Peña’s 18th-inning HR sends Astros past Mariners for sweep

Oct 15, 2022, 7:51 AM | Updated: Oct 16, 2022, 4:01 am
Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregma...

Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregman (2) during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregman (2) during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregman (2) during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregman (2) during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) breaks his bat during an out against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
            
              Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais, left, greets starting pitcher George Kirby (68) during the seventh inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodriguez (44) slides safely into second base for a double under Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve during the eighth inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh, left, reacts after Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) struck out during the ninth inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
            
              Seattle Mariners's Julio Rodriguez reacts after stealing second base during the 13th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Fans hold up cell phone lights as Houston Astros relief pitcher Luis Garcia (77) warms up during the 15th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              A worker changes the scoreboard in a scoreless game during the 15th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
            
              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates a home run against the Seattle Mariners with Alex Bregman (2) during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena (3) hits a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
            
              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena celebrates after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Houston Astros' Jeremy Pena (3) celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

SEATTLE (AP) — Jeremy Peña and the Houston Astros just kept going. Scoreless inning after scoreless inning, as day turned into night in front of a frenzied crowd in Seattle.

They eventually found a way. That’s how the Astros reached the AL Championship Series for the sixth straight year.

It’s just what they do.

Peña homered in the 18th inning, and the Astros beat the Mariners 1-0 on Saturday for a three-game sweep of their AL Division Series.

“These guys, they know not to panic,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “They don’t get too excited. They don’t get too down. It means a lot.”

Peña drove a slider from Penn Murfee deep to left-center for the rookie’s first playoff homer, providing the only run in an afternoon full of dominant pitching and empty trips to the plate.

The 18 innings matched the longest game in playoff history and the 6 hours, 22 minutes was the third-longest in time.

Exhausting for everyone? Absolutely. But exhilarating for the Astros.

“Man, that was a long game. But you still got to lock in, try to put together good at-bats,” Peña said. “I was just trying to stay inside the baseball, drove it in the gap.”

Spoiling Seattle’s first home playoff appearance since 2001, Houston continued its ALCS streak that began with its 2017 World Series title. Next up is the New York Yankees or Cleveland Guardians in Game 1 of the ALCS on Wednesday.

While Yordan Alvarez got the big hits in the first two games in Houston, it was Peña that set the table for Alvarez’s opportunities. As Game 3 made its way into its sixth hour, Peña delivered another painful blow to the Mariners that ended their short return to the postseason.

“We all know that we belong here now and we all know what it takes to get here and get beyond this point,” Seattle shortstop J.P. Crawford said.

After 21 years, Seattle fans welcomed playoff baseball back inside T-Mobile Park. They got their money’s worth, and then some.

Three previous playoff games reached the 18th inning, one involving Houston. The Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 18 innings in Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS on Chris Burke’s game-ending homer.

Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS between San Francisco and Washington and Game 3 of the 2018 World Series between Los Angeles and Boston also went 18 innings.

But those games had runs. This one failed to produce anything until Peña’s swing on a 3-2 pitch.

“I feel like in the playoffs you can’t try and do too much, especially the later the game goes,” Peña said.

Seattle’s best scoring chance was Julio Rodríguez’s line drive that thudded off the wall in the eighth. The Mariners had runners in scoring position in the 13th and 17th, but couldn’t get a key two-out hit against Houston’s superb bullpen.

Unlike baseball’s regular season, there is no automatic runner when playoff games go to extra innings.

“They pitched great. They played a great series. They beat us,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “In my mind, and I think our players’ mind, is a break here or there goes our way in this series, it could have been a lot different. But end of the day, they got the big hits in each of the games and they end up winning them.”

Luis Garcia worked five innings for the win. The Astros bullpen allowed five hits and struck out 15 following six innings from starter Lance McCullers Jr.

“Watching the whole thing the guys are doing a really good job and I’m really proud of them. … I was just trying to help,” Garcia said.

Seattle’s bullpen was nearly just as good. After rookie George Kirby threw seven innings, nine Mariners relievers combined for 11 innings of five-hit ball.

The teams combined to strike out 42 times, topping the postseason record of 39 set by the Guardians and Rays last week in their AL wild-card matchup that was scoreless for 15 innings before Oscar Gonzalez’s home run sent Cleveland to the ALDS.

