Mandatory Credit: Photo by Maria Lysaker/UPI/Shutterstock (13463295r) Houston Astros Jeremy Pena celebrates after scoring on a base hit by Alex Bregman in the eighth inning to give the Astros a 4-2 lead over the Seattle Mariners in game two of their American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Thursday, October 13, 2022. Alds Astros Mariners, Houston, Texas, United States – 13 Oct 2022
It’s the little things that championship teams do.
Jose Altuve with an amazing defensive play to save a run. Yordan Alvarez with a great defensive play to save a run.
And then there is Jeremy Pena. Yes, Alvarez did it again with a two-run bomb. Kyle Tucker also blasted one. Both were huge as Mariners ace Luis Castillo was dealing. Alvarez’s home run gave the Astros a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish in a 4-2 victory. At the heart of it once again – the secret hero – was the Astros rookie shortstop.
On Tuesday, his clutch piece of hitting with two outs kept the Astros alive for Alvarez’s heroics. It got lost in the excitement of Alvarez’s walk-off, but that moment would have never happened without Pena.
The little things.
On Thursday, he did it again. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, two outs. Pena popped a ball between two players to get a much-needed hit. That gave Alvarez a chance. And once again, he came through with a two-run homer to give the Astros the lead.
Again, it does not happen without Pena. There’s an old adage in baseball. All you need is a bloop and a bomb. Pena was the bloop. Alvarez the bomb. Alvarez may be Batman. But Pena is one heck of a Robin.
The rookie shortstop is the second-biggest reason the Astros are up 2-0 headed to Seattle, one win away from the next big step. They were able to beat Mariners ace Castillo, who pitched better than his seven-inning, five-hit, three-run effort would show. He struck out seven, but the two homers were too much.
The Astros bullpen bailed out Framber Valdez, who pitched OK allowing two runs in 5 2/3rd innings. He got out of a couple of jams thanks to his defense. The bullpen took it from there with some big clutch outs.
The little things.
Pena’s smooth defense was a big part of this as well. In the eighth, he added an insurance run with yet another clutch small thing. He drew a two-out walk. Alvarez was then intentionally walked (good move, Mariners). Then Alex Bregman – a pretty good postseason star himself – came through with a big hit, scoring Pena. That doesn’t happen without Pena. That clutch hit was the little thing they needed. That walk was the little thing needed. Those are things championship teams need.
Welcome to a championship team, Jeremy Pena. Keep doing the little things.