On Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros‘ Chris Carter hit a line-drive homerun that bounced back onto the field. No one seemed to even notice it went out until the umpires conferred and signaled for Carter to tour the bases. A stadium has never been so quiet.
It is this sort of raw power and ability that can just come out of nowhere, without warning, but make a substantial difference. Carter has 18 homeruns this season, tied for 12th in the American League above Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, just to name a few. He has attracted attention from some contenders around the league for the mere fact that although he sometimes carries a demeanor of someone who doesn’t really care about the outcome of his at-bats, he is a powerful, talented guy.
The real batting story emerging lately in the Astros dugout is the resurgence of Brett Wallace. The stout first baseman came to the Astros by way of St. Louis. Against them, he demonstrated what they were now missing out on. The Cardinals knew he had the capacity for exceptional play, but it never blossomed. The Astros were happy to give him a chance last year, and after an explosive start his presence dwindled and Houston was forced to send him down to the minors.
Wallace is no spring chicken, and in reality this was probably his last chance to re-invent himself. He dropped 30 pounds, started tearing up the minors and was eventually called back up to the Big Show, maybe his last chance. And how he has taken advantage. On Tuesday night against his former club he recorded three hits. The very next night he went 4-5, the first four-hit game of his major career. Wallace is a formidable powerhouse at the plate, a fine left-handed complement to Jason Castro.
He can put the ball to any side of the field and has the raw strength to send the ball sailing into the upper decks. Houston is hoping he can keep it going. On Wednesday, he was proud to get his batting average over .200, which to some might be dismal but to Wallace, who just couldn’t hit early in the season and came back up with a sub-.100 average, it was a milestone.
Houston left far too many runners on base against the Cardinals, even out-hitting them in the final loss of the series. The hard work and grinding play has to last for nine innings, however, and until they can perfect that precious plan, they’ll remain at the base of the AL West totem pole.