PHOENIX -- In the eight games since he was moved into the leadoff spot in the Astros' batting order -- after batting second all season -- right fielder George Springer has said repeatedly that he doesn't approach the top of the order any differently than any other spot.Even if that's
PHOENIX -- In the eight games since he was moved into the leadoff spot in the Astros' batting order -- after batting second all season -- right fielder George Springer has said repeatedly that he doesn't approach the top of the order any differently than any other spot.
Even if that's true, the results have been terrific and have helped propel the Astros to seven wins in their past eight games since putting Springer in the leadoff spot on May 24. They won their fourth in a row Tuesday afternoon by beating the D-backs, 8-5, at Chase Field.
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"I understand that the goal is obviously to get to first base," Springer said. "I do that hitting first, second, third, fifth -- it doesn't really matter."
Springer went 3-for-4, falling a triple shy of the cycle, with four RBIs Tuesday and is hitting .457 (16-for-35) with three homers and eight RBIs in the No. 1 spot ahead of Jose Altuve, who went 2-for-5 on Tuesday and is hitting .440 (11-for-25) in his past six games.
Although he didn't appear among the top vote-getters in the American League in the first update of All-Star Game balloting released Tuesday, Springer is building All-Star credentials. In addition to his Gold Glove-caliber defense, he's hitting .288 and leads the team in homers (12) and RBIs (33).
"I feel like George is having the best season that anybody's having in this clubhouse," Altuve said. "[He's] one of the leaders of the team, and for me, I'm going to do everything I can to get George in the All-Star Game, get people voting for him. He's a great guy, and he deserves to be there."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch jokingly said he didn't want to ask Springer about what's changed since he was moved to the leadoff spot for fear of jinxing him.
"His job to be a leadoff hitter is to be a good hitter first," he said. "What comes with that is a better hitter than when he tries to do too much and get too big. Whether it's mental or physical, I don't really care. I like the look of it, and I think he's made a conscious adjustment to try to set the table for Altuve, [Carlos] Correa, etc."
Springer ripped a double on the first pitch of the game against D-backs starter Patrick Corbin and then walloped a three-run homer in the second. Corbin struck out the first two hitters he faced in the second before Jake Marisnick doubled and pitcher Lance McCullers followed with his first career hit, setting the stage for Springer. He had an RBI single in the fourth.
"Any time you roll the lineup around, this is where being a leadoff hitter isn't about on-base percentage and isn't about being a cute little table-setter," Hinch said. "It's about doing damage. And it was nice to see George come up big. They've got to deal with him when the lineup turns, and that's a different type of threat."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.