Steve Gardner, USA TODAY
Published 10:00 p.m. ET Sept. 9, 2019 | Updated 10:59 p.m. ET Sept. 9, 2019CLOSE
What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale tells us what he’s hearing regarding which MLB players will take home some hardware at the end of the season.
USA TODAYThe Houston Astros have figured out a creative way to compete with the NFL for fans’ attention: try and outscore ’em.Fresh off a 21-1 rout of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, the Astros were at it again on Monday night (as the NFL’s Houston Texans were playing their season opener). Facing Oakland A’s pitcher Mike Fiers — who was working on a streak of 20 consecutive starts without suffering a loss — it didn’t take long for the Astros’ bats to heat back up.Home runs by Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Robinson Chirinos staked Houston to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. Then homers by Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Alvarez again helped push the margin to 11-0 after the second inning. The second home run by rookie sensation Alvarez was a fitting metaphor for the Astros’ recent run of pulverizing opposing pitchers.According to Statcast, Alvarez’s 24th home run of the season left the bat at 113 mph and at a launch angle of 36 degrees — resulting in a 415-foot blast. In five years of Statcast tracking, MLB.com’s Andrew Simon reports only two other players have hit home runs with that combination of velocity and height: Giancarlo Stanton in 2015 and Joey Gallo in 2017.From the video, it was a little hard to tell where the ball landed. Thankfully, Astros historian Mike Acosta was able to provide some reference.Yordan Alvarez just became the second player and the first Astro to hit a homer into the right field upper deck at 416 ft. Jeromy Burnitz was the first player to do so back on 9/29/00 (424 ft.) pic.twitter.com/q6t0GlWNWo— Mike Acosta (@AstrosTalk) September 10, 2019The Astros ended up hitting seven home runs in a 15-0 win over the A’s.Just like a good NFL team needs a good defense to back up a potent offense, Houston’s pitching hasn’t been too shabby either. In Sunday’s win, starter Gerrit Cole gave up only one hit in eight innings. As a result, Houston became the first team in MLB history to score 36 or more runs and allow one or fewer in a two-game spanUnbelievably, the 21 runs the Astros scored Sunday wasn’t their season-high. They had a 23-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on August 10.Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Steve Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide
Steve Gardner, USA TODAY