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 chopped slugger Aaron Judge and New York's other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as the Cleveland Indians began chasing their 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 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, who struck out for the fourth time and angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen worked the ninth for a save.
Bruce connected for a two-run homer in the fourth off Sonny Gray and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth as the Indians began a journey to try and end the majors' longest Series title drought.
Bauer was Francona's surprise pick to start Game 1 over ace Corey Kluber, and the eccentric right-hander, perhaps best known for slicing a pinkie open while repairing a drone during last year's postseason, delivered a performance that started October just right for the Indians.
Kluber, an 18-game winner during the regular season, will start Game 2 on Friday against CC Sabathia (see full recap).