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Astros' Fab Four gets it done

Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

HOUSTON -- One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

The entire Houston Astros' lineup is capable. Their 2017 offense was one of the most productive this sport has ever seen. Their No. 8 hitter Sunday batted in more runs than any of his teammates this season.

But their four best hitters are their top four hitters: George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. And, from innings four through seven in Sunday's frenzied fifth game of the World Series, those men made one out, building higher and higher off of one another's efforts.

"They're pretty awesome," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We like to talk about tandem at-bats. And when those guys get going, we're relentless."

In that stretch, the foursome batted 12 times and reached base 11 times. They produced three walks, three singles, two doubles and three homers. Their efforts allowed the Astros to mount a four-run comeback, one they ultimately squandered. Of course, it was one of those four, Bregman, who delivered the winning hit in Houston's 13-12 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, pouncing on a first-pitch cutter from Kenley Jansen.

And it was another, Springer, who set it up by patiently drawing a walk.

Both of those were themes throughout the game: patience and aggressiveness, juxtaposed. They waited out some Dodgers pitchers, and waited no time at all on others. There was little in between.

Three of the four men were supposed to do this. This was the exact purpose of the unsightly stretch the city of Houston endured for so long, the tank the Astros executed. Be bad, collect high picks, be good eventually. Being bad is good.

Springer was the 11th overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, Correa, the first choice in 2012, Bregman the second selection in 2015. Altuve is the great outlier, the $15,000 sign, the future most valuable player.

The oldest of the men is 28 years old. Only payroll restrictions could prevent these Astros from being one of this sport's biggest threats for years to come. That's not a surprise to American League observers or to the Dodgers. Their manager, Dave Roberts, has resorted to the same steady compliment throughout this World Series.

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