Tuesday night, the Houston Astros obliterated the Texas Rangers right from the jump. The final score was 14-1, but it was 9-0 through three innings and the rest of the game was a mere formality. The star of the game was Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Following a game in which he homered twice to help the Astros top the Rangers, 13-6, Altuve homered in each of his first three plate appearances. In fact, he homered in the first, second, and third innings, respectively.
Here's the third homer:
I just love Astros manager Dusty Baker's little head shake there. It was kind of one of those, "I can't believe it, but I can" looks.
Dating back to Monday's game, Altuve had homered in four consecutive at-bats.
This was the first career regular-season game for Altuve with three home runs. He also hit three homers in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS. Also, looping back to Monday's game, Altuve homered in five out of six plate appearances and four straight. He became the first Astros player ever to hit five home runs in a two-game span (via Astros.com).
Given the score, it won't be surprising to hear that Altuve was far from alone in having a big offensive game. Usually light-hitting catcher Martín Maldonado homered twice. Yordan Alvarez homered. Jeremy Peña collected three hits. Let's not overlook the excellent work on the mound from Framber Valdez, as he allowed only one run in seven innings.
The Astros seem to be back on track. They had won five in a row but then were swept at home over the weekend by the last-place Yankees. They've now won two straight, which means they've won seven of 10 overall.
On the other side of the spectrum, here would be the Rangers. They opened August with an eight-game winning streak and were 12-2 on the month through Aug. 15. They were 24 games over .500 and sitting with a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL West at that time. They've gone 4-14 since. They are now in third place, two games out of first and are in danger of missing the playoffs after it seemed like a near-certainty just a few weeks ago. The Blue Jays entered play Tuesday just a half-game behind the Rangers for the third AL Wild Card.
Speaking of playoff position, the Mariners blew a late lead in Cincinnati and lost in walk-off fashion, 7-6, to the Reds. By virtue of that result and what happened in Texas, the Astros are now in first place alone for the first time all season. They've won the AL West every full season since 2016.