Astros go back-to-back twice in 5-HR party
Gattis, Rasmus go deep in third; Altuve, Valbuena follow suit in fourth
HOUSTON -- After watching the Mariners blast three solo home runs in the second inning, including two in back-to-back fashion, the Astros managed to one-up them Saturday night in an 11-4 victory at Minute Maid Park.
"They post that inning and someone in our dugout says, 'Hey, we've still got 24 outs left,'" Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. They didn't need that many.
Houston launched back-to-back home runs in consecutive frames as its response during the third and fourth innings. The individual back-to-back efforts were their first of the season and already put the Astros halfway to their 2014 tally of four. After a slow start in the slugging department this season, the Astros have seven home runs in the last two nights.
Few embody that power outage and sudden surge better than Evan Gattis. He started the long-ball barrage in the third inning, drilling a go-ahead two-run shot to the Crawford Boxes for the second time in as many games. He now has four home runs this season. Colby Rasmus followed with an arching liner that cleared the fence in right-center, practically mirroring his second-inning double that just stayed in the park.
"Right now, we're just rolling. There's tons of fight here," Gattis said.
The Astros chased Seattle starter Taijuan Walker with another pair of round-trippers in the fourth. That was a feat in itself, as the Mariners' flamethrower went 2-0 against Houston last year while striking out 13 over two starts. Eight runs (seven earned) and three-plus innings was all he could muster against Houston this time.
"I definitely think we both had our struggles against the offenses tonight, both teams just hitting a lot of hard balls," said Astros starter Collin McHugh. "It helps a lot when your team scores 11."
Jose Altuve continued his monster season after going hitless in his first two at-bats. The second baseman hammered a ball to the deepest alley in the park with runners on first and third to put Houston up, 8-3. He now has an 11-game hitting streak. His streak of nine multihit games, which tied a franchise record, came to an end with a 1-for-4 night.
Even some bloopers found their way into the seats. Moments after the Mariners yanked Walker, Luis Valbuena's routine-looking fly ball carried just far enough down the left-field line for his sixth home run in 2015. Hank Conger got into the act in the seventh, yanking a solo home run to a similar spot for the first right-handed home run of his career.
The teams combined for nine home runs in all, a Minute Maid Park record. As of Saturday night, the Astros lead the Majors with 37 homers.