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Correa's dribbler sends Astros over Yankees

@brianmctaggart
April 8, 2019

HOUSTON -- Sorry, not sorry. Carlos Correa gave a smile and then a shrug after crossing first base and beating out a critical infield hit -- on a ball that traveled only 22 feet -- to score Alex Bregman from third base with what would the winning run in the

HOUSTON -- Sorry, not sorry.

Carlos Correa gave a smile and then a shrug after crossing first base and beating out a critical infield hit -- on a ball that traveled only 22 feet -- to score Alex Bregman from third base with what would the winning run in the eighth inning of the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Yankees on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

Correa, who has registered seven balls this season with exit velocities of at least 100 mph, fought off an Adam Ottavino fastball that broke his bat. The ball dribbled up the first-base line and was fielded by first baseman Greg Bird, who didn’t have a play.

The exit velocity? 28.9 mph.

“Walking to the plate, that was the approach all the way around -- look for a sinker inside on the hand and try to hit a soft ground ball to first base and it worked out, according to the plan,” Correa said with a straight face before bursting out in laughter.

“First of all, I didn’t know where the ball was, [but] everybody moved that way, so I figured the ball was in play,” he said. “I was not looking for that pitch at all. I was looking for the pitch he dominates with in that situation [slider]. He went ahead with the fastball. I’m trying to put it in play, and [Bregman] was able to score.”

Bird said the ball was in “no-man’s land.”

“There’s nothing much you can do with it,” Bird said. “Thought, 'Go home. Can’t go home.' Thought, 'Tag him. Can’t tag him.' Thought, 'Flip it. Can’t flip it.' That’s about it. I told him, he couldn’t bunt it better than that.”

Ottavino, who hadn’t allowed a run in his first five appearances in pinstripes, replayed the hit in his head over and over shortly after the game ended and still couldn’t come up with a solution to the well-placed dribbler.

“Maybe gone and fielded it myself, see if I could tag the runner?” Ottavino said. “Not going to get anybody at home.”

Monday's rally was the Astros' second in as many days against elite relievers. With Houston trailing, 3-1, in the seventh, Robinson Chirinos drilled a two-run double to right-center off Zack Britton before the winning rally in the eighth against Ottavino. On Sunday the Astros scored late against another premier reliever -- Oakland’s Blake Treinen -- to score a 9-8 walk-off win.

“You can’t say enough positive things about our at-bats and putting ourselves in that position,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Obviously, contact’s your friend there. It’s a tough, tough matchup, right-on-right. Ottavino is one of the nastier guys in the league. [Correa] is just trying to do anything he can to put the ball in play.”

It was all part of the plan, right, Carlos?

“You got to take them,” Correa said. “This is a tough game. Sometimes you hit the ball hard right at people. Sometimes are pitchers are lucky and you’re hitting the ball right at somebody. Sometimes that happens. That’s why we love this game so much. We never know what to expect.”

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