LEADING OFF: Altuve ascends, NLDS opens at Washington, LA
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
IN FULL SWING
Jose Altuve is off to a smashing start in the playoffs, hitting three home runs in Houston’s 8-2 romp over Boston in the AL Division Series opener. The 5-foot-6 star tries to boost the Astros in the best-of-five matchup when Dallas Keuchel faces Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz at Minute Maid Park. Altuve, who led the majors in batting at .346 this year, became just the 10th player to hit three homers in a postseason game.
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs begin the playoffs when Kyle Hendricks faces Stephen Strasburg at Nationals Park. It remains to be seen how healthy Washington is — star slugger Bryce Harper returned slowly from a knee injury and there’s still no definite word when Max Scherzer will pitch after hurting his hamstring last weekend.
START HIM UP
Clayton Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, a five-time ERA champ and a seven-time All-Star. The lone blemish on his resume is his postseason mark — 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 games. The LA lefty opens the NL Division Series vs. Arizona at Dodger Stadium. Taijuan Walker will make his playoff debut for the Diamondbacks after ace Zack Greinke started and 15-game winner Robbie Ray relieved in the wild-card win Wednesday over Colorado.
Indians ace Corey Kluber starts Game 2 of the ALDS against the Yankees at Progressive Field, a day after Cleveland won the opener 4-0. The right-hander was 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six postseason starts last year, then went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA this season. Kluber went 2-0 during the regular season against New York, but didn’t face slugger Aaron Judge, who was slumping both times the teams met. Judge struck out all four times Thursday after homering in the AL wild-card win.
CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees — he spent eight seasons with the Indians, who drafted him in 1998 as a 17-year-old.
Outfielder Chris Young joins the Red Sox roster after designated hitter Eduardo Nunez was carried off the field with a knee injury in Game 1. Nunez pulled up running to first base on a groundout in the first inning and fell to the ground. Nunez missed 19 of the last 20 regular-season games with what the team called a sore knee. Nunez was removed from the postseason roster and Young added in a switch approved by the commissioner’s office.