Altuve's historic night powers Astros over Red Sox in series opener

Jose Altuve is on top of the world right nowJose Altuve is coming off an incredible season for the Houston Astros that put him in the conversation for AL MVP, but it appears he saved his best for the playoffs. Altuve hit three home runs on Thursday to help the Astros open their postseason by beating the Boston Red Sox 8-2, becoming the 10th player in MLB history to accomplish the feat.

Altuve is the first player since 2012 to hit three homers in a playoff game, and he’s the first Houston player to do so in 10 years—regular season or playoffs. His homer-happy game was made all the more impressive by who was on the mound for most of it: Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who finished the season with only 24 home runs allowed in 32 starts.

Altuve sent Sale’s offering into the standing room in left-center field in the first inning after Alex Bregman opened the scoring with a homer of his own, and Altuve found basically the same spot in left-center with his second home run in the fifth inning, which effectively ended Sale’s evening. Boston’s relievers didn’t fare much better against Altuve, who sent an Austin Maddox changeup over the wall in left field in the seventh for Houston’s final run of the ballgame.

The run support was more than enough for the Astros’ pitching led by Justin Verlander, who held the Red Sox to two runs on six hits over six innings. The win improved Verlander to 6-0 since joining Houston, and he’s now 5-0 with a 2.24 ERA in the ALDS. With Dallas Keuchel set to start Game 2 on Friday, the Astros appear to have gained the upper hand against Boston in terms of pitching, putting them in a good position to gain a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The Red Sox will also be without Eduardo Nunez as they attempt to even the series. Nunez aggravated a leg injury in the first inning of Thursday’s game after sitting out most of September, and he isn’t likely to return to Boston’s lineup until the World Series, should they make it that far. The Red Sox added Chris Young to their active postseason roster to replace Nunez, who will undergo more testing before the team determines his injury status.