ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Altuve homered in each of the first three innings Tuesday night, leading the Houston Astros’ explosive beginning in their rivalry clash with the Texas Rangers.
The barrage gave Altuve homers in four straight plate appearances going back to Monday’s game and five homers in six plate appearances — the most in a two-game span in Astros history and tied for the most over two games in MLB history. He is the first player since at least 1961 (expansion era) to hit a home run in four consecutive innings, and the fourth to hit five home runs in six plate appearances, joining Manny Ramirez (1998), Shawn Green (2002) and Josh Hamilton (2012).
Helped by Altuve’s first three-homer game in the regular season, Houston scored three runs in each of the first three innings en route to a 14-1 victory.
“It was just one of those days where you feel really good,” Altuve said. “I was just trying to get my pitch, put a good swing and it happened.”
Altuve started the game with a blast to left off Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi, who was making his first appearance since July 18 because of a forearm strain.
Altuve’s second homer was also against Eovaldi and ended the righty’s night after 1⅓ innings and four runs allowed. Altuve’s third blast was against reliever Dane Dunning.
He did not come to the plate during the top of the fourth and grounded out in the fifth, then struck out in the seventh before being pulled from the game.
“Obviously, it’s a good thing to do,” Altuve said of his big night. “Especially in the situation where we are right now, trying to win the division. So it’s good.”
Just over a week after hitting for the cycle, Altuve became the first player in Astros history with a cycle and a 3-HR game in the same season. He is only the second player in MLB history to accomplish both feats fewer than 10 days apart, after Joe DiMaggio in 1948.
Altuve has been greeted with an echoing chorus of boos all through the series with the Rangers, but the derision does not seem to have bothered him. After his third homer on Tuesday, he was 7-for-9 in the first 12 innings of the matchup with 5 homers, 5 RBIs and 6 runs scored.
“That was just unbelievable,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, he was on the ball.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Altuve became just the fourth player to homer in each of the first three innings of a game. The others were Carl Reynolds (1930), Mike Cameron (2002) and Manny Machado (2016).
He also joined the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts as the only players this season to record back-to-back multihomer games.
Altuve’s four homers in four straight plate appearances tied the major league record. The scorching tear could hardly have been more timely: With their win Tuesday and the Mariners’ loss in Cincinnati, the Astros took sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time this season.
“Obviously, this doesn’t happen very often,” Altuve said. “Last month of the season where we are trying to get to first place, stay there, so good timing.”