3-0 green light a regular occurrence for Astros
Springer comes through for manager Hinch, who doesn't want to give away swings
HOUSTON -- George Springer was at the plate with the bases loaded, one out and a 3-0 count in the seventh inning on Monday. It came as no surprise that Astros manager A.J. Hinch gave him the green light.
Springer stroked an RBI single to center to tie the game, and Evan Gattis finished off the four-run outburst in the seventh inning with a two-run, bases-loaded single to lead the Astros to a 5-2 win over the Orioles at Minute Maid Park.
"We've had a lot of green lights this year," Hinch said. "I think you watch our team, we're a little unpredictable at times and we get a little bit big, but we can do a lot of damage on any swing. So I don't want to give any swing away."
The Astros entered the game 7-for-29 with the bases loaded, so the two big hits by Springer and Gattis were timely. Hinch admitted it might not have been the highest-percentage play, but he said the players are comfortable swinging at 3-0.
"He's got to get a good pitch to hit first and then you have to hit it hard, and George did all of that, so I like the aggressiveness," Hinch said. "The pitcher's really on the ropes there, so if you do have strike-zone discipline on that pitch, you can do a lot of damage."
By scoring four times in the seventh, the Astros have scored 94 runs this year in the seventh inning or later, which is by far the most in the Major Leagues. That being said, it was only the Astros' fifth win when trailing after six innings.
"I just think that this is a very resilient team and the last six through nine is always a good spot for us, and I think that's a good sign of things to come," Springer said.
Gattis, the burly slugger, appeared to cut down on his swing and poked a single to right off reliever Tommy Hunter to score Hank Conger and Springer for his 32nd and 33rd RBIs of the year. He leads the team in RBIs, and the Astros are 13-4 when Gattis drives in a run.
"It was out of the zone," said Gattis, who leads the American League with 32 RBIs since April 26. "I'm glad I got a piece of it and glad I could shoot it the other way. The at-bats before mine were kind of more impressive than me. Hank's base knock off the bench, George Springer 3-0 up the middle. Just a lot of things had to happen. [Luis] Valbuena hitting a home run early [in the fifth inning] that even put us in that situation."
Hinch labeled Gattis as an RBI hunter.
"I think he actually cuts his swing down more when guys are on base where it feels like he can, any contact will get a runner in," Hinch said. "And he did that. That ball's a little bit off the plate, it wasn't a particularly good pitch to hit, but he didn't try to do too much with it."