Trevor Bauer

MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

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).

Best of MLB: Trevor Bauer tosses CG in Indians' 6th straight win

Best of MLB: Trevor Bauer tosses CG in Indians' 6th straight win

CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer threw a three-hitter for his second career complete game, Jason Kipnis hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight win.

Bauer (5-2) struck out 10, walked one and allowed only one runner past second base. It was the second straight three-hitter for the Indians, following Corey Kluber's in a 6-0 win over the Rays on Tuesday.

Kipnis' homer highlighted a three-run first inning off Chris Archer (4-10). Carlos Santana drove in two runs while Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor also had RBIs.

Cleveland leads the AL Central and has won 11 straight at Progressive Field. The Indians are also 11 games over .500 (41-30).

Corey Dickerson drove in the only run for Tampa Bay, which has lost seven straight (see full recap).

Hamels strong in Rangers' win over Reds
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cole Hamels struck out eight in six solid innings, Prince Fielder had a two-run single and the Texas Rangers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 on Wednesday night for a split in the two-game interleague series.

Ian Desmond hit his 12th homer for Texas after entering in the seventh inning on a night when the center fielder got a scheduled break from the starting lineup. Shin-Soo Choo led off the eighth with his second homer.

The Rangers, who have the American League's best record at 47-26, went ahead to stay with four runs in the fourth off Dan Straily (4-4). The Rangers had the bases loaded without a hit or a walk before Adrian Beltre had an RBI single and Fielder immediately followed with a hard liner to right.

Hamels (8-1) scattered five hits, walked two and allowed only one run while improving to 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five June starts since his only loss May 27 (see full recap).

Panik's two-run double caps Giants' rally
PITTSBURGH -- Buster Posey threw out John Jaso attempting to steal second base to end the game, Joe Panik's two-run double capped a three-run sixth inning, and the San Francisco Giants rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Wednesday night.

Panik put the Giants ahead after Ramiro Pena made it a one-run game with an RBI double earlier in the inning. NL West-leading San Francisco has won 11 of its last 13 and scored 73 runs in that stretch.

The Giants' Jeff Samardzija matched the shortest start of his nine-year career with just three innings and was tagged for six runs and six hits. However, five relievers followed with a combined six scoreless innings.

Rookie Derek Law (3-1), who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, pitched two innings after Samardzija for the win. Santiago Casilla worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his 15th save, the game ending when Posey caught Jaso attempting to steal after Gregory Polanco struck out -- with Andrew McCutchen on deck.

Jared Hughes (0-1) gave up all three sixth-inning runs (see full recap).