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Astros Storm into First Place. Down Rangers 14-1

Jose Altuve hit three homers in the first three innings. Four in a row and five in six ABs over last two games.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers
Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates after hitting a lead-off home run against the Texas Rangers 
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

First, let’s remember that there are 21 games left in the season. But let’s congratulate this current Astros team. Despite crippling injuries to numerous All Star performers and sub-optimal post-championship performances from too many other players, the Astros have fought back from a six game deficit to re-take their accustomed position of sole possession of first place in the newly tough AL West.

Although last year’s championship team was a pitching-first squad, it looks like the future success of the 23 edition depends on the offense. And right now, with the whole offensive squad healthy and hitting on all cylinders at just the right time, it might be enough.

Tonight, the Astros had 14 runs, 20 hits and five homers. Three of those were by Jose Altuve, who had four in a row including his ninth inning homer yesterday, and five homers over the two game span.

Altuve struck like lightning against Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi. On a 3-1 pitch, the Stros lead off hitter lifted one deep into the left field seats. It was his 35th career leadoff homer.

After Altuve’s dinger, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez singles, a Jose Abreu RBI fielder’s choice and a Chas McCormick RBI single got the Astros off to a 3-0 lead.

The Astros added three more in the second. Again Altuve scored the first run of the inning with another homer to left. This was all for pitcher Eovaldi, who was pitching for the first time in seven weeks.

Next, a Pena infield single, an Alex Bregman single, and a Kyle Tucker walk loaded the bases for Abreu , who singled in two more for the Astros’ second three-run inning.

The Astros added yet three more in the third. It started with a Dubon walk followed by Martin Maldonado homer.

And then....can you believe this....Altuve hit this third homer, this one to straightaway center.

I don’t think even Hollywood would try to write this script.

It was Altuve’s fourth consecutive home run including one in the ninth of the last game. In the fifth inning his groundout ended a streak of seven consecutive hits, five of which were homers.

The legend keeps growing. The golden years and the Altuve years. One and the same.

The Astros were quiet until the seventh inning. And then, they outdid themselves with a five-run inning. Back-to-back doubles by McCormick and Dubon scored the first run. Martin Maldonado followed with his second homer of the night, chasing Dane Dunning. But Jeremy Pena greeted Ian Kennedy with a single, followed by a line drive home run by Yordan Alvarez into the visitor bullpen in right field.

On this night when possibly a position player pitcher could have won for the Astros, we got good Framber. He went seven innings, allowing six hits, four walks, with four Ks. He had the ground ball mojo working, getting 10 batters out via the grounder.

The Astros won sole position of first place thanks to a Cincinnati Reds comeback win over the Seattle Mariners, 7-6. Down 6-3 in the eighth inning the Reds tied the score on a three-run pinch hit homer, and then they walked it off in the ninth.

Tomorrow, it’s future Hall of Famers Justin Verlander vs Max Scherzer on the mound. It will be the first time these legends and former teammates on two different teams have faced each other.

Get the brooms ready

Question: Who has the highest OPS on the Astros, Yordan Alvarez or Jose Altuve?

Answer: Altuve is .969, Alvarez .970.

Tomorrow, 7:05

Box score HERE.