BOSTON – How do you counter an opposing pitcher registering three outs on only five pitches? Hit five home runs against him the next inning.
Houston broke a franchise record and tied a Major League mark in Tuesday’s 13-4 win over Boston, scoring Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi for five homers in the second inning to give the club a solid lead of 9-1. The Astros finished the night with 15 hits and were responsible for six of the game’s eight home runs.
“I don’t think I’ve seen this before,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I had good teams, I played in good teams. But… it was a first here.”
The historic run began with Yordan Alvarez sending a 97.7 mph fastball into the seats of the Green Monster to briefly tie Yankees judge Aaron for the MLB home run lead (12). The next long ball came courtesy of Kyle Tucker, who had right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. scale the wall as the ball sailed over the Astros bullpen for a two-run homer. In his Fenway Park debut, New England native Jeremy Peña then went back to back for his seventh Major League home run and Houston’s third inning.
With no one warming up in the Boston bullpen after a flyout, single and double, Michael Brantley got up and sent one into the right field stands to drive in three more runs. And finally, the homer that set the club’s new mark came off the bat of Yuli Gurriel, who went deep to left center field.
Their previous record was four homers in one inning on September 8, 2004, when Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb each dove deep in the first against the Reds.
Right-hander Tyler Danish picked up Eovaldi and pulled out Tucker to end the inning. By the time the third out was recorded, the Astros had homered 1,970 feet.
One team hit five home runs in a single inning just eight times, including Tuesday:
• Astros, 2nd, (May 17, 2022)
• Yankees, 4th, (September 17, 2020)
• Nationals, 3rd (July 27, 2017)
• Brewers, 4th, (April 22, 2006)
• Twins, 7th, (June 9, 1966)
• Giants, 9th, (August 23, 1961)
• Phillies, 8th, (June 2, 1949)
• Giants, 4th, (June 6, 1939)
“I mean, we have a great ball club,” Peña said, “and we know we can do damage. And it was just one after the other, and you just lose track, and you’re in the moment — you don’t really think about records and stuff. We heard about the record after the game. But it was great to see.
Even after the second inning ended, the hits kept coming for the Astros. Their 15 on Tuesday was a season high — they also reached 15 against the Twins at the end of a suspended game on Thursday — and their 13 points tied another season high (last achieved on April 8 against the Angels in Anaheim).
With solo homers from Alvarez and Peña, two-pointers from Tucker and Gurriel and a three-point homer from Brantley, the only thing missing from the homerun cycle was a grand slam.
Tucker took care of those two innings later, giving Houston a 13-3 lead with a grand slam to right field, his seventh homer of the season and second of the night.
A strong offensive performance isn’t exactly a shocker for the 2022 Astros. After Tuesday’s win, Houston is near the top in a number of offensive categories — including leading the Majors with 55 homers, ranking third in the League American with 167 points and second in the AL with a .422 hitting percentage.
But a five-homerun inning on a six-homerun night falls into its own category, especially against a veteran pitcher like Eovaldi.
“There is no explanation,” Baker said. “I mean sometimes you hit the big one [pitchers] good and sometimes, you know, the so-so [pitchers] you don’t hit them. There is no explanation for everything. … It’s not that easy to hit home runs, and like I said, it was just our day.
“The guys didn’t like the taste of losing last night, so they came out ready to play today. I mean, they come out ready every day, but they were especially ready today because they knew we had a badass on the mound there.”