Alex Bregman hitting stride and more reinforcements coming for Astros

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we’ll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.

Remember when Houston Astros rookie Alex Bregman started his season 1-for-32?

Good. Now forget about it. Because Bregman sure has.

In 16 games since, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft is hitting .333. That includes his 3-for-6 outing in Saturday’s 12-2 win against Baltimore. Bregman connected for his third home run and drove in three to lead Houston’s red-hot offense.

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Needless to say, he’s hitting his stride. In fact, it appears he’s still developing right before our very eyes as his power game has really arrived during the 2016 campaign. Keep in mind, Bregman hit only 21 total home runs in three season at LSU. He hit eight during his abbreviated time in the minors last season, but already has 21 between Double-A, Triple-A and MLB this season. Tonight’s homer was his third with Houston.

Alex Bregman follows through on a two-run home run against the Orioles on Saturday night. (AP)

If that trend continues, the Astros will be overjoyed.

Make no mistake though, they won’t be short-handed.

The Astros depth is quite impressive, and that was proven again late Saturday when they called up recent international signing Yulieski Gurriel from Triple A. Houston inked the 32-year-old infielder to a five-year, $47.5MM contract just last month, and figure there’s no reason to continue holding him back. The only question will be where he fits defensively with Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve all locked in, but those are the types of problems managers dream about.

Gurriel hit .250 in the minors with two homers and 14 RBI in 56 at-bats, but that’s not a great barometer of his talent. Last season in Cuba, he hit 15 homers in 225 plate appearances, so he clearly has some pop. We’ll see how that translates now, but chances are the Astros have added yet another dynamic bat to an offense that’s beginning to sizzle.

TOP PERFORMERS

Yoenis Cespedes: The quad felt good on Saturday. Cespedes had a monster game in the Mets 9-5 win against the Giants, smoking a pair of home runs and a double. Cespedes started with a run-scoring double against San Francisco starter Matt Moore in the first inning. Two innings later, he smacked a solo home run. Then in the seventh, he launched a solo shot against Jake Peavy. New York also got a three-run homer from Alejandro De Aza as they aided Bartolo Colon to his 229th career win.

Chris Sale: The White Sox ace tossed eight scoreless innings in their 6-2 win against the A’s. After allowing two hits in the first inning, Sale really settled in, allowing just three hits total and three walks while striking out eight. Sale finished the game especially strong, retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. That included striking out the side in his final frame.

Brandon Finnegan: All the focus on Saturday was on the Dodgers pitching staff with Clayton Kershaw throwing his anticipated bullpen session and Brett Anderson making his second start of the season. Brandon Finnegan put an end to that quickly. The Cincinnati Reds hurler carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and settled for seven one-hit innings in their 11-1 win against Los Angeles. If not for a rain delay, he may have gone the distance.

Robbie Ray: Like Finnegan, Ray is not yet an established name, but he’s capable. He showed that in Arizona’s 2-1 win against San Diego, limiting the Padres to one run on one hit over seven innings. Perhaps most impressively, he struck out 13.

MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT

That was a historic home run for David Ortiz and pretty significant one for the Red Sox.

On a personal level, Ortiz’s two-run shot against Daniel Norris tied the MLB record for most homers hit in a season by a player after turning 40, joining Ted Williams and Raul Ibanez. The home run also gave him exactly 1,500 RBIs for his career in Boston. He joined Carl Yastrzemski (1,844) and Williams (1,839) as the only players to reach that number in a Red Sox uniform. Also, the run scored was the 1,400th of Ortiz’s overall career.

As for the Red Sox, it led them to an important 3-2 win over the Tigers. That moves them to one-half game behind Toronto in the division race, and two games up for the No. 1 wild-card spot.

REST OF SCOREBOARD

Rays 8, Rangers 2: Tampa Bay got a solid start from Jake Odorizzi, who allowed one run over six innings. Evan Longoria also contributed his 28th homer.

Marlins 3, Pirates 1: With a fourth-inning double, Ichiro moved into 28th place on the all-time MLB list with No. 3,008. He passed Al Kaline.

Phillies 4, Cardinals 2: Another solid outing for Jeremy Hellickson as he limited St. Louis to two runs over seven innings to earn his 10th win.

Blue Jays 6, Indians 5: A little less drama than Friday, but still a fun game. Toronto actually blew a five-run lead, but won on Edwin Encarnacion’s solo homer in the fifth.

Nationals 11, Braves 9: Washington scored eight runs on nine hits in the fourth inning. The inning included two hits from Daniel Murphy, one being a home run, and a three-run blast from rookie Trea Turner.

Royal 10, Twins 0: Alex Gordon homered twice and doubled to lead Kansas City’s offense. On the pitching side, Ian Kennedy tossed eight scoreless.

Cubs 9, Rockies 2: Chicago jumped all over the debuting Jeff Hoffman for seven runs in four-plus innings. Kris Bryant homered and drove in four.

Mariners 8, Brewers 2: Seattle got eight strong innings from Felix Hernandez. The King allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out seven.

Yankees 5, Angels 1: Rookie catcher Gary Sanchez hit his sixth home run in 10 days. Needless to say, he’s fitting in quite well.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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