The minor league home run leader took aim at a higher distinction Sunday.
And like everything else this year, he hit it.
Yordan Alvarez, promoted by the Astros for Sunday’s game after hitting 23 homers in 56 games at Triple-A, homered in his second at-bat in the majors, wasting little time getting to work doing at the major league level what he’d become known for in the minors. He finished with one hit in three at-bats in the game.
“I don’t know how many people were in the stadium today, but they all can take credit for probably saying, ‘Hey, he’s going to homer.’ And he delivers,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “That’s an incredible performance today when all anybody wanted was a homer from him, and he did it.”
The magic of the day added to the lore, but even if he’d gone hitless in his debut it still would have been a much-celebrated, and much-deserved, promotion for the 21-year-old. Alvarez, a top prospect coming into the year, has outclassed his minor league competition from the outset, and he was hitting .343/.443/.742 at the time of his call up.
One of the roadblocks in his rise was the fact that Alvarez played primarily first base in the low minors, but he’s been working in corner outfield spots in recent years. On Sunday, he served as the Astros’ designated hitter.
The team is not short on options at virtually every position, a fact that could prove to be an issue for Alvarez as he seeks regular at-bats. But between corner outfield spots -- where the team has leaned on guys like Derek Fisher -- designated hitter, and first base, it’s not hard to see a path to consistent playing time Alvarez.
He certainly stated his case Sunday.
“He hits the ball as hard as anybody,” Hinch said. “I said that pregame, and it was well-timed, obviously. We needed it. We needed that presence, we needed that production and what a first day for him.”
Editor’s Note: Stay ahead of the competition from wire to wire with rankings, customizable projections, trade evaluator, exclusive columns and more in our Season Pass. And start using optimized lineups on Yahoo!, DraftKings and FanDuel with our DFS Toolkit!.
Four Times Is A Charm For Nationals
Back-to-back homers? Sure. Fun.
Back-to-back-to-back? Amazing. What a treat.
The Nationals did just that Sunday, homering in four consecutive at-bats -- and in the span of seven pitches -- to put them over the top in a win over the Padres. Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon accomplished the feat, which has only been done nine times in MLB history.
“If you would say there’d be four home runs, I’d never be in the mix there anywhere -- first one, last one, in the middle. So I’m happy that I was in there,” Eaton said after the game. “Pretty cool experience. It’s a contagious thing. You can’t really put your finger on it. It just happens.”
It was a historic feat, but also an important one for the Nats. The game was tied at 1-1 heading into the eighth inning, and Stephen Strasburg was on the brink of not being rewarded for the gem he’d thrown to that point.
Enter Kendrick, who was pinch-hitting for Strasburg with one out in the eighth when he launched a shot to center field. Turner followed with a no-doubter to center, too, and Eaton also went out to center. Rendon hit an opposite-field shot to right-center field to make it four in a row. The Nats would win the game 5-2.
“You don’t want to be the one who doesn’t hit one. It was pretty crazy. It doesn’t happen a lot. You’re just glad you’re on this side and not the other side.”
German Hits Shelf With Hip Injury
The Yankees’ growing list of walking wounded added a prominent member on Sunday.
Domingo German, who leads the league with nine wins, was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday morning with a left hip flexor strain. German said Sunday that he’d been pitching through the discomfort, including in Friday’s loss to the Indians, but that he didn’t think it was the kind of thing that would force him to the shelf.
“I didn’t tell the team at the time, because I felt it was the kind of injury I felt I was going to get through. In between starts it would kind of go away,” German said Sunday morning. “I didn’t think it was something that was going to put me out of the rotation. I thought it was something I was going to deal with and get over.”
German was touched up slightly by the Indians, allowing four runs in six innings in a loss, but it wasn’t the kind of start that makes it apparent that something is wrong. German said he also felt the discomfort in a May 26 start against the Royals, when he allowed seven runs -- including four homers -- over five innings of work.
The loss is arguably as important as any the Yanks have had this year, although it sounds like it won’t be a lengthy one. But German has proven to be a savior for the rotation that has had more than its share of injuries, posting a 3.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 77/19 K/BB ratio in 70 innings of work.
With the 26-year-old out, the Yanks could look at Chance Adams to fill in for a start or two. Adams has been terrific at Triple-A in recent weeks, allowing just three earned runs in his last five starts combined, and would make for a possible streaming option this week if he does get the call.
