Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was surprised about long-time team-mate Carlos Correa's move to the Minnesota Twins.

The pair, who won the 2017 World Series together and were part of the Astros' side that lost last year's edition 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves, will be split up after Correa inked a bumper deal with the Twins.

Correa was declared a free agent for the first time in his career in November and rejected a qualifying offer from the Astros, before the Twins won the race to land him amid interest from several top teams.

Despite that interest and two-time All-Star Correa arguably being the most coveted free agent left on the market, the 27-year-old ended up with the Twins, who finished last in the American League (AL) Central last season with a 73-89 record.

"I was surprised. I wasn't expecting that," Altuve said. "Obviously we're going to miss him. He's a great player and a great guy inside the clubhouse. He was one of our leaders."

Altuve, who played alongside Correa since 2015, added: "Now that he's on another team, I'm happy for him. He got a great deal. Happy for him. I know he's going to play good. He's going to make the Twins better."

Shortstop Correa has reportedly signed with the Twins on a three-year, $105.3million deal, making him the MLB's highest paid infielder on average annual salary.

Correa is a career .277 hitter with 133 home runs, batting at .279 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs last season, along with claiming his first Gold Glove. Puerto Rico-born Correa finished fifth in AL MVP voting last season.

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was surprised about long-time teammate Carlos Correa's move to the Minnesota Twins.

The pair, who won the 2017 World Series together and were part of the Astros' side that lost last year's edition 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves, will be split up after Correa inked a bumper deal with the Twins.

Correa was declared a free agent for the first time in his career in November and rejected a qualifying offer from the Astros, before the Twins won the race to land him amid interest from several top teams.

Despite that interest and two-time All-Star Correa arguably being the most coveted free agent left on the market, the 27-year-old ended up with the Twins, who finished last in the American League (AL) Central last season with a 73-89 record.

"I was surprised. I wasn't expecting that," Altuve said. "Obviously we're going to miss him. He's a great player and a great guy inside the clubhouse. He was one of our leaders."

Altuve, who played alongside Correa since 2015, added: "Now that he's on another team, I'm happy for him. He got a great deal. Happy for him. I know he's going to play good. He's going to make the Twins better."

Shortstop Correa has reportedly signed with the Twins on a three-year, $105.3million deal, making him the MLB's highest paid infielder on average annual salary.

Correa is a career .277 hitter with 133 home runs, batting at .279 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs last season, along with claiming his first Gold Glove. Puerto Rico-born Correa finished fifth in AL MVP voting last season.

While the pain of World Series is still raw, Dusty Baker said the hurting Houston Astros will use it as a source of motivation to go one step further in MLB next season.

The Astros were unable to stop the red-hot Atlanta Braves, who clinched their first World Series title since 1995 with a 7-0 rout in Houston on Tuesday.

Houston needed to win Game 6 on home soil to force a championship decider, but there was no denying the Braves – who were fuelled by home runs from World Series MVP Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman.

The Astros – who were featuring in their third World Series in five years – and their big hitters were unable to get going, with postseason experts Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa blanked by Atlanta.

After a 4-2 series loss, veteran Astros manager Baker said: "Yeah, it's tough, but you know something? You've got to keep on trucking, and that gives you even more incentive next year.

"It's tough to take now, but this too shall pass. I mean, it really hurts, but it's over."

 

It could be an end of an era for the Astros, with World Series-winning star Correa set to enter free agency.

The Astros have already lost Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and George Springer (Toronto Blue Jays) in free agency over the past two years and the departure of two-time All-Star Correa looms large.

Veteran pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are also soon-to-be free agents.

"I was just thinking this is crazy how you spend — and you give your life and everything you have to an organisation and then one day you don't belong to the organisation anymore just in a matter of seconds," the 27-year-old Correa said post-game.

"So it's obviously tough to process."

"I hope it's not, that it's not over yet," Baker said of Correa, who debuted for the Astros in 2015. "He's a professional. He's a real leader. ... He doesn't give an alibi or any excuses. He just comes out and plays the game the way he's supposed to play it."

Baker added: "I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him. I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they're around second base. ... He just plays the game the way it should be played."

The Houston Astros brushed off any suggestions that they are using 2017's sign-stealing scandal as motivation ahead of their World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Houston will host the Braves in Game 1 on Tuesday, with the Astros featuring in the third World Series in five seasons.

Houston's 2017 World Series title remains shrouded in controversy the Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams on the way to winning the championship, as well as for part of 2018.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team after they were initially suspended.

The Astros have since regularly been greeted with jeers and boos in road games but manager Dusty Baker, who was appointed in 2020, insisted they were not out to prove people wrong.

