HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve had just arrived in the Astros dugout after launching his third home run of the game when George Springer grabbed his right biceps and examined it, as if searching for an explanation for his teammate's extraordinary pop.
"He makes sure he stays on top of his gym routine, whatever it is," Springer said. "The dude is just a joke."
The major league batting champion put on an unprecedented show of power Thursday as Houston roughed up Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.
Buoyed by chants of "MVP" in each trip to the plate, the 5-foot-6 Altuve hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings off Sale. He connected again in the seventh off reliever Austin Maddox to give Houston a quick boost in the best-of-five series.
"As soon as I cross the white line, I feel the same size as everyone else," Altuve said.
It was just the 10th time a player hit three homers in a postseason game, and first since Pablo Sandoval for the Giants in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit. Babe Ruth did it twice (see full recap).
Bauer helps Indians blank Yankees in Game 1
CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius.
One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back.
Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York's other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series.
Bauer struck out Judge three times , twice getting the MVP candidate looking. He allowed just two hits in 6 2-3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball's best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter.
Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save.
Judge's verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York's clubhouse.
"He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well," he said. "You've got to tip your cap sometimes. We've just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow" (see full recap).