National League Quick Hits: Walker Buehler struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in Sunday's 1-0 shutout of the Giants. The Giants managed just one double, four singles and a walk over Buehler's dominant seven frames, and they didn't fare much better about the bullpen en route to Buehler's third straight win. He improved to 7-1 with the victory, and after a rough start to the year he's now got a 3.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 78/13 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Cubs will have their hands full Saturday when the take on Buehler and the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. … Robinson Cano (quad) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse or Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday. Cano was placed on the injured list again earlier Sunday with a left quad strain, but evidently he is close to game-ready. He will be eligible for activation on June 16 and it sounds like he might have a shot to return at that time. … Christian Yelich went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Brewers' comeback win over the Pirates on Sunday. He's recorded 23 multi-hit effort in 59 games this season. We've simply run out of superlatives at this point. The reigning National League MVP is slashing an extra-terrestrial .340/.446/.745 with 50 runs scored, 53 RBI and 14 stolen bases across 258 plate appearances. … Noah Syndergaard tossed seven innings of one-hit ball in a win over the Rockies on Sunday. Syndergaard scattered one hit, struck out seven batters and only issued a pair of walks over seven stellar frames. The 26-year-old righty was virtually un-hittable and likely could’ve gone deeper if needed, but the Mets held a commanding six-run lead and likely didn’t want to take any chances. He’ll carry a 4.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 88/22 K/BB ratio in his next start against the Cardinals on Saturday. … Robbie Ray struck out 10 while allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Sunday's 8-2 win over the Blue Jays. Ray scattered five hits while walking one in this strong outing. This was Ray's third outing of double-digit strikeouts in 14 starts. On the whole this season, he is pitching to a 3.54 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 101/37 K/BB ratio across 76 1/3 innings. He still walks too many batters, but when Ray is on, he is capable of dominant showings such as Sunday's. Ray will try for another strong outing when he hits the road to take on the Nationals next time he toes the rubber. … Ronald Acuña went 1-for-6 with a three run homer and a walk in the Braves’ extra-innings victory over the Marlins on Sunday. Acuña launched a clutch, game-tying three-run homer -- his 14th round-tripper of the season -- off Marlins reliever Sergio Romo in the ninth inning. The 21-year-old burgeoning fantasy superstar has likely failed to live up to the lofty pre-season expectations of most fantasy owners, but he’s been truly exceptional at the dish this season, hitting .279/.363/.482 with 40 runs scored, 41 RBI and eight stolen bases across 287 plate appearances.
American League Quick Hits: J.D. Martinez (back) remained out of the Red Sox' lineup Sunday. Martinez hasn't played since exiting Thursday's game with back spasms. There's been no indication to this point that he will need an injured list stint, though. We’ll see. … Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have spoken with the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. Sherman notes that the Yankees have scouted Madison Bumgarner, as well, although it's unclear whether they've talked to the Giants about their ace. The Yanks were in on the bidding for Dallas Keuchel, as well, as it's clear that they would like to upgrade their rotation ahead of next month's trade deadline. Stroman is under team control next season, as well, while Bumgarner is slated to hit free agency this winter. … Nathan Eovaldi's (elbow) next scheduled bullpen session has been pushed back due to right biceps soreness. It looks like a relatively minor setback for now, but obviously we won't know that for sure until he's throwing pain-free again. Eovaldi had been poised to begin a rehab assignment soon, but obviously now that's on hold … Edwin Encarnacion went 2-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI as the Mariners trounced the Angels 9-3 on Sunday. The 36-year-old now has 20 homers, 46 RBI and 46 runs scored in 65 games, ranking among the best in the league in all three categories. Age, as they say, is just a number. … Brandon Lowe went 3-for-5 with a pair of solo home runs, three total RBI and three runs scored in Sunday's 6-1 win over the Red Sox. The infielder has been seeing the ball well of late even beyond Sunday's big showing, having now picked up multiple hits in three consecutive games and four of his last six contests. On the whole this season, Lowe is slashing a strong .288/.342/.544 with 13 home runs, 41 RBI and three steals over the course of 57 games played. … Jake Odorizzi struck out eight batters over six innings in a win over the Tigers on Sunday. He’s been on an extraordinary run, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 11 consecutive starts, dating back to April 10. He’ll carry a microscopic 1.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 78/22 K/BB ratio into his next start against the bottom-feeding Royals at home on Saturday. … Tom Murphy went 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBI in a win over the Angels on Sunday. Murphy has just 17 career homers but this actually wasn't his first two-homer game, with the 28-year-old having done it previously on September 17, 2016. He does have five homers in his last five games and has homered in three straight, giving him seven homers in 25 games this year. The backstop has a nine-game hitting streak to bring his season line up to .304/.329/.620.