Two gnome runs? Astros' Gattis explains

Two gnome runs? Astros' Gattis explains

HOUSTON -- It was fitting that Evan Gattis made such an impact on the same day the Astros handed out 10,000 Evan Gattis gnomes to fans.

Gattis, who returned to the Astros lineup after missing one game with a left hand contusion, powered the Astros to a 7-2 win over the Angels with home runs in each of his first two at-bats. It was the Astros' 10th straigth win over the Angels.

"I got two [gnomes] for my garden," Astros starter Collin McHugh said. "If they can keep out the whiteflies then I'll be happy."

Gattis had been dealing with some bumps and bruises lately, but started at catcher in place of Jason Castro, who was scratched from the lineup after sustaining an injury similar to Gattis' to his right hand after a foul tip in the top of the ninth inning Friday.

"These are nicks and bruises that happen during the middle of the year that we don't tell you about until we have to," manager A.J. Hinch joked before Saturday's game.

The first of Gattis' dingers came in the second with two outs. With the game still scoreless and a pair of runners on the bases, Gattis drilled his first shot, which had a Statcast-projected distance of 420 feet, to the Crawford Boxes.

"[That home run] was a huge hit for us to kick-start what turned out to be a really nice offensive night," Hinch said. "I know [Gattis] takes great pride in being a complete player on both sides of the ball. That comes out every time he catches."

Gattis' three-run homer

It wouldn't take long to see Gattis' encore.

Gattis led off the bottom of the fourth with his second shot of the game, which sailed just to the right of the Crawford Boxes and put the Astros up 4-0.

"Just glad I got a good pitch to hit," Gattis said.

Gattis' long solo homer

"Today was Gatty Day," McHugh said. "No doubt. He hits two homers, catches a great game. It's his gnome day. It's Gatty Day, and I couldn't be happier for him."

Saturday was Gattis' first multi-homer game of the season, the sixth of his career and third with the Astros.

It hasn't been a great year for Gattis, who is batting a career-low .224, but, as he showed Saturday, the 29-year-old still has power that the Astros can use. Gattis has 26 extra-base hits, including 15 home runs, in 70 games this season.

Hinch said he Gattis is even more motivated when playing catcher instead of his regular spot as a designated hitter.

"It's come to be expected," Hinch said. "I'm really hard on our pitchers, because I think it's a huge competitive advantage when we're more prepared than anybody on the field."

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.