MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — Playing nearly 500 miles from Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros felt right at home for their first ever regular season game in Mexico.
Alex Bregman hit two of Houston’s five home runs and the Astros broke out the bats in a big way, routing the Los Angeles Angels 14-2 Saturday night.
Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and George Springer also homered for Houston in the opener of a two-game series in Mexico.
After totaling just four runs in losing their previous two games to Minnesota, the Astros teed off at the raucous Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey.
“For me it*s the second time in Mexico,” Bregman said. “I played in Lagos de Moreno (Jalisco), when I was 15, I also have played in Colombia and Cuba. The fans have so much fun out there, the atmosphere was great, every play felt like it was the playoffs. The fans showed their love for the game. We were blessed to play in front of a crowd like that.”
Most of the 18,117 fans that showed for the game wore Houston*s colors and roared at almost every at-bat. Combined with the PA system blasting Latin music at every opportunity, it created a fiesta-like atmosphere.
“I wasn*t surprised because our fans travel well and we are an easy team to like, I saw a lot of throwback jerseys out there, we saw fans all over the city at our hotel, everywhere, so the atmosphere was great, I think the party is still going on,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “We put a lot of energy out there, a lot of our players play winter ball and they responded well to the environment.”
Albert Pujols hit a solo homer for the Angels, who had won four in a row. He now has 1,999 career RBIs.
Wade Miley (2-2) allowed two runs in six innings. Trevor Cahill (1-3) was tagged for six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Bregman hit a solo homer in the first inning and added a three-run shot in the eight. Springer hit his 10th homer and Brantley drove in four runs.
The Angels and Astros both played a regular season game in Mexico for the first time. Both teams had played exhibition games in the country.
Major League Baseball has committed to bring games south of the border until 2021.
“I think it*s great that Major League (Baseball) decide to put Mexico as part of their schedule,” Hinch said. “It*s great to bring our players here. I can*t thank the fans enough for showing us their love for the game.”
Besides reliever Roberto Osuna, who was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Astros president and general manager Jeff Luhnow is also Mexican, making the trip to this city a special occasion for both of them.
While he was a young prospect, Osuna lived in El Carmen, Nuevo Leon, just 20 miles north of the Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey, where his father pitched for five seasons for the home team Sultanes.
“They just gave me a picture from the time I was in the (baseball) academy, I got a lot of memories, every player wants to go to the majors and I never imagined that the majors will bring me back to Mexico,” Osuna said. “I also have seen photos and video from the time my father played here so it’s going to be very special.”
Luhnow stayed in Mexico City until the 10th grade when he moved to the United States.
“It’s a pleasure to be in a country where I was born,” Luhnow said in Spanish.
Cahill and Miley became the first major league pitchers to make regular season starts in four different countries. Cahill and Miley started games when Arizona played the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia in 2014 and they also have starts in the United States and Canada.
RACKING UP WINS
With the victory against the Angeles, Hinch reached 393 wins with the Astros, breaking a tie with Art Howe for third place in franchise history. Hinch trails Larry Dierker (435) and Bill Virdon (544) on the Astros’ list.
Angels: RHP Matt Harvey (1-2, 6.54 ERA) earned his first win of the season after tossing seven innings and allowing two hits and one run against Kansas City on April 28.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.45 ERA) absorbed his first loss of the season in his last start, allowing just two hits and a run against the Twins on April 29.
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