From George Springer's perspective, he practically had a moral obligation to hit a home run in the first inning on Saturday night.
"You know, there was a man out there on third with two outs," he said. "I bat fourth -- it's my job to get that run in however I can."
The home run he hit in the fourth inning? Well, that was just a bonus.
The Astros' No. 3 prospect recorded his first two-homer game at Triple-A and drove in three runs to help Oklahoma City edge New Orleans, 6-5, at Zephyr Field.
It was the fourth time this season Springer has gone deep twice in a game, counting the Texas League All-Star Game on June 25 that served as his Double-A swan song. And he said a home run early in a game makes him a more dangerous hitter in his following at-bats.
"You get your confidence up a little bit and you start looking for something to drive early in the count," he said. "It's easier to stick to the approach that's working for you."
With fellow Astros prospect Jonathan Villar standing 90 feet away from home plate in the opening inning Saturday, Springer's approach was flexible.
"I was just looking for something to hit hard somewhere," he said. "I wasn't really looking for any particular pitch or location, just something I could handle, and I just wanted to make sure I put a good swing on it."
Springer got a first-pitch fastball from New Orleans starter Rett Varner and knocked it over the left-field fence.
"It feels good" to begin a game like that, the University of Connecticut product said. "It was good to help us get off to a good start."
Three innings later, Springer took Varner deep again to lift the RedHawks into a 3-3 tie.
"It was leading off the inning," he said. "I was just being patient and trying to get something I could handle and then hit it up the middle somewhere."
The 23-year-old outfielder worked a 3-1 count and again sent the ball over the fence in left. He grounded out in the sixth and struck out in the eighth, leaving him with a .378 average, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored and four stolen bases in 11 games with Oklahoma City.
After Houston selected him 11th overall in the 2011 Draft, Springer hit .302 with 55 extra-base hits and 32 stolen bases between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi in his first full season last year. He returned to the Texas League this season and batted .297 with 19 homers, 20 doubles, 55 RBIs and 23 steals in 73 games.
"It's one of those things where I've gotten to play in a lot of unfamiliar territory, but you play the game the same way everywhere you go," Springer said.
New Orleans is among those places. And, not surprisingly, he's enjoying the four-game series against the Zephyrs.
"I've never been here before. It's always cool to spend the Fourth of July in a place you've never been, especially when it's New Orleans," he said. "It was awesome."
The RedHawks have taken two of the first three games in the series, but Springer has no intention of letting up. And he has a singular focus for the rest of the year.
"Keep going," he said. "It's a long season. You've got to keep grinding it out and compete from the game's first pitch every day."
Villar had an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored, while Astros No. 20 prospect Carlos Perez hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth for Oklahoma City. Robbie Grossman, Houston's 18th-ranked prospect, reached three times, stole a base and scored a run.
Jarred Cosart, the Astros' top pitching prospect, surrendered five runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and still ranks fourth in the PCl with a 3.29 ERA.