The Houston Astros’ dismal team batting average is offset by prodigious power and an offense that is very adept at coming from behind.
Whatever the recipe, it has them atop the American League.
Houston looks to ride the red-hot bat of Evan Gattis to another win over the struggling Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
Houston (33-20) hasn’t had this many wins after 53 games since owning the same record in 1998, and a victory in this one would set a franchise record for the most after 54.
The Astros’ rise has come despite hitting .239. However, their 71 homers are the most in the league and Gattis’ 12 tie him with Luis Valbuena for the team lead.
Gattis hit a three-run shot and Valbuena followed with a solo blast in a five-run third inning en route to a 6-4 victory over Baltimore on Tuesday.
It was Houston’s major league-leading 17th comeback win and improved it to 20-0 in multi-homer games.
"There have been good comebacks, (we’ve) come back from a lot. I’m just glad we could get (starter Collin McHugh) some runs and we’ve got a potent offense," said Gattis, who has a team-high 36 RBIs.
Gattis is batting .444 during a nine-game hitting streak with four homers, four doubles, one triple and 11 RBIs. He’s 8 for 21 with two home runs and seven RBIs in five meetings with Baltimore (23-28) during that stretch.
Valbuena, meanwhile, has homered on two of his three hits in five at-bats during this series, adding four runs.
Lance McCullers (1-0, 2.40 ERA) is getting another chance to prove he’s worthy of a regular spot in the rotation with Scott Feldman (knee) and Brad Peacock (lat) out.
The 21-year-old has struck out at least five batters in each of his first three starts to become the first Astros rookie to do so since J.R. Richard in 1971.
McCullers had the shortest of his three outings Friday, allowing two runs and five hits over 4 1-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Despite McCullers’ solid start to his career, the Astros are evaluating the possibility of adding depth to the rotation behind McHugh and emerging ace Dallas Keuchel.
"We’re going to look at it," general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB’s official website. "We’re going to look at all available options, but McCullers has been pitching well."
He’ll face an Orioles team that has scored 11 runs and batted .208 during a four-game slide, one shy of their season high from April 20-24.
"Nothing really seems to go our way right now, but you look at the division and we’re still three, four games back, so it’s not time to hit the panic button yet," Steve Pearce told MLB’s official website. "We haven’t gotten hot yet as a team, and it’s still early."
Adam Jones has been one of the main culprits, going 7 for 48 (.146) with one RBI in his last 12 games. He’s 5 for 36 (.139) in nine career games at Houston.
Baltimore tries to avoid another loss behind Miguel Gonzalez (5-3, 3.48), who was brilliant in his last outing. He limited Tampa Bay to a solo homer and two other hits over eight innings Friday before leaving without a decision in a 2-1 victory.
The right-hander, though, has been roughed up for 10 runs and 15 hits over eight innings in losing his past two road starts.
Gonzalez is 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA in two career starts in Houston, but Jason Castro is 4 for 10 with a homer and three doubles in their matchups.