Bregman's baserunning flub hurts Houston in G1

Astros held to three hits in opener of high-powered ALCS

October 13th, 2019

HOUSTON -- For a team playing in the familiar surroundings of its own home ballpark, the Astros looked a little lost in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.

They had no answers for in their 7-0 loss to the Yankees and fared no better once New York's bullpen took over. Tanaka pitched six innings, threw 68 pitches and, aided by two double plays, faced the minimum of 18 batters without allowing a runner to make it as far as second base.

"I think everyone is frustrated when we don't win because we know that we're a better offense than we are [showing], but we're not going up there frustrated," said. "We're going up there trying to put together a good at-bat. We just haven't done that yet."

Now the Astros will have to regroup and try to even the series Sunday night before heading to Yankee Stadium for the middle portion of the ALCS. The Game 2 lineup may look a little different, considering Houston will be facing left-hander . Look for to possibly play left field, with defensive whiz in center to support Astros ace , a fly-ball pitcher. That would bump to right, rounding out an all right-handed-hitting outfield.

Meanwhile, the Astros have no choice but to move on from a dud of a Game 1 that presented few scoring opportunities and a couple of mishaps that squandered what little momentum they did build.

The dagger arrived in the fifth inning, after Bregman drew a leadoff walk off Tanaka. barreled up a 90 mph four-seamer that left his bat at 110 mph and looked like it was headed for the wall in right. But 6-foot-7 made a running leap and caught the ball, shocking not only a sellout Minute Maid Park crowd, but also Bregman, who was well on his way to second when he suddenly had to scamper back.

Bregman lost his footing for a split-second, which cost him. Judge threw to first baseman , who snared the ball on a hop to complete the double play.

"One-hundred percent," Bregman said, asked if he thought the ball was over Judge's head. "I should have remembered he's 6-9. He's really athletic and made a heck of a play and has a great arm, too. I thought it was over his head for sure. I was trying to go first to third, maybe first to home and set us up for a big inning. I got out there a little too far, and he got me."

Per Statcast, the play had an 85 percent catch probability for Judge, who only had to travel 31 feet to make the catch. The throw to first was clocked at 87.8 mph.

"I thought it was huge," Judge said. "[Alvarez] smoked that ball to me and I almost kind of slipped in the outfield. I caught it and right when I looked up, I saw DJ throwing his hands up. Just kind of winged it to him and he made a good play to get Bregman. Just trying to capitalize on little things."

Astros manager AJ Hinch pointed out that defensive positioning was key for the Yankees to make that play happen.

"They were in the right area at the right times, especially in the outfield," Hinch said. "I think the ball was hit so hard and Bregman was trying to get off, and if the ball gets past [Judge], he wanted to make sure that he got at least to third, if not to home."

New York winning by seven runs likely eased the sting of that rally-killing double play, especially since Houston wasn't able to build much in the remaining innings. After the game, the Astros spoke in generalities regarding their offense, realizing the ALCS is just getting started, and one game does not a series make.

"We're way better than that as an offensive team," said. "We've got to make the necessary adjustments in order for us to get on track and put a lot of runs on the board. It's a game of adjustments, and I'm pretty sure we're going to do what we need to do to adjust in order for us to score more runs."

The Astros have a little history on their side. While they're the fourth team to be shut out at home in Game 1 of the ALCS, the other three teams all came back to win the series and move on to the World Series: the 2013 Red Sox, the 2008 Rays and the 2000 Yankees.

"We've been in this situation before," said. "Tomorrow we have Justin, and we all know how confident and good we feel about him. It's just one game. It's a seven-game series. We still have a lot of baseball to play."