Astros' Bregman looks for more progress against Rangers

Astros' Bregman looks for more progress against Rangers

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman generated a promising amount of momentum prior to being lost briefly to a hamstring injury. He hoped to reclaim that quickly upon his return.

But it was slow to come. Before slugging his third home run of the season on the first pitch of his first at-bat Friday in the Astros' 7-2 series-opening win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Bregman had compiled a .133/.235/.333 slash line over the four games since his return to the lineup.

Prior to being sidelined, Bregman had amassed an eight-game hitting streak that featured a robust .500/.600/.615 slash line and three doubles.

What resonated with Bregman was the fact that his home run came off a Drew Smyly fastball. Opposing pitchers have attacked Bregman with the fastball this season. For Bregman, his flash of power against Smyly represented progress.

"I wanted to drive a fastball because, honestly, all my damage has come off off-speed all year," Bregman said. "But my last at-bat, I got abused inside so I've still got a lot of work to do off the fastball."

Right-hander Gerrit Cole (1-2, 3.24 ERA) will get the start on Saturday for the Astros. Cole produced his best start of the season on April 14 against the Seattle Mariners, allowing two runs on four hits with 11 strikeouts over six innings in a 3-2 victory. He is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA over six career starts against the Rangers, suffering his first loss against Texas on April 3, when he surrendered three runs on four hits and three walks with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 4-0 defeat. Cole was 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA over four starts against the Rangers last season.

Texas will counter with right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-1, 5.93 ERA) in the middle game of this three-game set. Sampson has made three appearances for Texas this season, including one start. He did not factor in the decision in an 8-7 win over the Oakland Athletics after allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts over four innings on April 14.

He worked six innings of relief against the Astros on April 1, limiting Houston to one run on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. That marked his first career appearance against the Astros.

With Texas in search of quality pitching, from its rotation and bullpen, left-hander Brett Martin made his big-league debut Friday, working a perfect ninth inning by recording three groundouts.

Martin executed against the heart of the Houston order, retiring Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel in succession while reaffirming his solid performances during spring training when he fanned 11 over nine innings and seven appearances without allowing an earned run.

"Getting him out there, you could see he looked the same as he looked all spring training: calm, collected, throwing strikes, attacking the zone, getting some weak ground balls," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Those were some pretty good hitters he went right after and good results. It was awesome. I'm sure it was a thrill for him getting out there and getting it under his belt."

--Field Level Media
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