Jeremy Pena got big hits to set up the guys behind him before he got the biggest hit of his career in game three.
When Carlos Correa left in free agency the question was how will rookie Jeremy Pena perform having to fill the shoes of the best shortstop in Astros history.
Not only was Correa the best shortstop in team history, he also has some of the most clutch hits in the postseason all-time. He’s tied for the most walk-off hits in playoff history with David Ortiz at three.
Pena had his work cut out for him.
He started the regular season hot, then slumped during the summer before coming around at the end of the year after permanently moving into the two spot in the lineup.
The question then became how will Pena perform in October compared to his predecessor. So far he’s come up as big as the Astros could have hoped.
While he didn’t have THE hit that won the game until game three, he certainly kept innings alive with two out hits that set the table for Alvarez and Bregman to crush the spirits of the Seattle Mariners.
While Pena could work on his walk rate and propensity to chase breaking balls off the plate, his ability to get the bat to the ball has served him well this postseason and his power seems legit. It’s weird to think that Pena was considered a glove first shortstop when he was coming up as a prospect but that may have been before Pena put on enough muscle to look like a middle linebacker.
Regardless the success of the Astros in the first round depended just as muchon Pena getting on base to extend innings as Alvarez and Bregman driving him in.
Without those hits Alvarez would have been relegated to leading off innings with no one on sapping his ability to affect games the way he does.
If Pena can continue to come up with heartbreaking hits the Astros will be just fine in the ALCS, especially if Altuve gets it going in front of him.