Astros lose in extra innings

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-3 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a special win the night before on Apollo 11 night to start the three-game set, Houston could lock up the series with a victory on Tuesday night. Here is how the middle game wound up:

Final Score (11 innings): A's 4, Astros 3.

Record: 65-38, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (3-2, 2.59 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Collin McHugh (3-5, 5.12 ERA).

1) Gurriel just can't stop driving in runs

Houston gave former-teammate Mike Fiers the most trouble in the second inning. Michael Brantley started the inning off with a single, which gave Yuli Gurriel a chance for another RBI when he came to the plate with one out.

What should have been no surprise with how he has performed of late, Gurriel came through with a ball to center field which got by Ramon Laureano and went all the way to the wall. Gurriel kicked himself into gear, getting around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

2) Miley nearly throws a complete game shutout

Wade Miley, who usually moves fast on the mound, was even more efficient and quick than usual on Tuesday night. He took complete control of the game with each Oakland batter, retiring the first sixteen he faced in order. He allowed his first baserunner and hit with one out in the sixth.

He worked around that hit, getting the next two batters out to finish off the inning. He would allow two more hits in the seventh but stranded both of them as well to keep his shutout going to the eighth. He recorded yet another 1-2-3 inning in the eighth and did so on eleven pitches to earn a chance to finish the game in the ninth.

In the ninth, Miley had his chance to complete the game, but after a leadoff walk and a single had his excellent night drawn to a close. It was his longest start of the season, beating the seven innings he pitched back on May 29th.

The closer Roberto Osuna came in to erase the runners and notch a save, but instead allowed a go-ahead three-run home run, with two of the those charged to Miley. Miley's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR.

Osuna would retire the next three batters in order, giving the Astros the bottom of the ninth to tie or walk it off.

3) Astros send it to extras but lose in the eleventh

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got on base with a one-out single, then was pinch-run for by Myles Straw. Straw moved to third on a single by Josh Reddick, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz. Houston would be unable to walk it off, sending things to extra innings.

Will Harris was next out of Houston's bullpen to pitch the top of the tenth and worked around a two-out single to send the game to Houston's half of the inning. In the bottom of the tenth, George Springer led the inning off by reaching base on an error, but he would be erased on a double play as Houston came up empty to extend the game another inning.

Collin McHugh was the next reliever on the mound, and he would struggle in the top of the eleventh. He allowed a one-out single, then a walk, setting up a go-ahead double to put Oakland in front 4-3. He would get one more out before Chris Devenski came in to get the third out.

Houston would not be able to come through in the bottom of the eleventh, losing the middle game of the series and setting up Wednesday as the deciding matchup.

Up Next: Houston and Oakland will wrap up this series tomorrow afternoon with a day game at 1:10 PM. The Astros will have Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.99 ERA) on the mound to try and win the series, going against Chris Bassitt (7-4, 3.96 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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