ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Next up, a trip to the Big Apple to face the major league-leading New York Yankees and slugger Aaron Judge, the only player who’s hit more homers than Álvarez this season.
“Whenever a player goes to New York and plays there, it’s just really exciting with the history of that team and the ballpark,” Álvarez said through a translator. “We know they’re a really good team so we’re just going to compete and try to win.”
Álvarez hit two of the season-high three homers allowed by Carlos Carrasco (8-3). The right-hander exited with lower back tightness in the third inning with the Astros up 5-1.
Álvarez, who also homered Tuesday night, now has 21 this season to move into a tie with Mike Trout for second-most in the majors — Judge has 27 after hitting two more Wednesday night.
The home run barrage by Álvarez in this series came after he missed Sunday’s game with a minor hand injury.
The 24-year-old Álvarez leads all players with a 1.064 OPS and has nine homers in his last 20 games.
Asked if this is the best he’s ever felt at the plate, Álvarez thought for a second before answering.
“It could be,” he said with a smile. “I’m not sure.”
Alex Bregman added a two-run homer for the Astros, who won their third straight.
The National League-leading Mets entered the series having won four of five games but continued to struggle in Houston, where they’ve dropped eight in a row.
“It was a great series,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m glad we won against a quality, quality team. We got good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. And now on to New York — another tough one.”
Houston starter Luis García (5-5) yielded six hits and three runs with five strikeouts in five-plus innings for the win. Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.
Carrasco yielded four hits and five runs in 2 1/3 innings before his injury. Though it’s unclear if the issue will keep Carrasco out for an extended period, it could be another blow for a team already missing star pitchers Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom with injuries.
After the game, Carrasco was asked how concerned he was about his back.
“No concern,” he said. “I think I’ll be fine. Just waiting for tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”
Jose Altuve got things going when he drew a leadoff walk before scoring on a double by Michael Brantley. Bregman’s homer to left field made it 3-0. Houston went back-to-back when Álvarez followed with his homer on a ball that landed in the bullpen in right-center.
Dominic Smith opened the Mets third with a double and advanced to third on a groundout by Tomás Nido. New York cut the lead to 4-1 when Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Nimmo.
There was one out in the third when Álvarez connected again, this time launching a fastball from Carrasco into the second deck in right field to make it 5-1. It was the fourth multi-homer game this season for Álvarez and first since May 30.
Carrasco walked Kyle Tucker before throwing two pitches to Yuli Gurriel and calling trainers to the mound. They talked to Carrasco for a minute before he left the game and was replaced by Yoan López.
García walked Nimmo to start the sixth and he scored on a double by Starling Marte to cut the lead to three. Francisco Lindor singled to chase García, and Ryne Stanek took over. Pete Alonso’s sacrifice fly scored Marte to get New York to 5-3.
Luis Guillorme doubled and Mark Canha walked to load the bases. The Astros preserved the lead when Stanek retired Eduardo Escobar on a popup before striking out Smith to end the inning.
Mets: Scherzer (oblique strain) could come off the injured list to start Sunday. Mets manager Buck Showalter said after the game he thinks the plan is for Scherzer to meet the team in Miami to make that start, but he had to talk to general manager Billy Eppler later Wednesday to confirm it.
Mets: New York is off Thursday before Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.88 ERA) starts Friday night in the first of three games at Miami.
Astros: Framber Valdez (7-3, 2.78) will pitch Thursday night for Houston in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
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