The bats were hot early, the temperature was not. The Houston Astros pieced together five runs in the first inning of Friday’s contest with the Washington Nationals in the stadium they hadn’t played in since Game 5 of the 2019 World Series.
Only one run followed for the Astros, as Yordan Alvarez tried to keep pace with Aaron Judge — Major League Baseball’s home run leader. Alvarez looks to be the best designated hitter or one of the best outfielders, or however you look to categorize him, in baseball.
The lefty launched his 11th home run of the season Friday, trailing only Judge who has 12. While the bats mashed early, Framber Valdez found himself dealing into the eighth inning, continuing a masterful stretch of pitching from the Astros’ starting staff and adding relief to a worked bullpen.
Through the Astros’ 11-game win streak, manager Dusty Baker has climbed even higher on the all-time win ladder.
Dusty Baker returned to Washington D.C. on Friday for the first time since he managed Game 5 of the 2017 National League Division Series for the Nationals. Washington’s current manager — Dave Martinez — was oddly enough Baker’s starting centerfielder in his first-career managerial win on April 6, 1993 with the San Francisco Giants.
With Friday’s win, Baker moved to 10th all-time in managerial wins, passing Leo Durocher, with 2,009 wins. Another coincidence for Baker’s long career is Durocher was the Chicago Cubs manager on June 10, 1969 when Baker made his second-MLB start.
His next hurdle comes at 2,041 wins — the number he needs to pass Walter Alston and move into ninth all-time which he will surpass sometime this summer. Baker was honored by the Nationals pregame with a video for his contributions to the organization in 2016 and 2017 as well as eclipsing 2,000 wins.
The Astros return to play at 6:05 p.m. Saturday in the second game of a three-game set with the Nationals.