MLB playoffs: Yordan Alvarez comes up huge again as Astros push Mariners to the brink in ALDS Game 2

MLB's 12-team postseason bracket has already been whittled down to eight contenders. Now, the top two seeds from each league have joined the fray in the Division Series. After advancing directly to their ALDS and NLDS slots via byes, the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves are taking on challengers.

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Game 1 in Houston saw the Astros snatch a victory from the Mariners in heroic, historic fashion. They move on to Game 2 Thursday with Seattle ace Luis Castillo on the mound, looking to claw back a game before returning home. In a twist, that will be the only Game 2 on Thursday. The scheduled contest between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians was postponed to Friday afternoon because of rain in the Bronx.

Another clutch Yordan Alvarez homer lifts Astros to 2-0 series lead

He struck earlier this time, but Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez struck again. His two-run homer in the sixth inning squeaked out just enough to beat an excellent outing from Mariners starter Luis Castillo. The Astros now have a commanding 2-0 series lead as the series heads to Seattle.

The hero of Game 1, Alvarez came to the plate in the sixth with Houston trailing, 2-1, and rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña standing on first base. Castillo, working to win another key game for his new team after coming over at the trade deadline, pitched Alvarez carefully. It didn't matter. His second 98 mph sinker off the plate left the park, as Alvarez flicked it into the Crawford Boxes in left field. The next time he came up, in the eighth, the Mariners didn't pitch to him at all, intentionally walking him to face Alex Bregman, who also made them pay with an RBI single.

Although Astros starter Framber Valdez struggled with his command at times, walking three, he allowed only two runs (one earned) over 5 2/3 innings. Hector Neris got a huge out to escape the sixth and set up Alvarez's blast. Closer Ryan Pressly worked around a walk and a Julio Rodriguez double to finish off the 4-2 victory.

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