Astros trim magic number to win AL West to 1

September 21st, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Astros worked quickly Friday night to make sure they had done their part, bashing three homers in the first inning to jump out to a five-run lead over the Angels. It was up to pitcher to hold it, which he barely did for five innings, before the Astros could turn their attention to the scoreboard.

After beating the Angels, 6-4, at Minute Maid Park to reduce their magic number to clinch the American League West to one game, the Astros will have to wait until Saturday for another shot to pop champagne after the second-place A’s bashed the Rangers.

The Astros will send to the mound Saturday looking for a win, which would give them their third consecutive AL West title.

“We can feel the excitement and we’re anxious about things right now,” said second baseman , who led off the first with his 30th homer.

With their sixth consecutive win, the Astros (101-53) stretched their lead over the Yankees for best record in the Major Leagues to 1 1/2 games with eight games to play. Houston is 59-20 at home, including 31-5 against AL West foes.

“I can’t compliment our team enough on the mindset we had,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “I know a lot of people think certain parts of the season were foregone conclusions and the talent on this team is supposed to produce these wins, but it’s not easy. We don’t read our own press clippings. We don’t really care where people rank us or where people think we are. We show up to win.”

Altuve, and each homered in the first inning against Angels starter Jaime Barria for a 5-0 lead. Correa added a solo homer in the third. Altuve’s 30th homer gave the Astros a club-record four players with at least 30 homers, joining Bregman (38), George Springer (37) and Yuli Gurriel (30). Bregman’s 38 homers are the most for an Astros player since Lance Berkman walloped 45 in 2006.

“It just speaks to the depth on this team and the talent on this team and these guys have done tremendous things, both on an individual basis and as a team,” Hinch said. “I’m very proud of these guys. The numbers will be where they are at the end of the season, but needless to say this is a special group of guys that are accomplishing some special things throughout that clubhouse.”

Altuve has 30 homers despite missing 35 games with a strained hamstring.

“It’s like a dream come true,” he said. “A lot of people thought I couldn’t play in the big leagues and they keep telling me, ‘No, no,’ and then all of a sudden I hit 30 homers. It’s pretty cool.”

Correa, playing his second game since coming off the injured list with a back injury, had his first mutlihomer game in more than a year. He swing looked free, easy and unrestricted and he was rewarded for some good cuts.

“Today was a positive day,” Correa said. “Obviously, you see a lot of confidence. I spent like three hours in the mirror yesterday fixing my mechanics. It paid off.”

Greinke (17-5) improved to 7-1 in nine starts with the Astros by allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings. He didn’t walk a batter for the fourth consecutive start, extending his streak to 23 innings without a walk. The Angels scored three times in the fourth after Greinke gave up five straight hits to start the inning.

“Greinke was not that sharp,” Hinch said. “He got nickeled and dimed a little bit with some seeing-eye singles. They pieced together some good at-bats, one after another. I haven’t seen him give up like four or five or six hits in a row. The execution, doesn’t mean it was bad. Just means they put up some pretty good swings. Getting out of it was most impressive because it was a big part of the game where I was going to have to go get him.”