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Astros send reminder: 'It's a scary lineup'

@brianmctaggart
August 5, 2020

This was exactly what Astros manager Dusty Baker had in mind when he gave George Springer a “clear-your-mind” day off Wednesday following a dismal first six games at the plate that included only one RBI, on a solo homer the second day of the season. A rejuvenated Springer and a

This was exactly what Astros manager Dusty Baker had in mind when he gave George Springer a “clear-your-mind” day off Wednesday following a dismal first six games at the plate that included only one RBI, on a solo homer the second day of the season.

A rejuvenated Springer and a red-hot Carlos Correa have helped spearhead an Astros offense that is averaging six runs per game through the first 10 games of the season. Houston’s deep offense, which has been without 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and saw leading hitter Michael Brantley sit out Tuesday with a quad injury, has scored at least eight runs four times after beating the D-backs, 8-2, on Tuesday at Chase Field.

Box score

“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs -- eight runs, six runs,” Correa said. “I think when everybody clicks at the same time, it’s going to be scary. We’re still missing Yordan Alvarez, who’s going to be with us hopefully soon. When everybody starts clicking, it’s a scary lineup we have.”

Since going 1-for-21 to start the season, Springer is 6-for-16 with nine RBIs in four games after a 1-for-4 performance Tuesday in which he drove in three runs. That included a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning that allowed the Astros to blow open the game.

“You put the runners out there, George seems to get locked in with runners on base,” Baker said. “How many leadoff guys drive in 90 runs? That’s the name of the game, driving in runs. Not only getting on and scoring runs, but driving them in, too. He’s hot this road trip. I said, ‘Hey, c’mon, George, you can get even hotter.’”

Correa, meanwhile, reached base in all five of his plate appearances Tuesday and is slashing .388/.488/.639 through 10 games. He homered off D-backs starter Madison Bumgarner in the second inning and added two singles to the opposite field and two walks.

“The thing about it is he’s covering the ball away and he’s pulling the ball, he’s taking what they’re giving him,” Baker said. “When they throw outside, he hits it to right, and when they throw it inside, he hits it to left. His pitch recognition is way ahead of most guys at this point, and his balance is good. He’s worked hard.”

Correa said he’s trying to look for pitches down the middle of the plate that he can drive early in counts.

“I think I’m getting a better understanding of what I’m good at and the pitches I can drive,” he said. “I’m trying to get the pitch I want to drive, and it’s not there, hold off. I want to be aggressive early. Last year and the couple of years before, I felt like I was taking too many strike ones.”

Springer was aggressive against Bumgarner, taking just one pitch in his first four plate appearances. His second-inning sac fly put the Astros ahead, 2-0, and his bases-loaded double in the fifth keyed a five-run inning that pushed the lead to 8-1.

Much of the damage the Astros have done this year has been the result of free bases, leading to more opportunities to drive in runs. Houston is averaging 5.1 walks per game after adding four more walks Tuesday, as well as reaching base four times on hit by pitches, including three by Bumgarner.

Astros starter Cristian Javier beat Bumgarner by holding the D-backs to one run and four hits in six innings for his first Major League win in only his second start.

“I think Javier is going to be the rotation for a long time,” Correa said. “He’s nasty. He’s got great stuff. I like his composure on the mound. The kid’s got it all.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.