Altuve sparks Astros with rare opposite-field HR

Second baseman's leadoff blast is first he's hit to straightaway right field

Altuve sparks Astros with rare opposite-field HR

HOUSTON -- We've seen Astros second baseman Jose Altuve connect for some long home runs this year -- he hit a home run that landed a projected 419 feet away from home plate on the train tracks in left field against the Royals last week, according to Statcast™ -- and now he's showing off his opposite-field power.

The three-time All-Star second baseman went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Tigers at Minute Maid Park, including a leadoff home run in the first inning that marked the first of his career to straightaway right field. The homer, off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, went 351 feet.

"It's about alignment with him," manager A.J. Hinch said. "His bat-to-ball skills are elite. That's not news. But his alignment, when he keeps his body in order and doesn't dive and can hit to all fields -- now I think he's learning as he's getting older and stronger and more mature, he can juice the ball everywhere.

Altuve's two-run single

"The feedback's going to be good for him, because he can keep his alignment and he can keep his posture and he can be dangerous in a lot of areas. He doesn't try to generate. He tries to generate, he gets in trouble. Pretty impressive, though."

So where is he getting the opposite-field power?

"I don't know," Altuve said. "They keep asking me that, but I don't know. Carlos [Correa] asked me, too, 'What are you doing?' Everybody asks me, 'What are you doing?' I feel like I'm not doing anything different. I feel like last year I had a good year and I'm not trying to change my swing. I'm trying to swing at good pitches."

Altuve already has four home runs in 13 games, which is the quickest any second baseman in club history has reached that total. He hit .407 (11-for-27) with three homers and seven RBIs during the homestand with an OPS of 1.336.

"There are some guys who are just born to hit, and he's definitely one of them," teammate George Springer said. "There isn't a time when I don't think anyone expects him to not get a hit. He can do some stuff up there that I don't think I've seen in a long time. It's impressive.

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.