Bregman gets back to hitting basics ahead of two-homer game

Astros third baseman logs three hits, four RBIs, helps Arrighetti earn first MLB win

May 14th, 2024

HOUSTON -- Desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s why Astros third baseman , after arriving home late Sunday from a weeklong road trip, was back in the batting cage on Monday morning trying to find a solution to his early-season woes.

Bregman’s morning work admittedly didn’t leave him feeling too comfortable, so he decided to go back to the basics. He remembered a hitting cue he’s known all his life, one that he had abandoned and pulled out of his memory bank. Sometimes baseball can be so simple.

“This morning, I didn’t feel so good and worked through a lot of things, and different cues and thoughts, and ended up going back to old faithful -- just ‘knob past the ball,’” he said. “It kind of clicked and it felt good in BP today, and hopefully, [I will] continue it until tomorrow.”

Bregman broke out of his slump by going 3-for-3 with two homers and four RBIs to lead the surging Astros to a 9-2 win over the A’s on Monday night in the opener of a 10-game homestand at Minute Maid Park. It was his first multihomer game since Aug. 18, 2022.

“It feels good just to see him have some success,” manager Joe Espada said. “He’s been hitting the ball hard and just to get some big hits … is huge. I’m really happy for him. He’s worked really hard. Well, he never stops working.”

Astros rookie starter Spencer Arrighetti picked up his first Major League win by holding the A’s to two runs on five hits and two walks to go with five strikeouts in five innings as Houston improved to 9-6 in his last 15 games.

“Relief,” Arrighetti said. “That’s really what it feels like right now. I feel I’ve been chasing it since I got here and obviously the goal every time out is give these guys a chance to win because I know we have one of the best clubs in baseball. My only job is to keep giving us a chance, so I’m glad I was able to.”

Bregman hit a solo homer in the fourth inning off Ross Stripling -- his second of the season and first since April 30 -- and he took reliever Mitch Spence deep in the seventh to put the Astros ahead, 4-2. Bregman came up with the bases loaded in the eighth against Easton Lucas and hit a two-run double to right that went over the head of right fielder Lawrence Butler, who seemed to lose track of the ball.

“We kind of maybe poked the bear in Bregman a little bit,” Stripling said. “Hopefully, we didn’t get him going too much today.”

The homers were nice, but Bregman said his second-inning four-pitch walk set up the rest of his night.

“The four takes were perfect, how I wanted them to be,” he said. “I didn't even swing. The four [pitches], how the load looked and everything like that. I was encouraged by it.”

With the Astros leading, 2-1, in the fourth, Bregman hit a slider from Stripling that traveled a Statcast-projected 380 feet over the left-field wall. He led off the seventh with a rocket to left field that was 104.4 mph off the bat and went 385 feet for his second homer to make it 4-2.

“Knob past the ball.”

“I’ve thought that my whole life,” he said. “I was doing it differently than I really wanted to do it. I was kind of taking everything forward instead of just the knob.”

Bregman was slotted sixth in the batting order for the fourth time in the past six games. He began the season in the middle of the lineup, either second, third or fourth, before Espada decided to move him down on Wednesday in New York.

“He’s not going to stay down there very long once we start seeing the Bregman we all know,” Espada said.

Espada said it’s been hard to read Bregman’s frustration level, but there was no doubt in his mind he was going to hit.

“It’s just a matter of him staying within himself, controlling the strike zone, but frustration? Not really,” the skipper said. “I’m just happy he got some knocks there. Big homers.”

The next challenge for Bregman is to build on his big night and get his mechanics into repeat mode. It’s as easy as “knob past the ball.”

“Sometimes it’s something basic and simple that helps you click, and hopefully something like that, you’re able to repeat and take with you,” he said.