HR-happy Astros set club mark, top A's again

Houston wins home opener, improves to 5-0 vs. Oakland in '21

April 9th, 2021

HOUSTON -- The Minute Maid Park roof was open on a pristine Thursday night, a loud and energetic crowd was into every pitch and the balls kept flying out of the ballpark at a record pace. It was such a good night for the Astros that second baseman Jose Altuve later said it was “like a dream come true.”

For the A’s, it was more like a nightmare. Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez and Altuve each slugged solo homers as the Astros continued their early-season dominance against the A’s with a 6-2 victory in their home opener before 21,765 fans -- the first time Houston played in front of its own fans since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

“Tonight was a perfect night for us,” Altuve said.

Through seven games, the Astros (6-1) have clubbed a franchise-record 15 home runs, a mark which also leads the Major Leagues, and they have scored 51 runs, which is second to only the Reds (57). Houston has scored at least six runs in all but one game and has outscored Oakland 41-11 in five games between the American League West rivals, all of which have been Astros wins.

“This team can hit, and they worked hard in Spring Training,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I’ve never seen guys hit so much. They hit in the morning before practice, they hit during practice, they hit after practice. … These guys, they enjoy hitting. I didn’t have any expectations. I’d like to see when the bottom of the order starts rolling.”

Correa led off the second inning with an opposite-field homer to right off Oakland starter Cole Irvin that just snuck into the first few rows of the seats. Paired with his two-run homer in the ninth inning on Tuesday, that gave Correa homers in consecutive at-bats, as well as allowing the Astros to tie a franchise record by homering in seven consecutive games to start a season.

Alvarez, the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner who missed most of last season following surgeries on both knees, is 10-for-30 to start the season with two homers and eight RBIs. He led off the sixth with a 405-foot blast to the second deck in right field off Irvin that made it 3-0.

“I don’t think we’ve seen our best yet,” Baker said. “[Alex] Bregman is swinging the bat better. Yordan, he’s the one that probably exceeded expectations, because I didn’t know what to expect coming out of Spring Training with his legs. It’s a good feeling to pencil him in every day.”

Altuve, coming off a tough 2020 season, is 9-for-29 (.310) to start the year, and he slugged his first homer at Minute Maid Park before fans -- and second at home overall -- since his walk-off blast to beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2019 AL Championship Series. This one, which traveled 426 feet, went to a similar part of the ballpark in left-center field to lead off the seventh.

“I hit the ball pretty good,” Altuve said. “I had a lot of energy through the game, because the fans were cheering for us since the first inning. That’s enough to motivate you and encourages you to go out there and keep swinging the bat.”

And swinging the bat, the Astros are.