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World Series notebook: With no DH, no guarantee Yordan Alvarez in Astros lineup for Game 3

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez walks to dugout after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Scott Audette / Associated Press)
Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez walks to dugout after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Scott Audette / Associated Press)
By Stephen Whyno Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Even though rookie Yordan Alvarez is one of the Houston Astros’ hottest hitters in the World Series, there’s no guarantee he will be in the lineup for Game 3.

Manager A.J. Hinch said he was leaning against starting Houston’s usual designated hitter in left field at the Washington Nationals on Froday night because of defensive concerns. Alvarez was 3 for 6 with two walks as the Astros lost the first two games at home and has started just nine games in the outfield during his rookie season. With no DH in the National League ballpark, Hinch is concerned about the cavernous left field at Nationals Park and the team he’s facing.

“While I think we need as much offense as we can get, certainly with runners in scoring position, I think it also is smart when you’re facing a team like the Nats that put the ball in play, that challenge you with an up-tempo, fast style of play, there’s the other side of the ball, as well,” Hinch said Thursday.

Hinch said offense is as “important as it can be unless we don’t make a play in the outfield and I’ve got two guys out of position and we give up runs that way.”

Alvarez made one error and had one assist in left field this season while playing the field for 66 innings. He’s a defensive downgrade from regular left fielder Michael Brantley.

After hitting 27 home runs with 78 RBIs in 87 games this season, the 22-year-old Alvarez has shown flashes of having a big impact on the World Series, like Nationals rookie Juan Soto. Alvarez has rebounded after going 1 for 22 in the AL Championship Series.

“Baseball is about adjustments, and I’ve made some, worked on them and I am seeing results,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “They are mechanical adjustments and mental adjustments.”

Hinch said he didn’t expect to bench Alvarez for the entire stretch of the series in Washington.

“I remember getting this question in the middle of the season when Yordan came up and we went to a couple of National League ballparks,” Hinch said. “‘Hey, if you’re in the World Series you’re going to need him in the outfield.’ I’m like, Hey, just give me that problem, and now I have that problem. Be careful what you wish for, but it’s a good problem to have.”

Greinke the hitter

Astros Game 3 starter Zack Greinke has spent parts of nine seasons in the NL and hit .280 in 56 plate appearances this season with Arizona and Houston. He had a pair of home runs at San Diego on April 2 and one off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw on June 24.

“He’s familiar with the bat and he can move things around,” Hinch said. “We can hit and run. He can bunt. He’s a very, very smart baseball player.”

Greinke had debris thrown at him at Yankee Stadium during the ALCS. Hinch expects a hostile environment for Washington’s first World Series game since 1933 but hopes that issue doesn’t resurface.

“I don’t know what the Nats fans are going to be like,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “I know they’re going to be loud. I know it’s going to be exciting here. They waited for a long time for this opportunity. I can’t control that kind of stuff. We know that they’re going to be loud.”

Corbin 4 sure

Martinez said Patrick Corbin will start Game 4 on Saturday, following Anibal Sanchez in Game 3. Corbin tossed one scoreless inning of relief in Game 1.

Corbin is 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA in the postseason, though only two of his appearances have been starts.

AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.

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