Photo: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle
The Houston Astros are heading back to the American League Championship Series, finishing out the American League East champion Boston Red Sox on Monday. They took the series 3-1 over the Red Sox, but had to come from behind to do it. Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick provided the late-game fireworks to power the Astros into the next round.
While Reddick’s blast may have plated the winning run, Bregman’s blast was perhaps more important to Houston’s winning effort. Down 4-3 in the eighth inning, the Astros’ third baseman came to the plate mired in an 0-for-10 cold streak. Compounding his efforts to snap out of that slump was Boston’s ace and a contender for this year’s Cy Young Award, Chris Sale.
The lefty had come on in relief of Rick Porcello in the fourth inning and had pitched four scoreless innings when Bregman came to the plate.
“It’s amazing that even the best lineup, the best team, can get deflated at some point,” said Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel. “And for us to respond with the Bregman solo home run just rejuvenated us, and at that point, we knew we’re going to win.”
The home run highlighted one of Bregman’s intangibles, the ability to take the hard knocks and come back swinging.
Bregman played his collegiate baseball at LSU, where he starred for the Tigers wearing the number 30, signifying the 30 teams that had passed on drafting him out of high school. Bregman had been projected as a first-round pick, but fell precipitously after breaking a knuckle on his throwing hand during a game his senior season. Ironically enough, it was the Boston Red Sox who drafted him in 2012, but not until the 29th round, and as second baseman.
Bregman went about proving his worth in Baton Rouge, becoming the starting shortstop for the Tigers and winning the Brooks Wallace award in 2013 as the nation’s best collegiate shortstop. He continued to rack up awards and honors throughout his career at LSU, leading the Tigers to the College World Series Championship in 2015.
The Houston Astros wasted no time taking Bregman’s name off the board in the 2015 draft, picking him second overall. Their belief in him and his belief in himself has obviously already paid huge dividends for the city of Houston.