Alex Bregman
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Alex Bregman’s historic night paves the way for Astros’ 8-1 win in World Series Game 4

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The Astros completed their comeback on Saturday night, defeating the Nationals 8-1 in Game 4 to tie the World Series, 2-2. It was a strong performance on all fronts: rookie pitcher José Urquidy delivered five scoreless innings of two-hit, four-strikeout ball, while Alex Bregman snapped out of a postseason slump after going 3-for-5 with an RBI single and a grand slam.

From the get-go, the Astros had control of the game. In the first inning, José Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel collected four consecutive singles and two runs off of Nationals’ starter Patrick Corbin. Corbin recovered for a scoreless second and third, but was foiled again by Robinson Chirinos in the fourth, who belted a two-run homer — his second in two straight games — to score Carlos Correa and give the Astros a comfortable four-run lead.

Urquidy, meanwhile, stymied the Nationals at every turn. He allowed a two-out single to Anthony Rendon in the first inning, then quickly retired Juan Soto with a first-pitch line out to end the inning. When Yan Gomes returned in the third with a leadoff double, he put a stop to that, too, erasing the Nationals’ lone RISP with three outs from Corbin, Trea Turner, and Adam Eaton.

Things went a little haywire for the Astros in the sixth, however. With Urquidy formally relieved of his duties, Josh James tried to keep the lid on the Nationals’ offense — and instead issued two walks and a strikeout to put runners on first and second. He was replaced by Will Harris, who promptly gave up back-to-back hits to Rendon and Soto, allowing the Nationals to get on the board with their first and only run of the game.

Any concern for Houston’s lead was short-lived. In the seventh, with Tanner Rainey in for Corbin, the Astros loaded the bases with Kyle Tucker, George Springer, and Michael Brantley. Fernando Rodney subbed in for Rainey, Bregman stepped up to the plate, and two pitches later, hit a grand slam to give the Astros a cushy 8-1 advantage:

Not only was the grand slam the first by a third baseman in 55 years, but Bregman’s five RBI were the most by an American League player in the World Series since Hideki Matsui in 2009.

Following Bregman’s slam, neither the Astros nor the Nationals improved their side of the scoreboard. The Nationals got a pair of runners on first and second in both the seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t find a way to score in either situation — which then triggered this unsightly stat:

With the Astros’ victory, the teams will enter Sunday’s contest tied at two wins apiece. Game 5 will feature a match-up of their respective aces, as the Astros’ Gerrit Cole and Nationals’ Max Scherzer are scheduled to face off for the second time this series. Their last meeting ended unfavorably for the Astros, who saw Cole pitch to the worst results of his postseason career with five runs, a walk, and six strikeouts scattered over seven innings.

Game 5 is set for 8:07 PM EDT.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.