Spinning another victory
Bregman blasts second home run of series; defending champs on verge of sweep
In Saturday’s episode of “Spin City,” the Kid got the last laugh once more.
Alex Bregman’s seventh-inning home run not only gave the Astros an insurance run en route to winning Game 2 of the Division Series against Cleveland, it came off Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, with whom he had a Twitter kerfuffle during spring training.
Bregman’s 396-foot blast to left center off Bauer, extending the Astros’ 2-1 lead, was great theater for the capacity crowd at Minute Maid Park. At least for public consumption, however, Bregman treated it as less comeuppance against Bauer than an example of what the Astros must continue to do in the razor-thin margins that decide playoff games.
“Runs are huge in the postseason,” he said. “Regular season, one run feels like a good lead. In the postseason when you’re on defense, one run feels like nothing, but when you’re on offense, it feels like a ton — ‘Oh, God, we’ve got to score a run.’
“So any time you can tack on, it’s big.”
The Astros padded their 7-2 win Friday with some tack-on runs, but the first blow came from Bregman, whose two-run homer in the fourth off Corey Kluber gave Houston a lead it never relinquished.
He now has four homers in his last nine postseason games — last year’s seven-game World Series and the two Division Series games against the Indians — and six for his playoff career.
All have come off All-Stars — Bauer, Kluber, Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen — and he joins Evan Longoria as the only third baseman to have six postseason homers before turning 25.
“He’s got ice in his veins,” said outfielder George Springer, whose five-game postseason homer streak ended Saturday. “He loves the bright lights. He loves the big stage. He shows up every day waiting to play these games.”
He also has a mischievous side, coupled with the willingness to use it on social media.
Earlier this spring, Bauer took to social media himself with a series of tweets that to some appeared to indicate his belief that Astros pitchers used foreign substances to enable them to increase spin rates on breaking pitches.
Pitcher Lance McCullers in response tweeted, “Jealousy isn’t a good look on you my man.”
Bregman, noting the Astros’ presence in the 2017 World Series after the Indians fell short during the Division Series against the Yankees, tweeted, “Relax Tyler ... those World Series balls spin a little different.”
The spat didn’t last, however. Bauer made a donation to McCullers’ charitable foundation, and McCullers replied, “Thanks Tyler.”
Not to be outdone, Bauer, during the first inning of a May 18 game at Minute Maid Park, affixed a piece of tape with the name “Tyler” above his name on the back of his jersey.
All of that was prelude to Saturday. Bauer entered in the sixth inning and got two outs to leave the bases loaded and got two outs in the seventh before Bregman unloaded on a 1-1 pitch to make it 3-1.
With the win, the Astros are within a game of closing out the Indians advancing to the American League Championship Series. Bregman said he expects the Astros, who combined for 21 hits in the two Houston games to six for the Indians, to keep pressing.
“I think it’s important that we keep our foot on the gas, show up and compete from pitch one and try to win the next pitch,” Bregman said. “You can’t look forward. You can’t try and do anything different but go up there and play baseball.
“As far as we’re all concerned, we want to win on Monday, and all that matters is the pitch one, and then after pitch one has been thrown, pitch two.”
But no episode of Bregman’s version of “Spin City” ends without a walkaway laugh line. Saturday, it came when he was asked what he was looking for from Bauer, who, the questioner said, “throws so much off-speed and so much spin.”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t know what I was looking for. Maybe that pitch.”
Alex Bregman made the most of his only hit Saturday, a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning that sealed the Astros’ victory in Game 2.