Springer mashes 3 HRs for 1st time in career
HOUSTON – With Justin Verlander on the mound and a chance to clinch the American League West title, Astros outfielder George Springer ensured run support wouldn’t be a problem Sunday afternoon.
Springer became the second Astros player this season to bash three home runs in a game when he homered in each of his first three at-bats in the regular-season home finale against the Angels, sending Houston to a division-clinching 13-5 win at Minute Maid Park.
“I’m glad to help contribute,” Springer said. “Home runs don’t mean anything unless we win, and we won. That’s kind of all I care about.”
It’s the 14th time an Astros player has homered three times in a game. No Houston player has hit four home runs in a game.
“He can change the game from the first swing of the game,” said Verlander, who worked five innings for his MLB-high 20th win. “I know I didn’t like facing him when he was leading off. Obviously, he was the World Series MVP for a reason, and when it comes down to it, we have a lot of guys who are pretty special. I don’t know if there’s anybody else in the planet you’d like to have in a big situation than George.”
Springer homered in the first and second innings off Angels starter Jose Rodriguez and in the fourth inning off reliever Jose Suarez. His first-inning homer was his 12th leadoff homer of the season, which is one shy of the Major League single-season record of 13 set by Alfonso Soriano of the Yankees in 2003.
“I was just trying to get on base, honestly,” Springer said. “I’ll take it.”
Springer is the first Astros player to homer three times in a game since rookie Yordan Alvarez on Aug. 10 at Baltimore. He had tied Alex Bregman for the team lead with 38 home runs, despite missing 27 games earlier this year with a hamstring injury, but Bregman hit his 39th homer in the fifth.
“So impressive,” Bregman said. “He can do that at any time he wants. Pumped for him.”
All three of Springer’s homers went to left field and were hit about the same distance, according to Statcast -- 377, 379 and 375 feet, respectively.
“We were all waiting to get the lead so it would feel like we’re going to clinch, and George does it within the first couple of pitches,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “He followed it up with a couple more homers. We had really good at-bats throughout the day. Our vibe was really good today.”