Gattis getting acclimated behind the plate

Catcher hits two-run homer in win over D-backs

Gattis getting acclimated behind the plate

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis was in the starting lineup on Wednesday night at catcher for the second straight game, and for the third time in four games for the streaking Astros.

And Gattis played a large part in a 5-4, 11-inning win over the D-backs at Minute Maid Park. Gattis hit a tiebreaking two-run home run in the fifth and threw out two baserunners as the Astros won their fifth straight game and their eighth of the last nine to conclude the one-third mark of their season at 25-29.

"We win when he catches, I like that part," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "And he's hit the ball very well when he catches as well."

The Astros are 4-1 in games Gattis has started. In that period, Gattis is 7-for-22 with three home runs, two doubles and six RBIs. Two of his first four starts behind the plate were starts made by Collin McHugh. Houston's Wednesday starter was Mike Fiers.

"I'm just glad it's gone good," Gattis said. "I still want to get better. It's only my fifth game in [at catcher], so I should definitely get better, especially handling guys. I don't know everyone that well yet at all, and a lot of stuff going on between the mound and the plate is knowing your guy and him knowing you."

Hinch, who caught in the Major Leagues, said that this is not a platoon system and that Jason Castro is also going to spend a good deal of time behind the plate. Castro is battling the flu and Gattis could start at catcher again on Thursday against the D-backs.

On Wednesday, Gattis threw out two potential basestealers, including Yasmany Tomas on the back end of a double play to end the Arizona fifth. In the first inning, Gattis threw out Jean Segura, who led off with a walk, attempting to steal second base. In his last three starts Gattis has thrown out four of five runners attempting to steal.

"Progress is always good," Gattis said. "Play every day and you come to the park to win the game, but … I don't even know our record, but we still have high expectations, but keeping it rolling is going to be key."

Gattis, who did not catch in his first year with the Astros in 2015, but caught with the Braves, is getting more comfortable at the position. In Tuesday's 8-5 win at Arizona, the right-handed hitting Gattis' batterymate was Lance McCullers, who is not easy to catch with his high number of breaking balls.

"We're running into some left-handed pitching, which is to his advantage when I want to load the lineup with righties," Hinch said. "He's worked with our pitching staff very well."

Prior to this season, Gattis' last start at catcher was Sept. 28, 2014, at Philadelphia when he was with Atlanta. Gattis was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi on May 6 to get acclimated to the catcher position.

"Ten days in a row was important for him in Double-A," Hinch said. "That shook off some of the anxiety that comes with the position."

In the 14 games since being recalled from Double-A, Gattis has five home runs and nine RBIs.

Richard Dean is a contributor to based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.