Houston (CBS HOUSTON) — The Astros are officially within one game of .500 for the first time since winning their home opener.
Houston posted three runs in the first inning as part of an offensive barrage and rode another quality start by Doug Fister to a comfortable 10-7 win against the Angels on Monday night in Minute Maid Park.
At 35-36, the Astros have nearly dug themselves out of the 7-17 hole they created in April, and they’ve now won three games in a row.
Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Jason Castros each crushed home runs as all nine Houston starters reached base in a dominant hitting effort.
It began immediately against Los Angeles starter Jhoulys Chacin. The first two batters reached base and each eventually came around to score via Correa’s RBI fielder’s choice and Colby Rasmus’s single.
Carlos Gomez capped the frame with an RBI single and he went 3-for-4, extending his hit streak to six games.
“Early in that game we put up as good of at-bats in a row as we have all year,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
The centerfielder is finally heating up, as he’s now 12-for-24 at the plate during that stretch with four multi-hit games.
Meanwhile, Doug Fister settled in after escaping a first-inning jam. The veteran right-hander has inarguably been the best starter on staff this season, and he posted his 11 straight quality start with seven innings of two-run ball. Fister struck out five and allowed just four hits, moving his record to 8-3.
“[The early lead] didn’t affect the gameplan or the way I attacked hitters,” Fister said. “We stayed with what we thought would work, and I thought it went well tonight.”
The sinkerballer has earned seven straight wins, and Houston hasn’t lost since April 25 with him on the mound. It all makes for another legitimate notch on the belt for an All-Star nod, which would be the first of his career.
“He’s been our best starting pitcher,” Hinch said. “He’s making a strong statement to be considered, for sure.”
The Astros backed him up in a big way Monday, and they never let up, recording 15 hits.
Luis Valebuena and Evan Gattis spurred a three-run third inning and then Altuve uncorked one. The diminutive second baseman drilled his 11th home run this season an estimated 431 feet, well above the wall near the left edge of Tal’s Hill, in the fourth inning.
Hinch said Altuve called his shot — “That’s Altuve in a nutshell,” he said — though the two-time All Star was more modest in his recollection of it.
“I told [Hinch] before the fourth inning that I’m not going to hit it at the shortstop anymore,” Altuve said.
“I’m going to hit it somewhere else — could be anywhere, could be second base or to the centerfielder. And A.J. said, ‘Hit it over the fence.’ So I did it. But I didn’t mean to do it.”
For all the modesty, the long ball was another reminder that Altuve is having yet another career year. He is on pace for 25 homers, 90 RBI, 215 hits, 110 runs, 40 stolen bases and 50 doubles over a full season, while owning a .342 average and leading the American League in WAR (Wins Above Replacement player).
Correa got in on the home-run parade with a mammoth sixth-inning blast high above left-center field to put Houston up 9-2. Castro launched one nearly to the same spot an inning later for a solo shot.
By that point, the Astros were emptying the bench, though former Astros prospect Gregorio Petit briefly made it interesting with a massive grand slam off Tony Sipp in the ninth inning.
The teams meet again tomorrow night, with Collin McHugh getting the start. The righty was also on the mound for that home opener against Kansas City, but the Astros seem far removed from the doldrums of April by now.
“We’ve had a lot of breaks and bounces that haven’t gone our way so far this year, but guys are starting to make their own breaks,” Fister said.