ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Alex Bregman faces ample challenges heading into this season with the Houston Astros. Along with every player’s short spring preparations, he also has to get used to playing alongside rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña after five remarkable years next to veteran Carlos Correa.
The Astros star third baseman still started out superbly in the season-opening series for the defending AL champions.
Bregman put the Astros ahead with a two-run single in the fifth, and José Urquidy yielded four hits over five innings in Houston’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Bregman began life after Correa by going 6 for 14 with two homers and driving in six runs in Houston’s first four games. His two-out, two-RBI single off reliever Austin Warren in the finale ended up being the decisive hit as Houston took three of four from its AL West rivals.
“I feel pretty good,” Bregman said. “Just getting the timing squared away. Haven’t got that many at-bats yet, but doing all right. I was just able to put some good swings on it.”
Chas McCormick had a late RBI single, and Peña delivered three hits while the Astros dominated at Angel Stadium yet again.
“You’re starting to get a little worried there,” manager Dusty Baker said of the Astros’ 13 consecutive scoreless innings before their fifth-inning breakout Sunday. “Our pitching held us until our offense could do something, and today most of our offense was Breggy.”
Jack Mayfield homered against his former team for the Angels, but they scored more than two runs just once in the four-game series — and that was late in a blowout loss Friday.
“We have to be more offensive consistently against the entire division, not just Houston,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said. “But by no means am I discouraged. … Don’t be deceived: We’re very close to Houston. I like the way we played a lot. I like our energy a lot. There’s certain things we’ve got to get better at, but we’re very close to beating that team.”
Urquidy (1-0) built on his solid 2021 with five resourceful innings, walking one and striking out two. Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his second save.
José Suarez (0-1) pitched two-hit ball into the fifth inning for Los Angeles, but yielded four walks and two runs before the Halos’ bullpen had another inconsistent afternoon.
Mayfield homered leading off the second inning for Los Angeles while filling in for resting Anthony Rendon at third base and in the cleanup spot.
But the Astros chased Suarez with back-to-back walks in the fifth, and the runners advanced on Warren’s wild pitch before Bregman drove them both home.
After Bregman scored from third when McCormick beat out a two-out grounder in the eighth, Los Angeles’ Jo Adell ended the inning by robbing Niko Goodrum of a probable three-run homer with a difficult catch above the left field fence.