Carter gets first taste of cleanup spot

Carter gets first taste of cleanup spot

DETROIT -- For the first time this season, Astros slugger Chris Carter was in the cleanup spot in the batting order for Monday's opener vs. the Tigers.

Carter entered the series on somewhat of a hot streak, going 3-for-8 with a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs in the team's previous three games. Carter had been hitting primarily fifth or sixth while scuffling through the first five weeks of the season.

"He just told me it was the best decision I made all year," manager Bo Porter said jokingly. "If he's right, it's a good thing."

Carter told Porter prior to the game he checked the lineup by looking toward the bottom for his name before scrolling up with his eyes to see him listed in the No. 4 spot.

"He's really started to swing the bat well," Porter said. "He's starting to drive the ball. He was in a funk there for a while. We all know this guy probably has the most raw power on our team. If we can get him going in the middle of our lineup, it will really, really help the lineup.

"I feel like our offense is really starting to come around. Our struggles are behind us. There's a lot of deep counts, and guys are not really missing some of the pitches we were missing early in the year."

Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Marc Krauss and Jesus Guzman alternated in the No. 4 spot through the first 16 games, with Altuve getting most of the at-bats there. Rookie George Springer had started 13 consecutive games in the cleanup spot before Matt Dominguez was there for a couple of games. Springer is now batting sixth.

"I love the fact we kind of got him out of the four-hole and in a spot in the lineup that once he takes off, we're fine leaving him in the six-hole, in an RBI position," Porter said of Springer.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for 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.