Astros plate 21, stay in Wild Card driver's seat
PHOENIX -- The Astros hit four home runs in support of left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who recorded his 20th win, as Houston moved a step closer to its first postseason berth in 10 years with a 21-5 rout of the D-backs on Friday night at Chase Field.
George Springer (second inning) and Carlos Correa (fourth) hit solo homers, and Colby Rasmus added a two-run shot in the sixth and was followed by a Luis Valbuena homer in a back-to-back effort that made it 10-2. The 21 runs set an Astros franchise record.
"It was a good night for us," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We swung the bats extremely well, from the beginning all the way to the end and really did a lot of damage. So I was proud of our guys. We showed up at the right time, and what a game. We haven't had a game like that in a long time, and it was nice to be on the winning end of that."
The Astros trail the American League West-leading Rangers by two games with two remaining and lead the Angels by one game and the Twins by two for the AL's final Wild Card spot. Houston would clinch a postseason berth on Saturday with a win at Arizona and an Angels loss at Texas.
Houston also trails the Yankees by 2.5 games for the top Wild Card spot, which is significant because the Astros won the season series, 4-3. If Houston can clinch a Wild Card spot and catch New York, the game would be played at Minute Maid Park.
"I'm going to tell you something," Correa said. "The atmosphere in the clubhouse is great. Everybody wants to win, everybody wants to go to the playoffs and everybody is on the same page. I think what you saw today was the atmosphere we have in the clubhouse -- trying to go out there and perform and help in some way to win games."
Keuchel (20-8) held the D-backs to two runs on six hits in six innings to become the Astros' first 20-game winner since Roy Oswalt went 20-12 in 2005.
"Yeah, it's hard to reach, especially as specialists have become more and more common, starters have gone less and less over the years," Hinch said of the 20-wins mark. "To be in the game and either have the leads protected or finish your own outings is a rarity nowadays. It's hard to be in position to win that many games out of 30 starts, 30-plus starts."
The Astros jumped on D-backs starter Rubby De La Rosa (14-9) for three runs in the first -- including a two-run, bases-loaded single by Chris Carter -- and they didn't let up, plating six runs on six hits in three innings off the righty. Rasmus, starting in place of the injured Carlos Gomez, went 2-for-4 with four runs scored and three RBIs.
"They really swung the bats well, and we didn't pitch very well tonight," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "That's just the way the game is. If you don't locate pitches on their hitters, they're going to hurt you. And they did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Correa leads bats' big night: Correa's Astros rookie record 22nd homer led a power surge by the Astros, who clubbed at least four homers in a game for the seventh time this season. Their 227 home runs are the second-most in the Majors behind the Blue Jays, who hit a pair on Friday to give them 229. Correa added a three-run triple in a seven-run seventh and fell a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
"I wanted [the cycle], but Skip told me I'm done," Correa said. "I'm not going to be like, 'Hey, I want to play. I want a double.' It would be selfish to think about myself and being ready for the next day in case something happens that gets me hurt when the game is not even close." More >
Nice first homer: D-backs rookie Peter O'Brien hit a pinch-hit homer in the fifth inning that was projected by Statcast™ to land 471 feet from the plate. It was the first homer of O'Brien's career, and it came in his seventh Major League plate appearance.
"I was just trying to stay to the middle of the field and stay short and I ended up putting a good swing on it," O'Brien said.
Keuchel gets No. 20: Keuchel became the eighth different Astros pitcher to reach 20 wins in a season and only the second lefty, joining Mike Hampton (22-4 in 1999). He has made a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award and could wind up pitching for the Astros if they make the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Tuesday.
"Twenty games for anybody is something special," Springer said. "Especially for him to go out and do what he did all year and whenever he had the ball we expect to win, and he won 20 times, which is incredible." More >
"He didn't sneak up on anybody. This guy's been as consistent as anybody, which is why he's arguably the best pitcher in the American League," -- Hinch, on Keuchel
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the fifth inning, Socrates Brito grounded out to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Hale challenged first-base umpire Jeff Nelson's out call, but the ruling was allowed to stand, as the replay official could not definitively determine whether Brito's foot touched the bag prior to the ball contacting the back of first baseman Carter's glove.
Astros: Collin McHugh (18-7, 3.98 ERA) makes his final start of the regular season in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. CT game against the D-backs at Chase Field. He's 12-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 18 starts since June 18.
D-backs: Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 4.60) will get the call for the D-backs on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. MST. The right-hander has a 2.45 ERA over his last two starts.
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