By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
HOUSTON — Right fielder Josh Reddick revealed on Wednesday afternoon a Houston Astros-themed championship belt that would be bestowed upon the player of the game pending a victory. The first recipient of the hardware was an easy pick.
Shortstop Carlos Correa went 4-for-5, including a solo home run that ignited an impressive power display that carried the Houston Astros to a 10-1 victory and series win over the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Charlie Morton produced his second consecutive quality start while Marwin Gonzalez continued his power surge, doubling as part of a four-run second inning and hitting a two-run homer in a four-run sixth.
Houston capitalized on some aggressive baserunning later in the frame, with Nori Aoki and George Springer scoring on close plays at the plate.
Correa was batting just .250 on the homestand and had recorded only one hit in two previous games in this series. He finished a triple shy of the cycle, adding a double and two singles to his third home run of the season.
“I’ve been making big strides lately and feeling a lot better,” Correa said, the belt draped over his left shoulder. “I’ve been more consistent with it. Today was a great day; I’ve got to go back tomorrow and do it again.”
The Astros (19-9) cranked four home runs — solo shots from Correa and Brian McCann in the second inning and two-run blasts from Gonzalez and Josh Reddick. Reddick clubbed his second home run of the season in the eighth.
Houston smacked three homers off Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez (0-1). Gonzalez went 2-for-4 and has three homers in two games against Texas (11-17).
“It was a tough night for Nick Martinez,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He just didn’t seem to be able to do what he did in his previous starts that had made him successful. Really just an inability to execute all of his pitches.”
After retiring the Astros in order in the first inning, Martinez endured a nightmarish second.
Correa opened the scoring with an opposite-field home run to right. Following Carlos Beltran’s fly out to left field, five consecutive Astros reached base, starting with McCann and his line-drive homer to right field.
Gonzalez doubled to left field and Alex Bregman followed with an RBI single that scored Gonzalez. Springer tacked on a run-scoring single one batter after Aoki walked and pushed Bregman into scoring position. In a flash, Houston led 4-0.
“I think Correa had a terrific night,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “And obviously when you can kick-start some scoring early you’ve got a chance to do some things. We had tremendous at-bats in the second inning that I think, as a whole, set the tone for a nice night. We had seven or eight excellent at-bats in a row that really made the difference in setting the tone for the night — Correa obviously being the first one.”
That cushion proved sufficient for Morton, who allowed only one baserunner his first trip through the order and didn’t surrender a hit until Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor opened the fourth inning with a double to right field.
It wasn’t until Ryan Rua laced a single to center that the Rangers broke through, with Nomar Mazara coming around to score what would be Texas’ lone tally.
Morton (3-2) labored a bit to complete his six innings, but he did so with a three-run lead. He allowed one run on five hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts.
“Guys are making good pitches on us, and we’re chasing a little bit,” Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “We’ve got to do a better job of staying within ourselves and doing a better job at the plate.”