OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) With the two best games of his career coming on consecutive days, designated hitter Evan Gattis has quickly transformed into the Astros‘ hottest hitter – and their current good luck charm.
He’s got a franchise record to prove it, too.
Gattis hit two home runs, including the first of back-to-back shots with Marwin Gonzalez during a seven-run second inning, and the streaking Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 13-5 on Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.
One night after homering and setting a career high with five RBIs, Gattis drove in five again, becoming the first player in franchise history to drive in five in consecutive games.
”It was fun to watch our guys respond to his continued damage at-bats,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. ”They’re taking his helmet off and rubbing it all over themselves and they’re trying to get as close to him as they can. They want whatever he’s eating, whatever he’s doing during the games.”
Gattis had a sacrifice fly in the first inning, hit a three-run home run off A’s starter Paul Blackburn (1-1) in the second then went deep again with a solo blast off Emilio Pagan in the seventh. Gattis also walked in the eighth.
”He’s white hot,” Cole said. ”Just a great approach right now. He’s obviously put the team on his back a little bit.”
Gattis’ 10 RBIs in two games also ties an Astros record, but the big slugger wouldn’t say he’s necessarily locked in at the plate.
”It never feels like it,” Gattis said. ”You’re about to go hit a ball with a stick and you’re going to get out 70 percent of the time. You have to enjoy the good stuff if you’re going to get mad about the negatives in the game.”
Cole allowed a season-high four runs over six uneven innings, including two home runs, but benefited from the early cushion. The AL leader in strikeouts fanned six and yielded six hits with two walks.
That gives Houston three eight-game winners – Cole, Thursday’s starter Justin Verlander (8-2) and Tuesday’s winner Lance McCullers (8-3).
”Some undesirable results a couple times,” Cole said. ”Fastball command wasn’t poor but it wasn’t as sharp.”
The defending World Series champs moved a season-high 19 games over .500. This is Houston’s longest winning streak since taking seven in a row from Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2017.
Oakland outfielder Jake Smolinski became the first A’s position player to pitch in a game since utility player Tyler Ladendorf on June 3, 2016. Smolinski allowed a leadoff double to Max Stassi and a two-run home run to Marisnick in the ninth, then retired the next three batters.
”The one thing you really want is don’t get hurt and throw the ball over the middle of the plate, and he did exactly that,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”He was up for it. He’s up for just about anything.”
Khris Davis homered twice for Oakland, his 18th and 19th of the season. Stephen Piscotty also went deep.
The Astros flexed their defensive muscle in the eighth after Matt Olson reached on an error. Marisnick made a leaping catch in center to rob Matt Chapman of a home run, then threw to second baseman Tony Kemp, who relayed to first to double up Olson.
Blackburn retired only four batters and allowed eight runs before departing in the second.
Athletics: Chapman made another handful of stellar defensive plays at third base, one night after getting hit in the left hand by a 92.3 mph fastball from Astros reliever Collin McHugh.
Verlander (8-2, 2.58 ERA) makes his 15th start in the series finale for Houston on Thursday. Among qualifying pitchers, Verlander leads the majors in ERA and is second in innings pitched (93 1/3) and third in strikeouts (113). Right-hander Frankie Montas (3-0, 1.25) goes for Oakland.
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Source: Fox Sports