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Alvarez and Singleton hit long homers in the 1st inning to help Astros avoid being swept by Yankees

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NEW YORK (AP) — Yordan Alvarez and Jon Singleton each hit long homers in the first inning for the Houston Astros, who beat the New York Yankees 4-3 on Thursday night to avoid being swept in the season series.

Alvarez, who was 3 for 32 with no homers in his previous nine games entering Thursday, hit a two-out solo shot off Marcus Stroman (2-2) into the second deck in right field measured at 116.8 mph.

“When he hit it, he looked in the dugout (as if he was) saying ‘Hey, I’m coming,’” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “And we know he’s coming and we can’t wait for him to get here.”

Alvarez helped lead the celebration in the dugout two batters later, when Singleton hit a two-run homer off the facade along the third deck in right field clocked at 115.4 mph. It was only the ninth time in Stroman’s career he surrendered two homers in an inning.

“Stroman’s a good pitcher, typically he stays out of the middle part of the plate,” Singleton said. “He made a pitch down the middle and that’s all I could hope for.”

Television cameras captured a wide-eyed Alvarez saying, “Whoa!” as he leaned along the railing. Told of Alvarez’s reaction, Singleton grinned.

“That means I hit it real well,” Singleton said.

The Astros are the first team in the Statcast era (2015-present) to hit two homers measured at 115 mph off the bat in the same inning. The homers were the hardest-hit balls against the Yankees this season.

Jeremy Peña had two hits, including a fifth-inning RBI single, for the Astros, who were outscored 40-18 in the first six games this season — all losses — against the Yankees, whom they beat in the AL Championship Series in 2017, 2019 and 2022.

Houston, whose 13-24 start is tied for the fifth-worst record in franchise history through 37 games, has never gone winless against an opponent in a season series lasting longer than six games.

“That was a big win for us,” Peña said. “We needed that and we’re going to try to build off that.”

Anthony Volpe hit a two-run homer off Ronel Blanco (4-0) in the third, while Aaron Judge hit a 473-foot solo shot clocked at 115.7 mph off the bat against Ryan Pressly in the eighth. Per Statcast, Thursday marks the first time three homers measured at 115 mph or more were hit in the same game.

Josh Hader retired Anthony Rizzo to strand Alex Verdugo at first to end the eighth and then worked around a leadoff single by Gleyber Torres in the ninth to earn his fourth save. It was the first time Hader recorded more than three outs in a save since Aug. 14, 2020.

Volpe had the Yankees’ lone hit in 16 plate appearances with a runner on base.

“I loved how the guys kept scratching,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Blanco allowed four hits and walked four with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. He threw a career-high 107 pitches — including 14 against Rizzo during a fourth-inning at-bat during which the Yankees first baseman fouled off 10 straight pitches before whiffing on an 86 mph changeup.

“My goal there was for him not to get on with a free pass,” Blanco said via an interpreter. “He was going to have to get a hit off of me right there.”

Stroman gave up four runs and a season-high nine hits over 5 1/3 innings.

“Can’t let up three in the first,” Stroman said. “Just feel like I don’t give my team a chance when I do that.”

MINOR MOVE

The Yankees claimed RHP Colby White off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays and assigned him to Double-A Somerset. White, 25, has a 2.83 ERA in four minor league seasons, but was 0-2 with a 17.61 ERA in nine games at Triple-A Durham before being designated for assignment last Friday. He was selected by the Rays in the sixth round of the 2019 draft.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Pressly, who’d been battling a sore lower back, pitched for the first time since last Friday. … RHP Jose Urquidy (right forearm) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Sugar Lake. Manager Joe Espada said Urquidy will throw 60-65 pitches. … RHP Cristian Javier (neck) will come off the injured list to start against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

Yankees: IF DJ LeMahieu (right foot) will continue ramping up this weekend, when he accompanies the team to Tampa Bay for a three-game series against the Rays. … OF Jasson Dominguez (Tommy John surgery) is expected to begin a rehab assignment within the next two weeks.

UP NEXT

Astros: Continue a six-game road trip Friday night, when LHP Framber Valdez (1-1, 3.97 ERA) starts against the Tigers and RHP Casey Mize (1-1, 3.98 ERA). Valdez has given up seven runs in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts since missing three-plus weeks due to a sore left elbow.

Yankees: Begin a six-game road trip Friday night, when RHP Clarke Schmidt (3-1, 3.50 ERA) takes the mound against Rays RHP Taj Bradley, who’s making his season debut. Schmidt has allowed three runs or fewer in 32 starts dating the beginning of 2023, the second most in the majors behind Sonny Gray (33).

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By JERRY BEACH
Associated Press

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