Astros' tight infield defense a boon to Harrell

Astros' tight infield defense a boon to Harrell

NEW YORK -- With sinkerballer Lucas Harrell getting the Yankees to hit the ball on the ground with regularity, inducing four double plays during Monday's 9-1 Astros win, Houston's slick infield defense had a chance to show its stuff. Third baseman Matt Dominguez, second baseman Jose Altuve and the shortstop combo of Marwin Gonzalez and Ronny Cedeno have played terrific and worked well together.

As a result, the Astros entered Tuesday leading the Major Leagues with 35 double plays and added to that total in the first inning with a 4-6-3 twin killing.

"We're all still trying to figure out where we like to play and things like that -- what balls I can get to in the hole and what balls Ronny and Marwin can get to," Dominguez said. "I think we're all just starting to kind of jell, and it may sound weird, but we're in a defensive groove right now and starting to feel more comfortable."

Porter credits the work of bench coach Eduardo Perez for positioning the infielders properly, based on the information he receives from the club's analytics department.

"I've always said this: Quality defense starts with the ball before it's pitched and being in the right position," Porter said. "We've done a great job from an organizational standpoint in providing these guys with information to position themselves properly, and they've done a great job of letting their abilities show."

Porter hopes Harrell's ability to pitch to contact and let his defense do the work will serve as a lesson to the Astros' other pitchers.

"We have a pretty good defense," Porter said. "If you make the team put the ball in play and the pace of the game is good, the plays are going to be made. We've only gotten in trouble when it's a lot of deep counts and guys are being walked, and it compiles baserunners and the pace of the game slows down. We've been extremely happy overall with the defense as a whole throughout the course of the season."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.