Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch speaks during a news conference Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Houston. The Astros will face the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the baseball American League Championship Series Tuesday Oct. 16 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Bregman trolls Eovaldi, Hinch says "back it up" in ALCS

October 15, 2018 - 8:38 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are brimming with confidence, even after a Game 2 AL Championship Series defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

For proof, just see Bregman's social media feed.

Hours after Boston beat Houston 7-5 to even the best-of-seven series at a game each, Bregman shared video Monday on Instagram of the Astros hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs against Game 3 Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi from a game in June.

"Lil pregame video work," he wrote.

Eovaldi will oppose Dallas Keuchel in Houston on Tuesday after Rick Porcello was used in relief during Game 2, when the Astros took their first loss of the postseason. Eovaldi's previous start against the Astros didn't go well. The right-hander allowed seven hits and four runs in a 5-1 loss June 20 while with Tampa Bay, including a season-high four homers.

Three of those were hit in succession by George Springer, Bregman and Jose Altuve in the sixth inning.

The Astros didn't work out Monday, so the brazen 24-year-old Bregman wasn't available to reporters. Plenty of others weighed in, though, including Astros manager AJ Hinch. He had no issue with the online barb.

"Welcome to the current generation," Hinch said. "Obviously there's fun banter. ... We want guys to have their personalities, have their fun. Then go out and back it up."

Eovaldi didn't seem bothered by the video, saying he doesn't have social media but some of his teammates told him about it.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who is close with Bregman from his time as Houston's bench coach last season, brushed off the notion that Bregman's video could provide an added push for his team Tuesday.

"If you need motivation in Game 3 of the ALCS, you better check yourself," he said. "Because you win three more games, you go to the show, and that's what should motivate you. Alex has different ways of motivating himself. And whatever. I'll leave it at that."

Tuesday will be Keuchel's ninth postseason start and first since allowing four hits and two runs in five innings of Houston's 11-3 win over the Indians in Game 3 of the Division Series on Oct. 8. The 30-year-old left-hander has been overshadowed by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole this season, but Hinch raved about the adjustments he's made to continue to help the Astros.

"Dallas has had to handle success when the league has tried to adjust to him," Hinch said. "He's adjusted back, and he's gone back to his strengths in the back half of this season where his two-seam fastball, his changeup, his occasional cutter is good against anyone."

Eovaldi made his postseason debut in Game 3 of this year's ALDS against the New York Yankees, yielding five hits and one run in seven innings of the 16-1 victory. Now he'll pitch just 30 miles from his hometown of Alvin, Texas, a suburb best known as the home of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

Eovaldi has long looked up to Ryan and said "words can't really describe" what it was like when he met him while he was with the Yankees. He knows Ryan, an executive adviser to Astros owner Jim Crane, will likely be sitting behind the home plate Tuesday.

"I don't really notice people in particular in the stands," he said. "I'm so focused on the game, locking in on the catcher and things like that. And I feel that would take my attention away from everything if I'm scanning the crowds and stuff."

The Red Sox got good news Tuesday when ace Chris Sale was released from a hospital after an overnight stay because of a stomach illness. He was scheduled to join Boston in Houston on Tuesday night, and Cora said they'd decide when he'd pitch again after that.

Houston's Marwin Gonzalez was expected to play Tuesday despite dealing with chest and back soreness after crashing into the Green Monster trying to make a catch Sunday night. Hinch said last year's MVP Altuve could be Houston's designated hitter in Game 3 because he's still struggling with a knee he bruised in the ALDS.

"He's doing his best," Hinch said. "It's not comfortable for him. I know he's, what we call grinding and battling and doing everything that he can. ... He's able to be a productive player. But he's battling a little bit."

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