After slow start, Gattis displaying his power

Slugger rips two HRs, including game-winner, in Astros' 10th straight victory

After slow start, Gattis displaying his power

HOUSTON -- Fans in the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park might want to start wearing protective armor when Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis is at the plate.

Gattis rocketed a pair of home runs into the left-field seats, including a line-drive shot in the eighth inning to snap a tie, and drove in four Sunday to lead the Astros to their 10th consecutive win, 7-6, in a four-game sweep of the Mariners.

"It's been the most fun personally I've ever had on a team, and I think we might have something special," Gattis said.

Both of Gattis' homers were lasers, and Statcast has the data to prove it. The first had an exit velocity of 109 mph and a launch angle 18 degrees, while the second blast came in at 108 mph and 15 degrees, respectively. For comparison, Chris Carter's 420-foot, two-run moonshot in the third inning had a launch angle of 28 degrees and an exit velocity of 102 mph.

In his past nine games, Gattis is hitting .355 (11-for-31) with five homers and 16 RBIs, including four home runs in his past three games. He was hitting .109 (6-for-55) with one homer and one RBI in his first 14 games.

"I've been the one guy that's sort of stayed even on him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's in the top percentage of guys who hit the ball as hard as anybody in the game. He has been doing that even though he wasn't getting hits. I get the numbers are going to be screwy a little bit for the time being until he builds back up, but the presence he brings, even in his downtime, matters in our clubhouse, matters in our dugout.

"In the lineup, I always felt like he was going to be a key guy at the right time. He's come up with some big hits in the last stretch. He hits the ball hard, and when he hits the ball hard, good things happen."

Gattis, batting fourth, jumped on the first pitch he saw from Mariners starter J.A. Happ in the first inning and sent it 348 feet down the left-field line for a three-run homer. After the Astros relinquished a 6-1 lead, Gattis rescued them by hitting a line drive into the first row of the Crawford Boxes in the eighth to put them ahead, 7-6.

"It's awesome, it's the best," Gattis said. "I don't know what to say. There's nothing like it."

Gattis described the dugout as a "party" after he broke the tie.

"There was some screaming happening in there," teammate George Springer said. "That's how we play the game. That's fun."

The power surge is sweet redemption for Gattis, who began the year 0-for-23, including a stretch where he struck out in eight consecutive at-bats. Fans were clamoring for him to be benched, but he's winning them over now.

"It's a relief, you know?" he said. "At some point you go, 'Am I still good?' Striking out eight times in a row is tough, and it's kind of an eye-opener. I think it's been good to stick with the approach and not trying to do too much. Less is more sometimes."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.