ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Altuve scored in each of the first three innings Tuesday night, leading the Houston Astros’ explosive start to their rivalry matchup with the Texas Rangers.
The barrage gave Altuve home runs in four straight plate appearances dating back to Monday’s game and five home runs in six plate appearances — the most in two games in Astros history and tied for the most games in MLB history. He is the first player since at least 1961 (Expansion era) to homer in four straight innings, and the fourth to homer five times in six plate appearances, joining Manny Ramirez (1998), Shawn Green (2002) and Josh. Hamilton (2012).
Aided 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 win.
“It was just one of those days where you feel really good,” Altuve said. “I was just trying to get my shot, get a good swing and it happened.”
Altuve started the game with a bang to drop Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi, who was making his first appearance since July 18 with a strained forearm.
Altuve’s second homer was also against Eovaldi and ended the right-hander’s night after 1⅓ innings and four runs allowed. Altuve’s third outburst was against reliever Dane Dunning.
He didn’t come to the plate in the top of the fourth and failed in the fifth, then struck out in the seventh before being called out of the game.
“It’s obviously a good thing to do,” Altuve said of his big night. “Especially in the situation we’re in right now, trying to win the division. So that’s good.”
Just over a week after completing the cycle, Altuve became the first player in Astros history with a cycle and a 3-hour game in the same season. He is only the second player in MLB history to accomplish both feats within 10 days of each other, following Joe DiMaggio in 1948.
Altuve has been met with a chorus of boos throughout the series with Rangers, but the derision doesn’t seem to have bothered him. After his third homer on Tuesday, he was 7-for-9 through the first 12 innings of the game with 5 home runs, 5 RBIs and 6 runs scored.
“It was just amazing,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, he was in on it.”
According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Altuve became only 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 Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the only player this season to record consecutive multihomer games.
Altuve’s four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances tied the major league record. This searing tear couldn’t have been more timely: With their win on Tuesday and the Mariners’ loss in Cincinnati, the Astros took sole possession of the top spot in the AL West for the first time this season.
“Obviously that doesn’t happen very often,” Altuve said. “Last month of the season where we’re trying to get top spot, stay there, so it’s good timing.”