Correa, Altuve making each other better
Rookie shortstop, second baseman form an elite double-play duo
HOUSTON -- Astros rookie shortstop Carlos Correa is learning rapidly. In turn, he's pushing Jose Altuve, his double-play partner and locker mate. At least that's how manager A.J. Hinch sees it.
"They feed off each other, they're developing a nice friendship, a nice trust in that second base-shortstop position and it's key to have," said Hinch following the Astros' 9-6 loss on Saturday. "I'm proud of how Jose is introducing Correa to the big leagues and how Correa is going to push Altuve to be great."
Correa captivated the sold-out Minute Maid Park crowd of 41,133 in the fifth inning with both his glove and bat. He retired the bottom of the Yankees' lineup in the top of the inning with three sparkling defensive plays -- first snaring a line drive in shallow center field off the bat of Chase Headley before making two impressive stabs at back-to-back grounders, ranging to his left and spinning to nab Didi Gregorius before charging Jose Pirela's ball to end the inning.
When he came to the plate in the home half, Correa crushed Masahiro Tanaka's 2-0 pitch to the opposite field for a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 6-5. Altuve followed suit, golfing Tanaka's 0-1 pitch in the next at-bat into the Crawford Boxes to tie the score.
"It's really fun playing with that guy," Altuve said. "Great hitter, great defender. It's great to play up the middle with him. He was so excited for that home run."
Correa ended the game a triple shy of the cycle and with a bevy of dazzling defensive stabs. He's just one of eight shortstops in the past 50 seasons to reach base safely in 17 of his first 19 games, and his five home runs through his first 19 games are a franchise record.
"We play good baseball, we play hard and we play until the last out," Correa said. "I feel comfortable, I have a great group of guys here and it's a great lineup."
The fun wasn't just for the players. Hinch called the fifth inning the most exciting he's seen this season.
"Twenty-year-olds don't play up here very often and he's showing why he's supposed to be here," Hinch said of Correa. "The balance he showed, his athleticism, he rises to the moment. I think fans in Houston respond to him, teammates respond to him, he's playing at a high level and we're going to keep pushing him to be better and better."