Houston Astros: Alex Bregman is MLB’s biggest breakout of 2018
Alex Bregman’s 100th hit of the season wasn’t a fluke, nor a dribbler. Rather, it was a milestone for the Astros third baseman.
Oakland pitcher Emilio Pagan attempted to keep Bregman off the plate. But the first-time All-Star instead bolted one straight over the left field fence.
The home runs signaled several feats for the budding star. First, it was his second of the game, thus capping his first career multi-homer game. Second, Bregman now leads the league’s best offense in homers.
More surprisingly, his 19th home runs matches his total from last year – across 155 games. He played in his 91st game of the year Tuesday.
Several players across the league are in the midst of true breakout seasons. Blake Snell perplexes hitters down in Tampa Bay, while Max Muncy and Eddie Rosario are pitchers’ nightmares in their respective ballparks.
Yet, it seems that the Houston infielder has a case for the MLB’s biggest breakout season thus far. The 24-year-old already matched his WAR from last year. He ranks ninth in the category across the entire MLB.
While Jose Altuve is still the most valuable player on the team, Bregman has proven to be the No. 2 guy – for now. Carlos Correa’s injury and George Springer’s cold stretch gave the hot corner specialist a chance to move into the spotlight.
And his numbers since June 1 are enough proof of his success. In that span, Bregman is hitting better than .300 with 14 bombs and 37 RBIs.
Those numbers pushed his OPS above .900, which is currently the best on the Astros. And his 53 walks also leads the club. There are few categories that don’t have Bregman atop the leaderboards on the offensive end.
Houston fans have witnessed the evolution of a star in just three seasons. And now the All-Star has an opportunity to take the next step by remaining consistent.
This seems like just the beginning for the Astros youngster. And Bregman chooses not to be overshadowed by his teammates, most of which are very talented.
Houston Astros send Ken Giles to minors after fiery ninth-inning exit
Following a ninth-inning meltdown in which he gave up three runs without getting an out, the Houston Astros have sent former closer Ken Giles to the minors.
While his 4.99 ERA might be reason enough for the demotion, the way he left Tuesday's game against Oakland might also have been a contributing factor.
Television replays appeared to show Giles using an expletive when manager A.J. Hinch came out to replace him in a game the Astros eventually won 6-5 in 11 innings.
In Hinch's pregame media session on Wednesday, he declined to comment on the interaction he had with Giles the night before.
"We deal with a lot of different things behind the scenes internally as a team," he told reporters. "Let's keep it to baseball."
After recording 34 saves and posting a 2.30 ERA in 2017, Giles lost his closer job during the Astros' World Series triumph and has been inconsistent this season. Although he hasn't officially blown a save in 12 chances -- he entered Tuesday's game with a four-run lead -- the Astros have also turned to Hector Rondon (7 saves), Chris Devenski (2) and Brad Peacock (2) in save situations.
"He's not right," Hinch said about Giles. "We need to get him right mentally and physically to make sure he's a good contributor to our pen."
Houston Astros get wild walk-off win against Oakland Athletics
The Houston Astros got a walk-off 6-5 win in the 11th inning over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night on as bizarre a play as any seasoned baseball fan will ever see.
Alex Bregman came to the plate with one out, and Kyle Tucker standing on second base and Tony Kemp on first after the Astros tied the score at 5-5. Bregman hit a ball that ricocheted off home plate, briefly rolled in foul territory and then rolled fair.
A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy picked up the ball, turned around and dropped the ball as he attempted to tag Bregman out. Bregman took off for first, and after fumbling with the ball for a moment Lucroy threw to first baseman Mark Canha.
The throw appeared to carom off Bregman's batting helmet and into foul territory. Tucker sprinted home with the game-winning run to complete the wild finish to the game.
The Athletics challenged the play, but the call on the field was upheld.
Bregman — who had two home runs in the game — called his 11th inning swing "the biggest circus of the whole thing," and added: "I think it was the softest ball anyone's ever hit."
Prior to that insane sequence, Josh Reddick had scored the tying run after A's shortshop Marcus Semien tried to throw Reddick out at home on a ball hit by Kemp.
This isn't the first time that Bregman has been involved in a mind-boggling walk-off play this season. On April 7, Bregman hit a shallow pop fly that San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer overran, which allowed the winning run to score.