HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros entered Saturday hoping to provide some cheer to a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in their first games at home since the storm.
They left the ballpark feeling encouraged after sweeping a day-night doubleheader over the New York Mets in front of a combined crowd of more than 60,000 fans in the first professional sporting event in the city since the storm.
”It was a long day but a productive day for us,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”We played pretty well with high energy and a lot of emotion … couldn’t have really scripted a better day.”
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The Astros won the first game 12-8 behind George Springer’s career-high 30th home run. Springer had three hits and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez added RBI singles in a four-run sixth inning as Houston got a 4-1 win in the second game.
”The fact that they came out today to support us, it’s crazy,” Springer said. ”There’s thousands of people that don’t have homes, they don’t have belongings and they’re rallying around us. It’s our job as the sports team here to do anything we can. The goal is to provide anybody with some sense of relief.”
In the nightcap, Reddick tied it at 1 with an RBI single off Seth Lugo (5-4) with no outs in the sixth before Jose Altuve avoided Kevin Plawecki’s tag at home to score on a single by Gonzalez.
The Astros extended the lead to 3-1 when Reddick scored on a groundout by Brian McCann, and Houston added another run on a sacrifice fly by J.D. Davis.
Joe Musgrove (7-8) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win, and Ken Giles pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save.
Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his face in the fourth inning and manager Terry Collins said preliminary reports are that he has a broken nose, but that they would know more on Sunday.
A crowd of 30,319 attended the doubleheader opener, and 34,904 came out for the second game. The Astros moved a home series earlier this week against rival Texas to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The AL West leaders, who lost two of three to the Rangers, then postponed Friday’s game by a day, allowing players time to work in the community.
It was the first doubleheader in Minute Maid Park history and the first in Houston since the Astros won both games against the Marlins on Aug. 27, 1999, at the Astrodome.
The Mets took the lead in the sixth when Juan Lagares tripled to start the inning and Asdrubal Cabrera walked before starter Brad Peacock was replaced by Francisco Liriano with one out. He was greeted with a double by Dominic Smith that scored Lagares.
Gonzalez made a dazzling defensive play in the eighth when he dived to snag a grounder by Brandon Nimmo and tossed it to first for the third out while sitting on the grass.
The Astros wore patches on the upper left side of their jerseys with the team logo and the word ”STRONG” in block letters as a tribute to those affected by the storm. As Springer approached home plate after hitting a two-run homer in the second inning, he pounded the patch three times with his right fist and pointed to the fans.
Collins was glad to be able to help the city take a break from all the problems that have come with the storm.
”If we can bring a distraction to what the town’s going through, certainly we’re up for it. We’ve been through it before obviously in our city,” Collins said, referring to Superstorm Sandy in 2012. ”We know what the feeling is like. Tough atmosphere to play in when you’re a visitor.”
In the first game, Matt Harvey (4-4) was pounded for seven runs and eight hits in a career-low two innings as Houston romped to a 7-0 lead. Harvey had not pitched for the Mets since June 14 because of a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder.
Altuve had an RBI single and Gonzalez hit a two-run single, then scored on Cameron Maybin’s single as Houston built a four-run lead in the 37-pitch first inning. Maybin was claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
Springer hit a two-run homer in the second, when Harvey threw a run-scoring wild pitch. Davis added a homer to start the fifth.
Smith hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Flores hit his fourth career grand slam, a drive off Will Harris.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard, who has not pitched for the Mets since April 30 because of a torn lat muscle, allowed two unearned runs and two hits in an inning for the rookie level Gulf Coast Mets. He threw 13 of 18 pitches for strikes, and struck out two.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa is expected to be activated from the DL on Sunday. Correa has been out since July 18 after surgery on his left thumb. … 3B Colin Moran, recovering from facial fractures sustained when he fouled a ball off his face on July 22, is to start a rehab assignment at Class-A Quad City soon.
Justin Verlander arrived in Houston on Saturday and threw a bullpen session between the games. The right-hander, who was acquired in a trade with the Tigers on Thursday night, received a standing ovation when he was introduced and shown on the big screen in the middle of the fourth inning.
AOKI JOINS METS
OF Nori Aoki agreed to a contract with the Mets on Saturday and made his debut with the team in the second game when he played right field and hit leadoff. Aoki had a $5.5 million, one-year contract and was released Tuesday by Toronto. The Mets pay just a prorated share of the $535,000 major league minimum, which comes to $87,705. Aoki hit .274 with 13 doubles, two triples, five homers and 27 RBIs in 83 games for Houston and Toronto, which acquired the 35-year-old in July as part of the trade sending pitcher Francisco Liriano to the Astros.
RHP Mike Fiers (8-9) is to start Sunday’s series finale for Houston against Mets RHP Chris Flexen (3-3).
AP freelancer Joshua Koch contributed to this report.
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