Carter's hot stretch burying earlier struggles

Carter's hot stretch burying earlier struggles

SEATTLE -- Through it all, Chris Carter's demeanor has never changed. Maybe that's why he's been able to persevere through a season in which everyone wanted him dumped and he wound up having his playing time slashed dramatically as he struggled to put the bat on the ball.

Carter has emerged from the ruins of a lost first five months of the season and is suddenly carrying the Astros' offense. He homered for a third consecutive game Monday night, breaking a tie with his 23rd homer of the season to lead the Astros to a 3-2 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field that put them within 1 1/2 games of Texas for the American League West lead.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," he said. "I'm getting pitches up in the zone."

Carter has homered in five consecutive starts, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat, joining Cliff Johnson (1975), Carlos Beltran (2004) and Morgan Ensberg (2006). He has nine career homers at Safeco Field -- his most in any visiting park.

What's more, Carter is hitting .364 with two doubles, six homers and 10 RBIs in 15 games since Aug. 28.

"We've seen it before out of him, and I'm happy for him, I'm happy for our team," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's been extremely clutch down the stretch here with some really big homers, against right-handed pitching especially, at the most opportune time, when we needed it. It was a big boost for us."

Carter's resurgence is reminiscent of the tear he went on last year. From July 4-Sept. 5, 2014, Carter hit .286 with 23 homers, 55 RBIs and a 1.033 OPS in a 52-game span. That accounted for more than half of the homers (37) and RBIs (88) he tallied for the whole season.

"This guy's hit 37 homers in the big leagues before," Hinch said. "He's changed a few little things with his mechanics. He's obviously seeing the ball. This has been in there the entire year. I know the [.196] average is low, but it's not low for the last month. He's getting good pitches to hit. The trajectory off the bat is very good. He's centering the ball. That kind of strength with that kind of hand-eye coordination, he can do a lot of damage."

George Springer and Evan Gattis homered in the first inning, and Carter had a strikeout and a walk under his belt before taking Danny Farquhar deep in the seventh.

"He's never gotten too down when he's struggled early," Gattis said. "He's got the same demeanor and loves hitting a ball a million miles."

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