HOUSTON -- The Astros, in their long history, have never had a player hit four homers in a game. Perhaps nobody has come closer, though, than Vinny Castilla, who became one of 12 players in club history to slug three homers a game when he did it on July 28, 2001, at the Pirates.
Castilla hit a solo homer in the second, a three-run homer in the fifth and a solo homer in the eighth, helping Houston to an 8-2 lead it blew in the ninth inning, when Brian Giles hit a walk-off grand slam off Billy Wagner to complete a stunning comeback. It was also Giles that robbed Castilla of what would have been a fourth home run when he made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth inning.
Still, Castilla’s big day at the plate remains one of the greatest single-game hitting performances in club history. But is it good enough to be considered one of the Top 5?
Here are the Top 5 single-game hitting performances in Astros history:
1. Jose Altuve, Oct. 5, 2017, vs. Red Sox
The Astros’ march to the 2017 World Series championship began with an electrifying performance by American League MVP Jose Altuve in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox. Altuve became the ninth player in Major League history to hit three home runs in a playoff game, leading Houston to an 8-2 win.
Altuve capped his legendary game when he hit a 1-1 pitch from reliever Austin Maddox and sailed it over the left-field wall to mark the 13th time an Astros player hit three homers in a game -- the first since Carlos Lee on April 13, 2007, at Philadelphia. Altuve was the first player to hit three homers in a playoff game since Pablo Sandoval did it for the Giants in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series.
"Obviously, I was thinking that it feels really good, another run, supporting my team, but in the personal side, it's kind of like crazy," Altuve said. "I never hit three homers, so this, what happened today, is new for me, and I'm really happy that it happened in a playoff game."
Altuve went 3-for-4 with 12 total bases, which was one shy of tying the club record.
2. Jeff Bagwell, June 24, 1994, vs. Dodgers
In the middle of the his remarkable National League MVP campaign in 1994, Bagwell went 4-for-5 with three home runs -- including two in one inning -- six RBIs and a club-record-tying 13 total bases in the Astros’ 16-4 win over the Dodgers at the Astrodome.
Bagwell homered twice in the sixth inning during a nine-run outburst by the Astros and added a solo shot in the final at-bat in the eighth. He became the first Astros player to homer two times in an inning since Lee May in 1974. The club’s all-time leader in homers, Bagwell homered three times in a game twice in the 1999 season and remains the only Astros player to do that three times.
3. Yordan Alvarez, Aug. 10, 2019, at Baltimore
En route to being named unanimous AL Rookie of the Year, Alvarez put on a show in Baltimore by going 3-for-5 with three of Houston’s six homers, four runs scored, seven RBIs and 12 total bases in Houston’s 23-2 bashing of the Orioles.
Alvarez’s career night -- which featured a solo homer in the first, a grand slam in the seventh and a two-run blast off Orioles center fielder Stevie Wilkerson in the ninth -- led an Astros onslaught in which they set franchise records for most runs and extra-base hits (13) in a game.
4. Joe Morgan, July 8, 1965, at Milwaukee Braves
The future Hall of Famer set a club record by collecting six hits, going 6-for-6 with four runs scored, two home runs and three RBIs in a 9-8 loss in 12 innings to the Braves in Milwaukee. His 13 total bases set a club record that has been matched only three times since -- Bagwell in 1994, Morgan Ensberg in 2005 and Lee May in 1974.
The only other Astros player to have six hits in a game is George Springer on May 7, 2018.
5. J.R. Towles, Sept. 20, 2007, at St. Louis
A former top prospect, Towles left his mark in only his sixth game in the Major Leagues when he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, one homer, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a club-record eight RBIs in an 18-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The homer was his first in the Major Leagues.
Towles’ eight RBIs broke the previous franchise high of seven, which had been accomplished four times, including twice by Bagwell (2000 and '01). The others to do it previously were Pete Incaviglia (1992) and Rafael Ramirez (1989). Yuli Gurriel matched Towles with eight RBIs on Aug. 7, 2019.
Unfortunately for Towles, that was the highlight of his career. He drove in only 42 runs and hit 10 home runs in the rest of his Major League career, which spanned 155 games with the Astros from 2007-11.