CHICAGO — The way Alex Bregman has swung the bat over the past month has reignited thoughts of the 2019 season, when Bregman led one of the best offenses in major league history and by winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award flirted.
Injuries to his hamstring in 2020 and quad and wrist in 21 created bad habits in his mechanics that Bregman has worked tirelessly to correct. He’s still not where he wants to be, but a healthy Bregman continued his ascent in the second half, going 4th with four runs scored, two doubles, two homers and a career-high six RBIs in the Astros’ 21-5 -vs-6 went beating the White Sox Thursday in Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I know everyone always says 2018 or 2019, but I think every year is different and I’m definitely trying to go back to the mechanics I had in those two years,” he said. “On the previous two, mechanically, I wasn’t the same anymore. My front hip was wide open causing me to spin and cut the baseball instead of holding out and being able to drive it. We have worked hard this year and many people have helped me with the work in the cage. It’s been good to be more consistent over the past few months.”
Bregman and outfielder Chas McCormick (3-for-6, five RBIs) drove in 11 carries together as the Astros set a club record with 25 hits. The 21 runs are the second-most in the club’s history, behind the 23 they scored against the Orioles on August 10, 2019. This was also the only time the Astros had scored 25 hits in a game before.
“You have to search, and I didn’t do that,” said White Sox starter Lucas Giolito. “A lot of fastballs trying to get in and missing the middle, stuff like that – and they didn’t miss. I’ve given up a lot of runs.”
Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker and catcher Christian Vázquez both went 4-for-6, joining Bregman in the four-hit club.
“We have made a statement. We made a damn statement,” McCormick said. “We have a good offensive. You are a good team. We were a little upset that they hit us the first two times. We got a good win [Wednesday], and when we came in today, we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the series. We did a good job and it showed what our offensive is like today.”
This is how hot Bregman has been lately:
Since July 21 (27 games): .343/.404/.667, seven homers, 26 RBIs, 11 walks, 11 strikeouts
Since August 2nd (16 games): .397/.471/.776, five homers, 17 RBIs, nine walks, five strikeouts
Since Aug 9 (10 games): .432/.512/1,000, five homers, 16 RBIs, six walks, two strikeouts
Last year, Bregman wasn’t himself at the plate. He missed 58 games with a quad injury and posted a .777 OPS with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 91 games. He underwent off-season surgery on his right wrist, which also affected him.
“In the last couple of years I haven’t been where I wanted to be mechanically,” he said. “Today was better. Today was a really good day for running mechanics and our team did a really good job putting together good bats.”
After Bregman hit on a 3-2 pitch that was below the hitting zone in the first inning – which resulted in the ejection of hitting coach Alex Cintrón – Bregman followed up with a two-run double in the third, a two-run homer in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth. He added a double in the ninth off from White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison, who shot the final frame.
“I won’t say anything because I don’t want to be fined,” Bregman said of the call. “I definitely take a lot of pride in swinging shots and taking balls. I thought I did well today.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker said: “I can’t tell you what I said. My mother wouldn’t like it. We all thought it was low.”
Bregman came in with a .242 batter in August, but he’s now hitting .264 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and an .839 OPS in 115 games. The 2019 Bregman seems to be back.
“If Bregman goes, oh man, he’s been hot for a while,” McCormick said. “I’m happy for him. He does a great job and is locked up every day. He is healthy and plays every day. We need him out there every night because he’s quite an influential player.”