WASHINGTON (AP) — By the time Alex Bregman took nearly 30 seconds to circle the bases, then engaged in a series of animated high-fives, pats, hugs and personalized handshakes between the plate and the dugout, it was pretty clear.
See ya, slump.
Bregman broke loose in a huge way Saturday night, putting the Houston Astros ahead with an RBI single in the first inning before launching a grand slam in the seventh that highlighted an 8-1 romp over Washington in Game 4 of the World Series.
Holding his bat high, Bregman took a half-dozen steps or more down the first base line, watching his game-breaking slam sail. He added a late single for good measure as the Astros pulled even.
A day earlier, the regular season MVP candidate was hitless in five-bats, stranding six runners and plunging him to 1 for 13 in the Series. Bregman wasn’t daunted — that’s not his personality, he’s definitely among the most self-assured players in baseball.
Bregman said he felt good swings coming. Asked about his teammate, Michael Brantley echoed that.
“I’m not worried about Alex,” Brantley said after a 4-1 win Friday night.
“He’ll find his breaks. I can’t wait to see him come out tomorrow, I’m ready,” he said, adding for all to hear, “You be ready, too.”
It didn’t take long — Bregman pounced on the first pitch he saw, and the Astros led the rest of the way.
Bregman delivered in a ballpark where he’s had success, and in a city where his family has a legacy.
Last year, Bregman’s leadoff home run in the 10th inning at Nationals Park sent the American League to an 8-6 win and earned him the All-Star Game MVP award.
A half-century ago, his grandfather was general counsel for the Washington Senators, the team that moved to become the Texas Rangers for the 1971 season, leaving the nation’s capital without the national pastime until the Montreal Expos came in 2005.
The 25-year-old third baseman hit 41 homers with 112 RBIs this season. But with the Astros aiming to add to the championship they won in 2017, he’d been stuck in neutral this week, aside from a home run in a 12-3 loss in Game 2. Even his usually sure-handed defense at third base had been subpar.
Bregman quickly got in gear.
After José Altuve and Brantley singled with one out in the first off Patrick Corbin, Bregman lined a single to left-center for a 1-0 lead.
Yuli Gurriel followed with an RBI single, and a pocket of orange-wearing Houston fans in the third deck past the right field foul pole began their chant of “Let’s go, Astros!”
Bregman ended any doubt about Houston winning with his slam, a deep drive off Fernando Rodney that easily cleared the left field wall.
Bregman enjoyed the trip around the bases, and Astros teammates spilled from the dugout to greet him. Back on the bench, he held up four fingers.
At that point, many Nationals fans already were filing toward the exits. And way up above the right field foul pole, the cheer got louder and louder.