"I don't think that's their main source of motivation," Baker told reporters on Monday. "I think people are trying to make it as their main source of motivation. That doesn't motivate you nearly as much as thriving to win and thriving for excellence.

"I think this team is way past that because they know they can play. You can only be driven by 'I'll show you,' or you can only be driven by negative motivation so far."

Houston infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are both holdovers from the 2017 roster but reiterated Baker's stance.

"I don't think the outside noise motivates us at all," said Correa, who has hit .297 with five RBIs and 11 hits this postseason.

"The guys inside [the clubhouse] - we motivate ourselves to just be better every single day, and you see the results on the field.

"I don't think we're playing here in the World Series because we're motivated to prove to people that we're a really good team."

Altuve, who hit .278 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs across the regular season, said he had not considered the sign-stealing scandal in the lead-up to the World Series.

"I haven't thought about that, but I think we have the same mindset we always have, just going out there and try to win," Altuve said.

"This is a pretty special team. Everybody just talks about winning. We all want to win. There's not a single guy who talks about something else."

Correa and Altuve were both crucial in offense for the Astros in 2017, recording 14 RBIs in the postseason, with both hitting two home runs in the World Series.

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker compared Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to NFL greats Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski after the star pair helped take down the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Altuve and Correa each homered for the Astros, who rallied to top the Red Sox 5-4 in Friday's ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Astros wiped out a 3-1 deficit behind Altuve's two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason home run as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th playoff homer – tied for seven-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th postseason RBI, the most among active players.

Baker hailed Altuve and Correa after the Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven matchup, likening them to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstars Brady and Gronkowski.

"It's kind of like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski," Baker said, with Brady and Gronkowski enjoying great success together with the New England Patriots and now the Buccaneers.

"They know how they think. They know probably what they eat for dinner, what they like and what their kids like."

Altuve became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs.

The World Series winner has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

"He is just so dangerous," Correa said of Altuve. "His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much."

"When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards," added Correa. "Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better."

Correa celebrated his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

"He is amazing. He likes this kind of game," Altuve said of Correa. "He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you're expecting something, eventually you're going to make it happen, and that's him."

Correa's heroics prompted the Astros star to drop his bat and point to his wrist after homering against the Red Sox.

"It's to my team-mates," Correa explained. "When the playoffs start, they always tell me 'it's your time now to go out there, hit homers.' They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.

"I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me 'if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it's your time'."

Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve lifted the Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Correa and Altuve homered as the rallying Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday.

The Red Sox, who stunned the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series (ALDS), led 3-1 early on the road – Kike Hernandez the architect with a solo shot in the third inning.

But the Astros wiped out the deficit behind Altuve and 6.1 scoreless innings from their bullpen.

Altuve levelled the game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason homer as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

The Astros star also became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs. Altuve has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th postseason homer – tied for seventh-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th playoff RBI, the most among active players.

It saw Correa celebrate his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

Hernandez – the fourth player to have multiple four-plus hit games in the same postseason, after Albert Pujols (2011), Robin Yount (1982) and George Brett (1985), homered again for the Red Sox in the ninth but it was not enough to prevent the Astros from winning.

Game 2 is back at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

 

Dodgers at Braves

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers will open their National League Championship Series (NLCS) at the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

There will be a winner-takes-all Game 5 in the National League Division Series (NLDS) after MLB World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided elimination with a 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants had the chance to book their spot in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) on Tuesday, but they were instead blown away by the Dodgers, who levelled the best-of-five matchup at 2-2.

Mookie Betts and Will Smith homered for the Dodgers in Los Angeles, where ace Walker Buehler gave up just one run on three hits while striking out four batters in 4.1 innings.

The deciding Game 5 will take place at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday.

 

Astros reach fifth straight ALCS

The Houston Astros will face the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after crushing the Chicago White Sox 10-1. Houston became the third team ever to appear in five successive league championship series. Astros star Carlos Correa tied Albert Pujols for the most playoff RBIs among active players after reaching 54, while Jose Altuve also hit his 19th postseason homer – matching George Springer and future Hall of Famer Pujols for fourth all-time.

 

Houston get to Hendriks and White Sox

On a rough day for the White Sox, closer Liam Hendriks conceded a three-run homer off Altuve in the top of the ninth inning. White Sox team-mate Michael Kopech allowed three runs on three hits in 0.2 innings.

 

Freeman sends Braves through

Freddie Freeman was the hero in Game 4, hitting a two-out home run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Atlanta Braves came from behind to top the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 en route to the NLCS. Freeman's 428-foot go-ahead bomb was the furthest opposite-field homer of his career. The Braves will feature in back-to-back championship series for the first time since they advanced to eight straight from 1991 to 1999.

