Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa homer in ALCS Game 1 2021

HOUSTON – They have been the heart and soul of the Astros in best and worst times, through the 2017 Championship parade and the boos in the visiting sites that followed. Thick and thin are the waters that Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have sailed in their now 64 playoff games together, the most of all time among a second base and shortstop tandem.

And in what could be their swan song in the middle of the infield at Minute Maid Park, Altuve and Correa were rightly the ships behind the edge of your Houston seat, winning 5-4 in Game 1 of the series. American League Championships Friday night.

Altuve smashed a two-run equalizer in the sixth inning against Tanner Houck, then Correa hit Hansel Robles’ decisive shot in the seventh, his fourth homer in the playoffs in the seventh inning or later, most in AL / History From the Netherlands.

“It’s a bit like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski, ”Astros director Dusty Baker said of the Correa-Altuve relationship. “They know how they think. They probably know what they eat for dinner, what they like, and what their children like. It’s a special relationship that will last forever because once they are done playing they will come back to many teams that won in 17 or teams that won here and teams that won there. – and they are a big part of it. “

Beyond the importance in the context of the game, these circuits also propelled Altuve and Correa in the rankings of the book of records. Altuve was his 20th in the playoffs, which tied him with Derek Jeter for third all-time, but he accomplished the feat in 68 games against 158 ​​for Jeter.

“Derek Jeter is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, the best person to ever play the game, and just to hit so much. [postseason] circuits like him mean a lot to me, ”said Altuve.

Correa was his 18th in the playoffs, pushing him to tie for seventh with Nelson Cruz, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle, true October Titans.

“They’re all special in their own way,” Correa said when asked to rank his playoff exploits. “Obviously, this one is the most special because it is in the present tense. It is now.

Manny Ramírez holds the all-time crown, with 29, and Bernie Williams, whose 22 is second, is within reach for Altuve and Correa if Houston sinks deeper into these playoffs. Just ahead of Correa, at 19, is Albert Pujols and their former teammate, George Springer.

Obviously, there’s the caveat that last year’s playoffs included an expanded scope and round, going beyond the Wild Card expansion in 1995, for which many stars of yesteryear didn’t. were not there. Yet the statistical distinctions of Altuve and Correa keep repeating themselves, and more than anything, these two say they thrive in these October times because they live for them.

Altuve now has a .961 playoff OPS after his 1-on-3 night, which also included an insurance run against sacrificial flies in the eighth. Correa, who went 3-for-4, now wears a .902 playoff OPS. Of the 305 players with at least 100 batting appearances in the playoffs, Altuve ranks 10th and Correa, 27th. Their numbers are also significantly higher than their all-time regular season scores of .821 (Altuve) and .837 (Correa).

Of course, all of those numbers will be called into question when all is said and done after the sign-stealing saga of 2017. But these Astros have apparently embraced their black hat role this season, and they’ve led their offensive assault. . in October under pressure.

When Correa crushed that 90.8 mph, medium-high change from Robles, he immediately dropped his bat and tapped his left wrist to ask for the time, claiming after the game that the gesture was an inspiration from his teammates : “When the playoffs start they always say to me, ‘It’s your turn now to go out there, hit home runs’, this and that. They told me to strike the watch when I hit the circuit.

“He wants to go out there and hit some big home runs,” Altuve said. “Looks like he expects to go out and do it, so if you wait for something, you’ll get there eventually, and that’s him.” He is the leader of our team. He’s the main reason we’re in the playoffs.

Correa needed a man of setup though, especially when the Astros were lagging behind for much of the game and started the night 0v6 with runners in scoring position – until Altuve arrived.

“Honestly, every time Jose hits in the playoffs I feel like he’s going to hit a home run,” Correa said. “He’s so dangerous. His playoff record is insane and he just inspires me. “

Correa’s impending free agency has been a well-told topic all season, but especially now after leading all positional players with 7.2 WAR, by Baseball-Reference, and his timeline to the free market is so close. These could be among the last games he shares the diamond in with Altuve, and he plans to make them count.

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