HOUSTON — Max Stassi has always been a big bat with potential. On Monday, he showcased some of his power.
The Angels’ catcher homered in the team’s 8-3 loss at Houston, and if not for an outstanding catch by center fielder Jose Siri, the former Houston catcher might have collected two extra-base hits.
“He plays well, he’s been playing well, he catches really well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “And over the last couple of years, he’s become a much better hitter with power.
“What you saw tonight, we’ve seen often — a firm, established guy behind the plate for us where the pitchers can rely on him. But that’s the typical game for Stassi you saw tonight.”
Stassi went 1-for-3 with a second-inning walk before making good contact in his next two at-bats against right-hander Luis Garcia at Minute Maid Park.
“One of them got caught and one went out,” Stassi said. “It felt good.”
Stassi’s sixth-inning home run drew the Angels to within a run at 4-3. That inning, the right-handed hitting Stassi took an offering from Garcia and re-directed the right-hander’s fastball away down the right-field line, just hitting the foul pole.
“I just went with it,” said Stassi, who batted cleanup. “Happy with the result.”
The home run ball stayed fair just long enough to become Stassi’s second home run of the season.
“I thought it had a chance,” Stassi said.
His previous at-bat in the third inning looked promising when he first laid into the ball. But it resulted in a long out to end the third inning. It had extra bases written all over it before Siri ran the ball down in left-center field, making contact with the fence just after snaring the hard-hit ball, measured at 393 feet.
“I thought I got it pretty good,” Stassi said. “I think I just hit it a little too high and it hung up there, and Siri made a good play on it. I was rounding first, and the crowd went crazy, but that was a great play.”
Siri’s catch deprived Stassi of a hit and a potential RBI that would have broken a 2-2 tie.
Last season, Stassi achieved new career highs in hits (68), home runs (13) and RBIs (35).
The Angels’ organization has noticed his upswing. In March, L.A. signed Stassi to a three-year contract extension through 2024 with a club option for 2025. The deal is worth $17.5 million. Stassi was going to be a free agent after the upcoming season.
“I wouldn’t say I’m more at ease, it’s just nice knowing I’m going to be here for three years and hopefully more,” Stassi said. “Such a great group of guys. They’ve welcomed me here since Day One, and I absolutely love playing here for this organization.”