Gattis sets tone with four singles; 10 players reach base and eight score runs.
HOUSTON — There’s been a common label attached to this Houston Astros club.
“Too many times we get put in a corner a little bit about home runs being our identity,” said manager A.J. Hinch.
But the manager knows for his club to keep their 2 1/2 game lead in the American League West, it can’t rely solely on the long ball. Instead, it needs to be more like it was during Sunday’s 13-0 rout of Seattle.
Sure, Houston got home runs from Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez, but by the time they left the yard at Minute Maid Park, the Astros enjoyed a comfortable lead built by a constant barrage of base hits and aggressive baserunning.
“They weren’t the difference,” Hinch said of the two homers. “We piled up a lot of hits, a lot of baserunners to get to the lead that we got, and I like that out of our offense.”
Evan Gattis broke out of a 5-for-32 slump and tied his career high with four hits — all singles — by the fifth inning. Colby Rasmus, a career .215 hitter against lefties, had three RBIs and two singles against southpaw Roenis Elias.
Houston strung together two or more hits in four of the first five innings, scoring 11 of its 13 runs in that span. Every Astros starter aside from Chris Carter had a base hit, and Preston Tucker chipped in a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth.
“It was nice. A lot of run production, just timely hits, guys being on base,” Gattis said. “It’s easier to keep something rolling than get it started.”
Hinch didn’t shy away from the homer-happy moniker and didn’t debate its merits, but he was more encouraged by Sunday’s offensive onslaught and made clear that to achieve the goals the club has set forth, it will need to have more days like Sunday.
“To be a good offense, we’re going to need to have days like this where we get base hit after base hit after base hit to a good pitcher,” Hinch said. “As streaky as it can be, we demonstrate on days like today that we can have a humming offense.”