Astros SS snaps slump with 3-run, pinch-hit blast in 13th
By Earl Bloom
Special to MLB.com |
ANAHEIM -- Because shortstop Carlos Correa is just 21, the day off manager A.J. Hinch planned Sunday for the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year winner was more for mental purposes than physical ones.
"The best day off I ever had," Correa said, after his pinch-hit, three-run home run in the 13th inning propelled the Astros to an 8-6 victory over the Angels.
"A big home run like that could do wonders for him, down the line," Hinch said.
Hinch had said in the morning that he wanted to stay away from using Correa in the afternoon game against the Angels. Correa had been struggling, with just four hits in his past 33 at-bats, dropping his average to .241. But the situation in the 13th was just too tempting for the Astros to pass up in a game that lasted 4 hours, 57 minutes.
"I actually thought about using him for as a runner earlier in that inning, with [Luis] Valbuena and [Tyler] White the first two hitters," Hinch said. "I was going to use his legs, or his bat. I'm glad we went with the bat."
White singled off Angels reliever Mike Morin with one out, and Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single. So Correa made the first pinch-hit appearance of his career, batting for Tony Kemp.
"I was hitting in the cage in the seventh, the ninth, the 11th," Correa said. "I was getting ready to go, and I was swinging so much, I was getting tired."
He had faced Morin in the eighth inning Saturday and was retired on a grounder. But that gave him an idea of what to look for.
"It was a changeup," Correa said of the pitch that produced his eighth homer. "He threw me a few yesterday, and I was out in front. I figured he'd use the same approach."
This time, Correa launched the 2-1 pitch into the grass near the Astros' bullpen in left field, giving Houston a road-series victory as well, two games to one. It was their third series victory in the past four -- the way Hinch maintained the Astros need to get back into the race after a disappointing start.
"It means a lot," Correa said. "Our bullpen is strong, doing a great job of grinding it out."
In his short Major League career, Correa is 6-for-15 (.400) in extra innings. Against the Angels, he's hit .339 with four doubles, five home runs and 16 RBIs in 15 games over two seasons.
• It was the Astros' sixth consecutive victory in a game started by Doug Fister. The right-hander left after six innings with a 3-1 lead, but didn't get the decision.
• Kemp stole his first career base in the fifth inning, and scored the Astros' third run on the third of four hits by Jose Altuve.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Astros on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.