ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Altuve homered in each of the first three innings Tuesday night, leading the Houston Astros to an explosive start in their matchup against the Texas Rangers.
The barrage gave Altuve homers in four straight plate appearances going back to Monday’s game and five homers in six plate appearances — the most by a two-game stretch in Astros history and tied for the most in MLB history. . He is the first player since at least 1961 (expansion era) to hit a home run in four consecutive innings, and the fourth to hit five home runs in six plate appearances, along with Manny Ramirez (1998), Shawn Green (2002) and Josh Hamilton (2012).
Aided by Altuve’s first three homers of the regular season, Houston scored three runs in each of the first three innings en route to a 14-1 victory.
“It’s just one of those days where you feel good,” Altuve said. “I just tried to get my pitch, put a good swing and it happened.”
Altuve started the game with a blast to relieve Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi, who was making his first appearance since July 18 because of a forearm strain.
Altuve’s second homer was also against Eovaldi and ended the righty’s night after 1⅓ innings and four runs allowed. Altuve’s third blast was against reliever Dane Dunning.
He didn’t reach the plate during the top of the fourth and grounded out in the fifth, then scored in the seventh before being pulled from the game.
“Obviously, it’s a good thing to do,” Altuve said of his big night. “Especially in the situation we’re in right now, trying to win the division. So it’s good.”
Just over a week after hitting for the cycle, Altuve became the first player in Astros history to have a cycle and a 3-HR game in the same season. He is only the second player in MLB history to accomplish both feats less than 10 days apart, after Joe DiMaggio in 1948.
Altuve was greeted by a resounding chorus of boos throughout the series with the Rangers, but the jeers didn’t seem to bother him. After his third homer on Tuesday, he was 7-for-9 in the first 12 innings of the matchup with 5 homers, 5 RBI and 6 runs scored.
“That’s unbelievable,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, he’s on the ball.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Altuve became the fourth player to homer in each of the first three innings of a game. The others are Carl Reynolds (1930), Mike Cameron (2002) and Manny Machado (2016).
He also joined Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the only players this season to record back-to-back multihomer games.
Altuve’s four homers in four consecutive plate appearances tied the major league record. The burning tear couldn’t be more timely: With their win Tuesday and the Mariners’ loss in Cincinnati, the Astros have taken sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time this season.
“Obviously, it doesn’t happen often,” Altuve said. “Last month in the season where we were trying to get to first place, stay there, very good time.”