HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros hoped their return to Minute Maid park would provide a boost for a city devastated by flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
George Springer made sure that the fans got a good show in the Astros’ first game since the storm ravaged the area, hitting his career-best 30th homer to lead Houston over the New York Mets and Matt Harvey 12-8 on Saturday.
“The fact that they came out today to support us, it’s crazy,” Springer said. “There’s thousands of people that don’t have homes, they don’t have belongings and they’re rallying around us. It’s our job as the sports team here to do anything we can. The goal is to provide anybody with some sense of relief.”
A crowd of 30,319 attended the doubleheader opener. The Astros moved a home series earlier this week against rival Texas to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The AL West leaders, who lost two of three to the Rangers, then postponed Friday’s game by a day, allowing players time to work in the community.
The Astros wore patches on the upper left side of their jerseys with the team logo and the word “STRONG” in block letters as a tribute to those affected by the storm. As Springer approached home plate after hitting a two-run homer in the second inning, he pounded the patch three times with his right fist and pointed to the fans.
“They wanted to put a patch on for the rest of the year,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “The guys were excited. We were happy. It just represents the city of Houston and the surrounding areas and what we need to do as a community to stay strong and stay together and start the rebuilding process in a lot of areas in our community.”
Mets manager Terry Collins was glad to be able to help the city take a break from all the problems that have come with the storm.
“If we can bring a distraction to what the town’s going through, certainly we’re up for it. We’ve been through it before obviously in our city,” Collins said, referring to Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “We know what the feeling is like. Tough atmosphere to play in when you’re a visitor.”
Harvey (4-4) was pounded for seven runs and eight hits in a career-low two innings as Houston romped to a 7-0 lead. Harvey had not pitched for the Mets since June 14 because of a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder.
“I thought his delivery was good,” Collins said. “Have to get his command down. Step one, it’s just nice to see him back out there.”
Jose Altuve had an RBI single and Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run single, then scored on Cameron Maybin’s single as Houston built a four-run lead in the 37-pitch first inning. Maybin was claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
Springer hit a two-run homer in the second, when Harvey threw a run-scoring wild pitch. J.D. Davis added a homer to start the fifth.
Charlie Morton (11-6) struck out nine in five innings, giving up two runs and six hits.
Dominic Smith hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Wilmer Flores hit his fourth career grand slam, a drive off Will Harris.
Brad Peacock (10-2) was to start the night game for Houston against the Mets’ Seth Lugo (5-3).
New York recalled Jacob Rhame from Las Vegas on Friday and selected the contract of RHP Jamie Callahan from the Triple-A club, and both made big league debuts. Rhame allowed two hits in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Callahan followed, giving up two runs — one earned — and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Houston recalled LHP Reymin Guduan, INF Tony Kemp and INF Tyler White from Triple-A Fresno, and the Astros placed RHP Brady Rodgers on the 60-day DL. Kemp started in left field and went 2 for 5 with an RBI. White entered in the seventh at first base and reached on an error in the bottom half.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard, who has not pitched for the Mets since April 30 because of a torn lat muscle, allowed a pair of unearned runs and two hits in an inning for the rookie level Gulf Coast Mets. He threw 13 of 18 pitches for strikes, and he struck out two.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa is expected to be activated from the DL on Sunday. Correa has been out since July 18 after surgery on his left thumb. … 3B Colin Moran, recovering from facial fractures sustained when he fouled a ball off his face on July 22, is to start a rehab assignment at Class A Quad City soon.
AOKI JOINS METS
Outfielder Nori Aoki agreed to a contract with the Mets on Saturday. Aoki had a $5.5 million, one-year contract and was released Tuesday by Toronto. The Mets pay just a prorated share of the $535,000 major league minimum, which comes to $87,705. Aoki hit .274 with 13 doubles, two triples, five homers and 27 RBIs in 83 games for Houston and Toronto, which acquired the 35-year-old in July as part of the trade sending pitcher Francisco Liriano to the Astros.
RHP Mike Fiers (8-9) is to start Sunday’s series finale for Houston and RHP Chris Flexen (3-3) for the Mets.
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