MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Bregman hits slam on hero Jeter's big night

Bregman hits slam on hero Jeter's big night

NEW YORK -- Third baseman man Alex Bregman had an at-bat to remember on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. It was his first-inning grand slam that helped the Astros outslug the Yankees, 10-7, during the second game of a doubleheader.

To top it off, Bregman hit the slam in front of his idol, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who had his number retired between games of the doubleheader. Bregman wears No. 2 in honor of Jeter.

"I guess it was the No. 2 magic tonight," Bregman said after the game.

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Bregman, who was drafted No. 2 overall out of LSU in 2015, hit his first homer since Sept. 10, 2016 -- a span of 143 at-bats.

"We were joking with him that he needed to get a home run before National League games started because a pitcher might catch him," joked Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "He obviously needed that. He has been working really hard, and I know some of the ups and downs of how hard he is on himself. So for him to get a pitch ... that was a big punch for us."

Houston was already leading, 2-0, in the first inning when Bregman came to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs and right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the mound. On the first pitch he saw, Bregman sent the ball over the left-center-field fence for his first career grand slam.

Astros' early back-to-back jacks

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Bregman became the first player wearing jersey No. 2 to hit a grand slam at Yankee Stadium since Jeter on June 18, 2005, against the Cubs.

According to Statcast™, Bregman's homer traveled 430 feet. As he was running the bases, Bregman pointed at his number in honor of his mother, Jackie Bregman, who was in the stands. Jackie, a Long Island native, was the first in the family to admire Jeter, and her son followed in her footsteps. In fact, the family Labrador is named Jeter.

"It was always our dream to play in the big leagues, play in her home city. Watching her favorite team, watching her favorite player get his jersey retired, it's a pretty special moment," Bregman said.

In deference to Jeter, Bregman tried not to wear uniform No. 2 on Sunday night. But it would have taken the Astros a long time to get another uniform ready for game time.

"I tried not to. I got here this morning and I was asking the clubhouse guy if I could get a different jersey, but they only had one," Bregman said. "They would have had to make a full new jersey. But I was going to try and not wear 2 tonight to have that number not work. It's an honor to be on the same field as him."

Bregman grew up idolizing Jeter and met him several years ago at a tailgate party before an LSU-Alabama football game, but a conversation never took place. Bregman hopes to have a talk with Jeter one day.

Imagine what Bregman was thinking when he saw Jeter get his number retired before the second game. Bregman was in the dugout, letting the moment sink in.

"You watch all those moments that Jeter had for the Yankees," Bregman said. "You can tell by the fans' reaction how much he meant to them and how much he meant to the city, how much he meant to the game of baseball. You get chills watching those moments -- the flip, the home runs, the jump throws. It was a very special ceremony. It was really cool."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.