Spin­ning an­other vic­tory

Breg­man blasts sec­ond home run of se­ries; de­fend­ing champs on verge of sweep

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - ALDS GAME 2 - By David Bar­ron david.bar­ron@chron.com twit­ter.com/df­bar­ron

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.”

Karen War­ren / Staff pho­tog­ra­pher

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.

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