“Their pitching was phenomenal today as well. We kept putting the zero up there and kept putting the zero up there and you think we’re going to be able to break through because we have so many times,” Servais said. “It’s kind of what we’re accustomed to playing — those tight games and finding a way but there were no errors made in that game today.”

Houston advanced despite a rough performance for Jose Altuve, who went 0 for 8 in Game 3 for the first time in his career and was hitless in 16 at-bats in the series.

Altuve joined Xander Bogaerts in Game 3 of 2018 World Series versus the Dodgers as only players to go 0 for 8 or worse in a postseason game. But Houston’s other pieces came through, none bigger than its young shortstop who took on a prominent role after Carlos Correa departed in free agency.

Peña’s homer was his only hit in eight at-bats. But it was his contributions in the first two games that helped Houston travel to Seattle with a 2-0 lead in the series.

“In a team like this, with the pitching we have, with the defense we have, we never give up,” Altuve said. “We went out and played every single inning like it was the last inning. Putting everything we have, until Jeremy came and hit the big homer.”

KING RETURNS

Felix Hernandez threw out a ceremonial first pitch to a deafening ovation. Hernandez spent 15 seasons with the Mariners but never had the opportunity of pitching in the postseason. He won 169 games and had a career 3.42 ERA, last pitching for Seattle in 2019.

HE SAID IT

“We’re not going to forget this and coming into next year it will fuel us even more,” Seattle outfielder Jarred Kelenic said.

SMOKEY AIR

Seattle’s return to the postseason was played with a smoky haze and terrible air quality engulfing the Puget Sound region. A shift in winds and wildfire still smoldering in the Cascade Mountains created a dingy haze above T-Mobile Park. The air quality index in Seattle at first pitch registered at 161.

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Japan players jubilate at the end of the World Cup group E soccer match between Japan and Spain, at...
Associated Press

Japan summons samurai spirit against Croatia at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Japan defender Yuto Nakatomo has told his teammates they’ll need to show “samurai spirit” in Monday’s round-of-16 match against Croatia at the World Cup. And they’ll need another quality that Nakatomo learned playing for almost a decade in Italy, mostly with Inter Milan. “Coraggio,” Nakatomo said. “We need to play with […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Lawrence hangs on to win South African Open

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thriston Lawrence held on to win his home South African Open despite a final-round 2-over 74 at the Blair Atholl course on Sunday. Lawrence started the day with a two-shot lead over Clement Sordet of France and despite extending his advantage to five strokes early on the back nine, the South African […]
1 day ago
Former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger stands on the tribune before the World Cup group G soccer match ...
Associated Press

FIFA official Wenger knocks teams protesting at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA official Arsène Wenger took a shot at World Cup teams who tried to make political statements in Qatar, saying Sunday they lacked focus for their first games. Wenger said teams who had a good opening game were mentally ready to focus on the competition and “not on political demonstration.” The […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Neymar applauds fans at the end of the World Cup group G soccer match between Cameroon and...
Associated Press

Brazil waits on Neymar for South Korea game at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Whether Neymar is in the lineup, on the bench or resting for a third consecutive game will depend on how he performs in Brazil’s last training session ahead of its round-of-16 match against South Korea on Monday at the World Cup. The Brazil star missed two group-stage matches with a right […]
1 day ago
Weston McKennie of the United States leaves the pitch at the end of the World Cup round of 16 socce...
Associated Press

American soccer success in World Cup remains a dream

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — American soccer success in the World Cup remains a dream. The U.S. team looked better in this year’s World Cup, but the results were the same as in 2010 and 2014. The Americans were eliminated in the round of 16 following a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday. “We’ve shown […]
1 day ago
Australia's Aziz Behich is comforted after losing the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Ar...
Associated Press

What’s next for Australia after World Cup exit?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Australia’s World Cup adventure came to an end against a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina. A 2-1 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium matched its best-ever performance at soccer’s biggest tournament by reaching the round of 16 for only the second time in its history. EXPECTATION VS. PERFORMANCE Drawn in Group D […]
1 day ago
Peña’s 18th-inning HR sends Astros past Mariners for sweep