eight RBI. 

To add to his postseason resume, the Red Sox leadoff hitter has 13 hits in his last four games. It’s the most hits in a 4-game span in a single postseason. According to MLB Insider Sara Langs, that record surpasses Randy Arozarena (2020), Hideki Matsui (2004), Marquis Grisson (1995) and Billy Hatcher (1990) who all have totaled 11 hits in a four-game span in a single postseason. 

The awe-inspiring moments did not end at the plate as Hernández fueled an entire Red Sox offense; he also made a handful of impressive plays in center field.   

“I’m having a lot of fun. It’s a blast,” Hernández said when asked about his enthusiasm on the playing field. “It’s October, and these games tend to be a lot of fun. A lot of adrenaline, a lot of electricity in the crowd. These games are a lot of fun, and the fact that I’m playing well adds on to it a little bit. As far as defensively, I thought my game was pretty adventurous. I had the nice diving play on Brantley.”

Early on in the bottom of the second inning, the Astros had an opportunity to expand their early lead after Red Sox starter Sale gave up two straight singles and plucked Martín Maldonado to load the bases. Hernández put that rally to rest when he was able to make a diving catch to close out the inning. 

As the adrenaline continued to flow through his veins, Hernández would enter the batter’s box at the top of the next inning and launch a 78-mph curveball 448-feet into deep centerfield to tie the game at one.

With Hernández creating an open wound for the Astros, the Red Sox refused to let the pressure of the orange crowd stop the bleeding. A fielding error by Altuve allowed third base coach Carlos Febles to wave Xander Bogaerts home and score the go-ahead run to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

The next batter, the crowd’s loud pitch dropped as right fielder Hunter Renfroe was able to sink a curveball down the third baseline for an RBI double to score Rafael Devers, giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead in the top of the third inning. However, it wouldn’t be until the sixth that the next run was made in the ball game, and the Astros make their invigorating comeback.

“This is going to be a heck of a series, and it was a heck of a Game 1,” Hernández said as he turns the page and looks forward to Game 2 of the ALCS. “We expect nothing less tomorrow. It’s going to be intense, and it’s going to take everything we’ve got to be able to get past these guys.”

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