Springer's slump-busting night a bright spot

Springer's slump-busting night a bright spot

HOUSTON -- George Springer launched a line drive down the third-base line and watched it carom off the foul pole for a two-run homer in the first inning on Saturday, and the Astros were in business. He singled in his next two at-bats for his first three-hit game of the season, but the offense soon dried up.

The Astros managed only two hits after Springer's single in the fifth inning and blew their early three-run lead, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Tigers at Minute Maid Park.

Springer's three-hit effort, which broke him out of a 1-for-11 slump, was the bright spot for Houston's offense.

"It's obviously good to open up with the lead, but it's not how you start," Springer said. "We understand we've got to keep scoring some runs, but [Tigers starter Justin Verlander] did a good job of slowing us down, and sometimes you've just got to tip your hat."

Springer, who's hitting .383 in 13 career games against Detroit, wasn't in much of a mood to focus on individual accomplishments, not when his team had fallen to a disappointing 4-8 to start the season.

"I'd much rather win," he said. "This is a team game, so it's great to get hits, but I'd much rather win."

Still, a productive Springer in the No. 2 hole between leadoff man Jose Altuve and No. 3 hitter Carlos Correa is vital to the Astros' success. With Saturday's performance, Springer raised his batting average 45 points, to .250, after entering the game hitting .205.

"We've got good players. ... I don't have any doubt when the dust settles and things get a little bit warmer and the summer gets going, these guys are going to get their career norms or be better," manager A.J. Hinch said.

"George had a great night swinging the bat and didn't try to do too much. He barreled up a couple of balls, keeping the ball fair for the homer. Even more important, as he got greedy toward the end of the game, he kept his swing under control a lot better tonight."

When Springer is swinging the bat well, he talks about "slowing the game down," and Saturday was no exception. The challenge now is to maintain that approach.

"We're only 12 games into the year and this is an offense that can do anything it wants at any given time," Hinch said. "Once we get everybody going, it will be a fun ride."

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.