Springer (2 HRs) passes Ruth in playoff blasts

October 7th, 2020

Move over, Bambino and Big Papi. Get ready, Mr. October and The Mick. Make room for Springer Dingers.

“It’s the postseason, and he has a history,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of .

Springer has a history of making history. With a third-inning, two-run homer off Oakland starter Sean Manaea and a fifth-inning solo shot off reliever Yusmeiro Petit, he not only powered the Astros to a 5-2 win over the A’s in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, but he also elevated his name in the record books -- passing Babe Ruth, Jayson Werth and ex-teammate Carlos Beltrán and moving into the top 10 on MLB’s all-time postseason home run list.

“He’s not missing pitches that he should hit,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “And he’s hitting them out. And boy, it’s fun to watch him perform like this.”

Springer is now tied for seventh with Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz and Jim Thome at 17 homers. Springer, Cruz and Thome are also tied for the most postseason big flies in 54 career games or fewer. Springer already owns the Astros’ all-time record, and he trails only Albert Pujols (19) among active players. Another homer would move Springer into the top five all-time, tying him with Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle.

“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Springer said. “I’d much rather us win.”

Though Springer entered the game batting .324 for his career off Manaea, he hadn’t yet homered off his longtime division foe in 34 at-bats, his longest span without a big fly against any pitcher. That changed when Manaea’s full-count breaking ball was elevated just enough on the outer half of the plate for Springer to lift and pull to left-center.

“If you hang a slider, he’s going to hit it hard,” Manaea said.

On another hot afternoon at Dodger Stadium -- game-time temperature was 90 degrees -- Springer got enough of it to send it out. But Springer has generally crushed at Chavez Ravine for most of his career. He improved to 20-for-45 (.444) with seven homers and 14 RBIs in 11 career games at what is usually a National League park; this year, it is serving as the home stadium for every game in this series.

Springer has as many postseason homers at Dodger Stadium (five) as any Dodgers player, tied with Joc Pederson and Steve Garvey. Only Jackson (six) has more there. He’ll have a chance to tie Jackson as a member of the “home” team in Game 3 on Wednesday, which is forecast to be a slightly cooler afternoon with temperatures in the low 80s.

“I really just try to enjoy the moment, and that’s it, to be completely honest with you,” Springer said. “As far as the way that the ball flies, I don’t play here all year, so I don’t know if this is normal, if it’s not normal, night as opposed to day, whatever. I just kind of take the elements for what they are. I mean, it’s hot; that’s kind of the only thing I can really speak to, and I go from there.”

Springer’s first home run Tuesday gave the Astros a 2-1 lead after Khris Davis’ solo homer opened the scoring for Oakland the previous inning. Springer initially thought he might have a play on that ball in center, but he struggled with the sun to track it as it carried over the fence.

Once Martín Maldonado’s fifth-inning solo homer chased Manaea, Springer greeted Petit by jumping his first-pitch cutter and sending it 403 feet to left for a no-doubt homer and a 5-2 lead that held the rest of the game.

“It’s fun, really fun to watch,” Maldonado said. “That’s a guy, I feel like he does the same thing every year. It is unreal the stuff that he’s been doing lately. That’s a guy that probably loves being in that moment.”

Maldonado is watching this firsthand for the third consecutive postseason. Baker is enjoying it for his first playoff run in Houston.

“You’ve come to expect it,” Baker said. “This guy’s a tremendous ballplayer, tremendous athlete, and his concentration level rises during these times.”

With a chance to send the Astros to their fourth consecutive ALCS, that level isn’t likely to drop Wednesday.