Power beats precision as Astros measure ace
Valbuena, Altuve go deep off Greinke, who hadn't allowed two homers in a game in nearly one year to the day
HOUSTON -- Zack Greinke hadn't allowed multiple home runs in a game since Aug. 23, 2014, in a victory against the Mets.
Three hundred and sixty-four days later, Greinke ran into an Astros team that's clubbed a Major League-leading 168 long balls on the season.
Power beat precision on Saturday, when the Astros took Greinke deep twice in the first six innings in a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers. In the second inning, Luis Valbuena hammered his team-leading 22nd, a shot into the bullpen in right field -- projected by Statcast™ to land 411 feet from home plate -- on a full-count, four-seam fastball that Valbuena said was spotted well.
"And I hit it good," Valbuena added.
Then the diminutive Jose Altuve fired a shot into the Crawford Boxes in the sixth, again off a four-seam fastball, to give him 10 home runs for the first time in his Major League career and continue a season that's seen Altuve add power to complement an already stout, speedy swing.
Well, he hasn't necessarily "added" it, according to one teammate.
"Look at the numbers, me against him. Yeah, I've known about it for a while," Astros starter Scott Kazmir joked. "He's got some power. Look at the eighth-inning highlights on the jumbotron, it reminds me."
Before becoming his teammate, Altuve gave Kazmir fits, hitting .520 in 25 at-bats against him with three doubles and a home run.
Altuve's 10th homer now gives the Astros nine players with double-digit home runs, tying a franchise record set in 2000 that they're sure to break, seeing as Carlos Gomez has nine and Hank Conger is right behind with eight.
"No," Altuve said when asked if he was surprised at the team's high home run total. "I think the only surprise would be me. Everybody knew they were going to hit homers, they're really good."
Altuve said the potent lineup and those who surround him make his life easier in the batter's box. Pitchers, he said, often don't want to test the likes of Gomez, Evan Gattis or Colby Rasmus, so they'll pitch to him in hopes he can get the ball on the ground.
As Greinke found out Saturday, that's not always the case.
"Good swings and the wrong game plan for me," said Greinke, who saw an 11-game unbeaten streak snapped. "It's how their team plays. I had some good pitches, just not quite good enough today."