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May 14, 2024 4:05 am

Astros’ Alex Bregman seeks repeat effort against A’s

alex bregman

Did slumping Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman finally find the key to busting out of his season-long hitting slump?

For the fourth time this season — all in the past six games — Bregman batted sixth in the batting order on Monday, a day on which he also took early batting practice.

He responded with a 3-for-3 showing with two solo home runs and four RBIs, carrying the Astros to a 9-2 victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics in the opener of a four-game series that continues Tuesday.

It marked the sixth career multi-homer game for Bregman, who entered the contest with just one home run on his ledger and an unsightly .201/.270/.264 batting line.

A two-time All-Star and American League Most Valuable Player runner-up in 2019, Bregman has never posted an OPS below .777. He carried a .534 OPS into Monday and spent the late morning putting in extra work in the batting cage. In the short term, it paid dividends.

Now he will try to extend the success against left-hander JP Sears, the Athletics’ scheduled starter on Tuesday.

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

Bregman, however, didn’t put much stock in being dropped in the order or in the one night of results. He and the Astros will need a series of similar performances before normalcy returns.

“Just try and go into (batting practice) mode mechanically and swing at good pitches to hit,” Bregman said. “I feel like over the course of 162, the cream always rises to the top.”

Right-hander Ronel Blanco (4-0, 2.23 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Astros on Tuesday. He earned a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday after allowing two runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. The Astros improved to 6-1 in games Blanco has started this season, with Blanco allowing two runs or fewer in six of those seven outings.

Blanco is set to make his first career appearance against the Athletics.

Sears (3-2, 4.20 ERA) is looking for his third win in as many outings this month. In his latest start, a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, Sears yielded four runs on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Sears had surrendered one run or none in four of his previous five starts.

“It was one of the grittier ones, one of those days you have to go in and feel OK with your body,” Sears said of the outing against Texas in the first game of a doubleheader. “You hope that those are the days that the offense played like it did today. We had a lot of good defense today and were swinging the bats really well on our side.”

Sears is 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA over four career appearances (three starts) against the Astros. He made three starts against Houston last season, going 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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