Sports | October 22, 2017 9:24 am

Behind the Astros Game-Changing Defensive Play That Led to Yankee Defeat in ALCS

Astros 3rd baseman Alex Bregman's play at the plate was no accident.

Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann tags out New York Yankees' Greg Bird at home during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann tags out New York Yankees' Greg Bird at home during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

As key as the Houston Astros bats were in Saturday night’s ALCS Game 7, leading to a 4-0 victory over the New York Yankees, the game-turning play really happened on the other side of the field.

It unfolded in the fifth inning, when Astros third baseman Alex Bregman fielded an infield dribbler off the bat of the Yanks’ Todd Frazier — and opted to make a risky throw home instead of an attempt at a double play at second and first. The result, a perfect throw to catcher Brian McCann, himself managing stay on the plate and hold on to the ball as runner Greg Bird slid into his glove, will go down in team lore.

But it wasn’t a random decision made in the heat of the moment.

As Yahoo! Sports details, Bregman made a very different decision in a game eight days before the end of the regular season. At the time Bregman fielded a similar one-hopper and threw to second in an attempt to get the double play.

The Astros, however, only got one out, and the runner on third scored.

“In the playoffs, you’d better throw that (expletive) ball home,” Hinch told Bergman, the player later recounted. “We preserve runs in the playoffs.”

“The ball off Todd Frazier’s bat took one hop more than Bregman expected,” wrote Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan.  “The window to throw to catcher Brian McCann’s glove was as narrow as a lollipop stick. Earlier in the season, he wouldn’t have dared try to make a throw like this.

‘Spring training, I couldn’t hit a guy in the chest to save my life,’ Bregman said. ‘I was trying to throw from over the top, everything. I was sailing it, throwing in the dirt.’”

In the biggest game of his budding career, though, he made the throw of his life. The Astros went into the bottom of the inning still holding a 1-0 lead — and then exploded for three more runs in the frame. So now the Los Angeles Dodgers get to see what Bregman and company can do.