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Porter happy with Astros' approach at the plate

HOUSTON -- Unlike in 2013, when the Astros began the season with a record strikeout rate, manager Bo Porter has been pleased with the quality of the team's at-bats through the first two games. The Astros struck out 11 times in Tuesday's opener and only seven times on Wednesday.

That's in stark contrast to last season, when they struck out 28 times through two games and 56 times through four games en route to setting a club record.

"The approaches have been good," hitting coach John Mallee said. "The personnel, they have some of that in them. The addition of Dexter [Fowler] has helped out, because he's a high-on-base-percentage guy. You've got Robbie [Grossman] at the top of the lineup, and [Jose] Altuve's been more selective.

"It's nice to see guys manage their at-bats better, and they're taking to the advance reports we're getting and understanding how the opposing pitchers are trying to get them out. It's a combination of all that."

Though the Astros were hitting just .213 as a team through two games, nine of their 13 hits were for extra bases, and some of the outs were productive. Grossman advanced Fowler to third base with outs in his first two at-bats on Tuesday, and he sent him home in the third inning of Wednesday's game with a hard grounder that was ruled an error on Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

"I've been pleased with the at-bats, especially looking at the [situational] hitting and guys grinding at-bats out, and even some of the strikeouts," Porter said. "It's not like we're expanding the zone much. We're swinging at good pitches, and frankly, we've missed a couple of pitches that we probably could have hit hard. But at the same time, overall, the at-bats have been outstanding these first two games."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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