Gomez more than makes up for lost time

Gomez more than makes up for lost time

HOUSTON -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez returned to the lineup on Tuesday night after missing three games, and he also returned to being Carlos Gomez.

Gomez, who had been out since injuring his rib cage diving for a ball on Friday in Oakland, doubled in his first two at-bats and finished 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Astros' 6-4 win over the Twins at Minute Maid Park. He also got credit for an outfield assist when Miguel Sano popped off the base trying to stretch a single to a double in the sixth inning and was tagged out.

"Gomez coming off the injury played excellent, controlled baseball," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's going to hate that I called it a controlled pace, but the swings were fluid. They were well connected with his timing. Whatever percentage he swung at today produced two balls off the wall, and that's something we see when he's good, and tonight he was a nice spark."

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Gomez has yet to live up to the potential that he carried from Milwaukee, where he was a beloved star before being traded last July. He was injured toward the end of last season, and a terrible April at the plate and on the bases didn't endear him to frustrated Astros fans.

Still, his performance on Tuesday is an example of what he's capable of doing.

"It's not about me, you know?" Gomez said. "[April] has always been tough in my career, so I'm hesitating. I know when I start, I'm going to start to get really hot. What's important today is we came out and did the little things. I hit two doubles, but it doesn't make anything in the game different. Then I throw a guy out at second. That, I think, is more important than the two doubles for me."

The Astros have tried since the start of spring to get Gomez to cut down on his swing, as his mighty cuts have brought him to one knee or caused his helmet to fly off. He certainly looked like he was under more control on Tuesday, perhaps because, as he said before the game, he wasn't quite 100 percent healthy.

Regardless, he has two hits in each of his last two games and is hitting .300 in his last eight games. He's raised his batting average 30 points in that span.

"I think Gomez had one of the best nights out of anybody, really working counts into his favor and not overswinging and getting good pitches to hit," Hinch said. "We have that capability in our offense, and when we get going like this, when they give us an extra base hit via the walk or the error, we can change the scoreboard."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.