George Springer hits first-pitch homer in ALCS Game 5


Astros manager Dusty Baker said prior to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Petco Park on Thursday that he was hoping his club would jump out to an early lead, concerned about how the shadows would affect the offense later in the game. His leadoff hitter took

Astros manager Dusty Baker said prior to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Petco Park on Thursday that he was hoping his club would jump out to an early lead, concerned about how the shadows would affect the offense later in the game. His leadoff hitter took those words to heart, smacking the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall.

George Springer was the hero of Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday, launching the deciding two-run blast in the fifth inning of the Astros’ 4-3 victory over the Rays. On Thursday he gave his team a 1-0 lead with a homer on a 94.5 mph heater over the middle of the plate from Tampa Bay starter John Curtiss that landed in the first deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Though no fans are permitted inside Petco Park, players have a few loved ones in the stands, and one particularly special guest made his appearance in the owner’s suite. Third-base coach Gary Pettis, who has been away from the team while being treated for cancer, was sitting beside Houston owner Jim Crane. The Astros had been hanging Pettis’ jersey in the dugout to make sure his presence was with the team. As Springer rounded the plate, he pointed up to Pettis, who did not hide his excitement over the long ball.

The ball exploded off Springer’s bat at 115.8 mph, his second-hardest homer tracked by Statcast. It was just the 10th time on record (and first for Houston) that a home run came on the first pitch a team has seen, dating back to the start of complete pitch-count data in 1988.

Here are MLB’s postseason HR leaders

Not only did Springer’s 19th career postseason homer move him to the top of the Astros’ franchise leaderboard, it tied him with Albert Pujols for fourth on the all-time playoff home run list. With one more, Springer will move into a tie for third place with Derek Jeter.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.





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