The Houston Astros have slugged their way to the best record in the AL.
Looking to continue their recent home run surge, the sizzling Astros can complete a four-game sweep of the visiting Seattle Mariners by winning 10 straight for the first time in 11 seasons Sunday.
One night after three homers produced all its runs in a 4-3 victory, Houston (17-7) went deep five times during Saturday’s 11-4 rout of the Mariners. Evan Gattis homered for the second time in as many days and Jose Altuve delivered a three-run shot to help the Astros win for the 13th time in 14 games.
"I’d take us any day. Like right now we’re just rolling," said Gattis, who has hit three of his four homers and recorded eight of his 13 RBIs in the last five games.
After finishing fourth in the majors with 163 home runs while losing 92 games in 2014, the Astros’ 37 are again among the most in baseball. They’ve hit at least three in four of the last six contests.
That’s helped put them in a position to set a club mark for the best record through 25 games by winning 10 in a row for the first time since a 12-game run Aug. 27-Sept. 8, 2004.
"Everything is clicking on all cylinders for them," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon, whose team opened a 10-game trip by taking all three from Texas before arriving in Houston, told MLB’s official website.
"You run into hot teams, that’s just the way it goes."
Houston looks to keep rolling against ex-Astro J.A. Happ (2-1, 2.30 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts versus Houston since the team traded him to Toronto in 2012. Happ earned his third victory in four career starts against the Astros on April 22, allowing a solo homer to Chris Carter and one other run over 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win.
”Just being aggressive and trying to get ahead of guys is big for me,” he said. ”That’s the way I’m successful.”
The left-hander was able to do that Tuesday when he gave up a run and struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory at Texas.
”Confidence is a huge thing, and just being aggressive with whatever pitch you’re going to throw," Happ added.
Altuve is 1 for 7 versus Happ, but is batting .451 with two home runs and 15 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. His franchise-record-tying run of recording at least two hits in nine consecutive contests ended Saturday.
Happ will again oppose Roberto Hernandez (1-2, 3.80), who has allowed three runs in each of his last three starts. He lasted seven innings but took the loss against Happ on April 22.
The right-hander went six innings Tuesday to come out ahead in a 14-3 rout of San Diego.
Nelson Cruz is 2 for his last 11 with a home run versus Hernandez, but he went deep twice Saturday to increase his major league-leading total to 13. Cruz, who also homered Friday, is batting .438 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 13 games at Minute Maid Park.
The Mariners (10-14) are 1-5 against the Astros in 2015, and the only other time they’ve been swept at Houston was in June 2007.
"I like my team. In fact, I love my team," McClendon said. "I think we’ll come out of it and be fine."