BOSTON — How do you counter an opposing pitcher recording three outs on just five pitches? Hit five homers off him the next inning.
Houston broke a franchise record and tied a Major League mark in Tuesday’s 13-4 win over Boston, tagging Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi for five homers in the second inning to give the club a hefty 9-1 lead. The Astros finished the night with 15 hits and were responsible for six of the game’s eight home runs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” said manager Dusty Baker. “I’ve had some good teams, played on some good teams. But … that was a first right there.”
The historic run started with Yordan Alvarez, who sent a 97.7 mph fastball into the seats of the Green Monster to briefly tie the Yankees’ Aaron Judge for the MLB home run lead (12). The next long ball came courtesy of Kyle Tucker, who made right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. scale the wall as the ball sailed over the Astros’ bullpen for a two-run homer. In his Fenway Park debut, New England native Jeremy Peña then went back to back for his seventh Major League homer and Houston’s third of the inning.
With nobody warming in Boston’s bullpen following a flyout, single and a double, Michael Brantley stepped up and sent one into the right-field stands to drive in three more runs. And finally, the homer that set the new club mark came off the bat of Yuli Gurriel, who went deep to left-center field.
Their previous record was four home runs in an inning on Sept. 8, 2004, when Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb each went deep in the first against the Reds.
Right-hander Tyler Danish relieved Eovaldi and retired Tucker to end the inning. By the time the third out was recorded, the Astros had recorded 1,970 feet of home runs.
A team has hit five home runs in a single inning just eight times including Tuesday:
• Astros, 2nd, (May 17, 2022)
• Yankees, 4th, (Sept. 17, 2020)
• Nationals, 3rd, (July 27, 2017)
• Brewers, 4th, (April 22, 2006)
• Twins, 7th, (June 9, 1966)
• Giants, 9th, (Aug. 23, 1961)
• Phillies, 8th, (June 2, 1949)
• Giants, 4th, (June 6, 1939)
“I mean, we have a great ballclub,” said Peña, “and we know that we can do damage. And it was just one after the other, and you kind of just loose track, and you’re in the moment — you don’t really think about the records and all that stuff. We heard about the record after the game. But it was awesome to see.”
Even after the second inning ended, the hits kept coming for the Astros. Their 15 on Tuesday matched a season high — they also hit 15 vs. the Twins in the completion of a suspended game on Thursday — and their 13 runs tied another season high (last done on April 8 against the Angels in Anaheim).
With solo homers from Alvarez and Peña, two-run shots from Tucker and Gurriel and a three-run home run from Brantley, the only thing that was missing from the home run cycle was a grand slam.
Tucker took care of that two innings later, giving Houston a 13-3 lead with a grand slam to right field, his seventh homer of the season and second of the night.
A strong offensive performance is not exactly a shock for the 2022 Astros. Following Tuesday’s win, Houston is near the top in a number of offensive categories — including leading the Majors with 55 home runs, ranking third in the American League with 167 runs and ranking second in the AL with a .422 slugging percentage.
But a five-homer inning on a six-homer night falls in its own category, especially against a veteran pitcher such as Eovaldi.
“There’s no explanation,” Baker said. “I mean, sometimes, you hit the great [pitchers] good and sometimes, you know, the so-so [pitchers] you don’t hit them. There’s no explanation for everything. … It’s not that easy to hit home runs, and like I said, it was just our day.
“The guys didn’t like the taste of losing last night, and so they came out ready to play today. I mean, they come out ready every day, but they were especially ready today because they knew we had a tough guy on the mound over there.”