Singleton's 2nd-half turnaround a timely one
HOUSTON -- Battling to earn an everyday role for Houston, Jon Singleton entered Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Angels with 16 strikeouts, a .171 average and still in search of his first home run.
And with the imminent return of Jed Lowrie -- whom Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced will start at third base on Thursday -- Singleton's roster spot was in limbo.
Singleton asserted he doesn't think like that, nor does he let that pressure get to him. A game like the one he delivered Wednesday always helps, too.
After becoming the first Astros baserunner of the game on a third-inning walk, Singleton mashed his first home run of the season in the seventh to pad a tenuous 3-1 lead, and he ripped an RBI single up the middle an inning later to up his average to .316 since the All-Star break.
"To be honest, I think it's game speed," Singleton said when asked why his hitting has spiked. "The game is slowing down for me a little bit. Just trying to see the ball really. Not trying to do too much at the plate, just trying to see the ball and hit it good. I'm just trying to keep it as simple as possible."
Reliever Roberto Hernandez was designated for assignment after the game, meaning Hinch now needs to juggle a lineup with three players, Singleton, Chris Carter and Marwin Gonzalez, who've seen action in a game at first and a fourth -- Luis Valbuena -- who has taken grounders there.
Though Singleton came into the game with the lowest batting average of the quartet, he refused to allow the looming possibility of a roster move to hinder his performance.
"I don't let those kind of things creep in my mind," Singleton said. "Jed's been around for a while, and we all want him to get healthy and come back strong. It's definitely going to be a difficult situation with so many guys, but we're all out here going to compete."
Hinch called the juggling act he'll have to perform "a good problem to have," especially given the way his lineup has produced throughout the order in its first two wins of the series. In both Tuesday and Wednesday's wins, eight of nine starters had hits.
And, specifically for Singleton to keep his spot, Hinch expects the same production.
"Jon can help us win," Hinch said. "Tonight we had a good night, and we hope we have more nights like this, whether he's coming off the bench or I choose to give him a start. He can provide some sort of offense, whether in the DH role or in the 1B role.
"We believe in Jon. A night like tonight validates he can contribute at this level, but clearly as we get going, for Jon and for all our players, productivity is going to be key to stay in the lineup."