Springer's clutch hit among biggest of career year

Outfielder delivers go-ahead double in Astros' 6-run 6th

Springer's clutch hit among biggest of career year

HOUSTON -- Any time the hits come in bunches -- and when George Springer gets hot, they certainly can come in bunches -- he talks about slowing the game down and trying to get on base at the top of the batting order for the guys hitting behind him.

Springer has been on fire lately and getting on base, but in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 8-4 win over the Mariners at Minute Maid Park, he delivered some clutch RBIs that have been missing from his game recently.

Springer connected for a two-run, ground-rule double with the bases loaded in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a two-run single to put the Astros ahead, 8-4, and cap a six-run outburst off Felix Hernandez.

"Obviously, we go as well as the length of our order can go and then the more guys you have swinging the bats well, the more difficult it is when the lineup rolls around," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When you get guys on base at the bottom like Jake [Marisnick], like [Alex] Bregman got on, it makes for a difficult matchup for him."

Astros plate six in the 6th

The win moved the Astros to within 2 1/2 games of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot with four games remaining after Baltimore lost to Toronto. The Mariners remain two games back of Baltimore with five left, while Detroit moved a game up on Seattle by beating Cleveland.

Springer is hitting .472 (17-for-36) with no homers and four RBIs in his last eight games, raising his average 12 points to .262. He's set career highs this year in hits (165), runs (115), homers (28) and RBIs (81). But no RBIs this year were bigger than his clutch hit in the sixth.

The Astros had runners at first and second with one out when Yulieski Gurriel beat out a possible inning-ending double play. A throwing error on the play allowed a run to score, getting the Astros to within a run at 4-3. After Tony Kemp walked, Bregman came off the bench for a game-tying single, and a diving Marisnick narrowly beat a play at first on a ball bobbled by Adam Lind to load the bases.

Marisnick safe on an error

That set the stage for Springer, who looped a ball into the right-field corner and watched it bounce over the fence to put the Astros ahead.

"Obviously, that's a big spot for us," he said. "You've got to give Jake all the credit in the world for getting to first and Kemp for his at-bat and Gurriel for getting it down the line. I was just trying to help the team and pass on the baton to the next guy."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.