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Bregman homers on 25th birthday

First-inning blast accounts for Astros' only scoring in loss to Rays
@brianmctaggart
March 30, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The ultimate celebration would have included an Astros win, a point Alex Bregman brought up early in a postgame interview. But a birthday homer? Not a bad present after Bregman started the season hitless in his first eight at-bats. Bregman, who turned 25 on Saturday, broke out

ST. PETERSBURG -- The ultimate celebration would have included an Astros win, a point Alex Bregman brought up early in a postgame interview. But a birthday homer? Not a bad present after Bregman started the season hitless in his first eight at-bats.

Bregman, who turned 25 on Saturday, broke out in the first inning of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field with a solo homer to left field off starter Tyler Glasnow, becoming the first Astros player with a birthday homer since Preston Tucker in 2015.

“It was good,” said Bregman, who became the 12th Astros player to homer on his birthday. “I was happy with the swings today. The last two at-bats yesterday, too. But all that matters is a win, and we didn’t do that today. Bounce back tomorrow and come back and get after it.”

Bregman’s homer was the only extra-base hit for the Astros, who managed seven singles against five Rays pitchers to fall below .500 for the first time since June 20, 2016.The Astros left the bases loaded in the eighth when Josh Reddick flied out to right field.

“They did a lot more with their opportunities than we did,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We put a little bit of pressure on them at the beginning of the game and then there toward the end but couldn’t quite break through. One run on eight hits is tough to win in this ballpark, and they came up with some big hits when they needed it most.”

Bregman is off to a 1-for-12 start through three games but has hit some balls hard. He scorched a grounder in the sixth inning up the middle that went right into the Rays’ defensive shift for an out. On Friday, he lined out to center field in the eighth.

“He easily could have three or four or five hits on the season, not that big a deal,” Hinch said. “His pitch selection has been pretty good, he’s missed a couple of pitches. Get a big homer, it can spark him to have a pretty good day tomorrow.”

Bregman, an All-Star third baseman starting at shortstop Saturday with Carlos Correa missing his third consecutive game with a neck strain, lined a 2-2 fastball from Glasnow down the left field line and just over the wall. The ball, which reached only 43 feet at its apex, traveled 360 feet, according to Statcast.

“You’ve got to consistently square it up every time up at this level or else it’s tough to get hits,” Bregman said. “Just continue on what I’m working on moving forward.”

Correa will return to the lineup Sunday in his 2019 season debut, and Bregman is pumped.

“One of the best players in baseball,” he said. “We get him back tomorrow, so it’s going to be a big boost for us. Keep it rolling.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.