OAKLAND -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa had no idea he had reached 100 career home runs Thursday night until he saw it on social media after the Astros’ 7-6 loss to the A’s. It was there he read that he had joined one of his idols, Alex Rodriguez, and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. in becoming the only shortstops to slug 100 homers before turning 25 years old.
Correa stepped out of the clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum and called his father, Carlos Sr., back in Houston to share in the joy of the milestone. The emotional call was a testament to how much father and son had worked to get Correa to become one of the elite shortstops in the game.
“It hit me,” said Correa, who homered twice for the Astros. “I called my dad and told him, and he was crying. Obviously, it was a lot of work put in to get where we are right now. It was an emotional moment. It’s very special.”
“Obviously, I wish we would have won the game, but to be able to reach 100 at such a young age it means a lot,” he said.
Correa’s milestone homer came on a hot night in the East Bay, where baseballs were flying out of the ballpark at a record rate. The Astros and A’s combined for 10 home runs -- five by each team -- which is the most in the stadium’s 52-season Major League history.
“Everybody hit them hard,” said Correa, who hit homers that traveled an estimated 437 and 417 feet, according to Statcast. “There were no cheap homers tonight. All of them were crushed, and that’s what happens when you hit the ball hard and at a good angle.”
Perhaps, but the warm temps -- it was 82 degrees at first pitch -- combined with a season in which baseball could experience a record number of home runs made for ideal conditions for hitters and a nightmare for pitchers. Of the 15 hits allowed in the game, 10 were homers.
“We hit some big ones, but it was a little bit of 2019 home run derby with the ball flying out of the ballpark everywhere,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Tough loss because we played well enough to win, especially when we got back to a tie game, but credit to them for swinging the bats the way they did.”
The game was actually a pitcher’s duel through three innings with A’s starter Mike Fiers retiring 10 in a row after a leadoff walk and Astros starter Aaron Sanchez setting down nine of the first 10 batters he faced. It quickly became home run derby.
Alex Bregman hit a two-run laser in the fourth, and the A’s answered in the bottom of the inning with a three-run homer by Matt Olson and a solo shot by Corban Joseph to take a 4-2 lead. The Astros got solo homers in four consecutive innings -- Correa in the fifth and seventh and Michael Brantley in the sixth and eighth. Olson and Chapman homered twice for Oakland.
“Just get the ball in the air nowadays,” Hinch said. “It was hot and the ball was jumping a little bit, but they hit some secondary pitches out as the game went on -- Olson, Chapman twice. Sometimes homers like that are unexplainable. Same with our guys. I mean, our guys were hitting the ball in the air just like they were.”
Brantley’s homer off Blake Treinen in the eighth tied the game, 6-6, but Chapman’s second homer -- off a Chris Devenski changeup to lead off the eighth -- put the A’s ahead, 7-6. A’s reliever Liam Hendriks kept Correa, Yuli Gurriel and Robinson Chirinos in the park in the ninth to close out the win.
“They hit the most important one at the right time,” Hinch said.
Olson’s homer in the fourth, which put Oakland up, 3-2, came after Sanchez fielded a comebacker off the bat of Chapman and tried unsuccessfully to throw to second to get Robbie Grossman, who had strayed from the bag. The throw was high and Grossman and Chapman were safe. Olson homered two pitches later, and the slugest ensued.
“Initially looking at it, I thought he made the right decision and threw the ball to second, maybe a touch high,” Hinch said. “I thought that was going to be a good, aggressive play, and it turned out to be an extra baserunner that scored.”