Bregman hits 7th playoff HR -- all off All-Stars
HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman has been hearing "M-V-P" chants for the better part of the past two months, so in some ways the noise that oozed from every row and corner of Minute Maid Park for each of his at-bats during the first two games of the American League Division Series was familiar to the All-Star third baseman.
But there's something different about the sound, and the feel, of those chants this time of year. Every seat is occupied. Fans are more nervous than they are during regular-season games. The tension is palpable.
The voices, perhaps, are a little bolder.
"It's a lot louder now," Bregman said. "The environment that we've played in the last two days here is unmatched. And we love playing in front of these great fans. They know the game of baseball. They have fun. They're passionate."
That created the perfect environment for Bregman to put the Astros on the board first in their 3-1 win in ALDS Game 2 on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. In the fourth inning, with 43,378 fans yelling, in unison, "M-V-P," Bregman drove a 96 mph offering from Rays lefty Blake Snell 367 feet to left-center, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.
"I just was trying to put a good swing on a pitch," Bregman said. "Snell is tough, the reigning Cy Young. So I was just fortunate enough to get the barrel on it and get us off to a good start."
The homer was the seventh of Bregman's postseason career and his first so far this October. He was down in the count 0-2 before taking three straight balls from Snell. After fouling off a pitch, Bregman connected for the home run, Houston's second long ball of the postseason. José Altuve ended a scoreless tie in Game 1 with a two-run shot in the Astros’ 6-2 win.
"I think scoring first is huge in the postseason," Bregman said. "Altuve did a great job of getting us on the board yesterday, breaking the ice."
All of Bregman's postseason homers have come off All-Star pitchers: Chris Sale (two), Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Kenley Jansen and now Snell.
Because so many postseason games are low-scoring affairs, a solo homer that gives a team a 1-0 lead seems a little more significant than if it occurred during a mid-week game in, say, August, especially if a team has a double-digit lead in its division race.
In October, everything is magnified, runs are at a premium, and a solo homer can take on a different meaning.
To Bregman, the homer was simply a method to get the next hitter to the plate in an effort to ignite a rally.
“I think the thing with our team is during the postseason, our best games that we've played during the postseason, we strung at-bats together,” Bregman said. “It's not necessarily going up there trying to hit a home run, but it's trying to put up a good at-bat for the next guy.
“If we keep continuously putting up good at-bats, the next guy will come through. And I think when we have that mindset, we're really, really, really good offense.”