 

Tuesday's results

Houston Astros 10-1 Chicago White Sox
Atlanta Braves 5-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 San Francisco Giants

 

Dodgers at Giants

NL West rivals the Dodgers and Giants will put it all on the line in Thursday's do-or-die showdown. Both teams have won an incredible 107 games this season as the Dodgers prepare to pit Julio Urias against Logan Webb.

Dusty Baker explained how "love" is the secret to public enemy number one the Houston Astros' success after they advanced to their fifth consecutive American League Championship Series (ALCS).

The Astros stormed through to the ALCS thanks to Tuesday's 10-1 rout of the Chicago White Sox – Houston becoming the third team ever to appear in five successive league championship series and the first to do so since the Atlanta Braves featured in eight straight from 1991 to 1999.

Houston have not been popular among opposition teams and fans after the Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams en route to winning the MLB World Series three years ago, as well as for part of the 2018 campaign.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by Houston in January after they were initially suspended for the entire 2020 campaign by the league.

Amid the backlash, the Astros have continued to perform and manager Baker hailed Houston, who will face the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.

"They've been doing that really since last year," Baker told reporters. "And then it was accentuated this year even more. I don't know if they feed off it necessarily, but we've been constantly bombarded by negatives, you know, especially on the road.

"But these guys, they came in – they come to play, and they love each other. And I remember talking to Bill Russell years ago, a few years ago, and I asked him, man, how did you win all those championships in Boston, and he told me, you know – I thought he was going to say Red Auerbach, you know lot of hard work, but he told me that they loved each other, and they love each other.

"Love can take you to heights you never thought you could get to. And they feed off of each other and pull for each other on a daily basis. And one guy falls down, and the next guy, you know, picks him up. And, boy, this was a heck of a series. It was a downer night before last whenever we played when we got beat pretty badly, but on a daily basis, they don't take one day into the next unless it was good. You know, I love this team, and the city loves them, and that's what counts."

Astros star Carlos Correa tied Albert Pujols for the most playoff RBIs among active players after reaching 54 on Tuesday.

Houston team-mate Jose Altuve also hit his 19th postseason homer – matching George Springer and future Hall of Famer Pujols for fourth all-time.

Baker hailed Correa, saying: "Carlos has been one of the greatest big game players in the history of the Astros and even the history of the game, and I don't hear him talking about it.

"He just wants to play for his team-mates and wants to win. You know, when you win, that puts pressure on the organisation to maybe do something in the future, and this is his home. I've heard him say that many, many times. You know, he grew up in this organisation and grew up in the city of Houston.

"Just like I was talking to him just like me, I grew up with the Braves as a kid, and then you grow into a man, you realise that business is business, but you still got to play with the enthusiasm of a kid, and you play for your teammates, and hopefully that transcends to something good for us in the future."

Houston Astros star Carlos Correa said he is preparing to become a free agent as the two parties struggle to agree a new contract.

Correa reportedly turned down a lucrative six-year deal worth $120million to re-sign with the Astros earlier this month.

The 26-year-old shortstop – selected first overall in the 2012 MLB Draft – helped the Astros to World Series glory during his All-Star season in 2017.

Correa doubts he will reach an agreement with the Astros, telling reporters on Thursday: "I'm preparing like I'm going to be a free agent this year."

Earlier this year, Correa said he would become a free agent if he was not re-signed by Opening Day on April 1.

Asked if there was room to move on his deadline imposed ahead of the season opener against the Oakland Athletics, Correa replied: "Absolutely not.

"Once the season starts and I start playing, I'm playing my last season before I become a free agent.

"For me, it doesn't make any sense to be dealing while I'm trying to focus and trying to perform and trying to help my team win ballgames. So, yeah, absolutely not."

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, Correa hit .264/.326/.383 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 58 games for the Astros.

In the postseason, Correa batted .362/.455/.766 with six homers and 17 RBIs as the Astros reached the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

"I understand it's a business and I know how it goes," Correa said. "There's never emotions involved. I've given five, six years of my career to this organisation -- Rookie of the Year, All-Star Games, World Series champions, multiple great playoff performances.

"And if they don't see me here long-term, then another team will. It's never hard feelings. It's a business and how it works."

Throughout his career, Correa has hit .276/.353/.480 with 107 home runs and 397 RBIs in Houston.

Correa – Rookie of the Year in 2015 – added: "When I share my feelings towards the city and towards the team, obviously, I love what we built here. I've been a part of it since I got drafted in 2012, when the team was losing 111 games.

"I kind of feel like I'm one of the leaders of the team and I love everything about this organisation, but at the same time, I know what I'm worth. I understand the business. I'm educated on this matter. I would love to stay, but it's gotta be the right deal."

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