HOUSTON (AP)Alec Bohm got over the fear of failure long before getting to the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. The young third baseman has come a long way since one miserable night in the field early this season.
”All that stuff kind of went out the window after that happened,” Bohm said Saturday before Game 2 against Houston.
That was back in the fourth game of the season, when Bohm made a throwing error in each of the first three innings of a home game, and there was still uncertainty if the job was his. There was also the postgame apology to fans after cameras caught him deriding Philadelphia with an expletive.
The 26-year-old Bohm is now the youngest starting third baseman in a postseason for the Phillies since Willie ”Puddin’ Head” Jones in the 1950 World Series. He had a two-run double and five flawless fielding chances during Philadelphia’s 10-inning victory in Game 1.
Asked on Saturday how he simply let things go out the window after that April 11 game, Bohm said, ”Because I messed up about as bad as you can mess up, so I’ve done it before.”
He said he realized the ball was going to be hit his way, and he was either going to make the play or not, and couldn’t be worried about if he was going to make a mistake.
”Once that kind of just subsided, I freed up and was just playing instead of trying,” said Bohm, who had 10 errors over his final 138 games during the regular season while hitting .280 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs.
”This kid has improved more in one year than any other player I’ve ever had,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. ”And it’s not just physically, you know, his footwork, his glove work, his throwing action, his throwing accuracy. But it’s mentally and emotionally. If he makes a mistake now, he moves on. Where before it might take two or three days to come out of it.”
Houston became the first team to begin a World Series game with three consecutive extra-base hits.
Jose Altuve and rookie Jeremy Pena doubled on the first two pitches from Phillies starter Zack Wheeler in the bottom of the first inning. Yordan Alvarez lofted a double off the left-field wall on an 0-1 delivery, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead in Game 2 after four pitches by Wheeler.
FACE TO FACE
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, head of the players’ union, spoke with each other on the field during batting practice along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.
Manfred and Clark did not appear together to announce the lockout settlement in March. They chose instead to hold separate news conferences after the end of the 99-day lockout.
MOTIVATING THE MOTIVATOR
After the Houston Astros dropped Game 1 of the World Series, their first loss this postseason, minor league player Darren Baker was the voice of reason for his father.
”He says, `Dad, you guys won seven in a row.’ He says, `You’re bound to lose one. If you thought that you were going to win 11 in a row,’ which I was hoping,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
The 23-year-old Baker is a center fielder and second baseman in the Washington Nationals organization, and played in this year’s All-Star Futures Game. He is remembered as the 3 1/2-year-old bat boy for his dad’s Giants who was scooped out of harm’s way by J.T. Snow during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.
”So it’s pretty cool, really, to have a young man that’s – you know, because who motivates the motivator,” the elder Baker said. ”He’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders as far as like not panicking. I really didn’t want to hear it, but it was true.”
That prompted a question to Phillies manager Rob Thomson about who motivates him.
Thomson said there were a lot of people, but specifically mentioned the late Mark Newman, who used to run the New York Yankees farm system, and his junior college coach Dick Groch, the scout who signed Derek Jeter.
Thomson still speaks with Groch often. His best advice?
”Just be yourself. And that’s what I try to be,” said the 59-year-old Thomson, a baseball lifer who became a first-time big league manager in early June after the Phillies fired Joe Girardi.
Houston reliever Hector Neris knows the Philadelphia Phillies perhaps better than anyone on the Astros roster.
The right-hander spent his entire career in Philadelphia before joining the Astros this season. He played eight big league seasons for the Phillies after signing with them as an amateur in 2010.
”I spent 12 years for this team, my whole career,” he said. ”I (grew) up on this team. And then my first year in a different uniform and come to think about the World Series with the team I was supposed to face, this team, you know, it’s fun for me and pushes me forward to be good and do what I can do.”
Neris got the win in his playoff debut when Houston beat Seattle in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, and is 2-0 in six relief appearances this postseason. He also picked up the win in Game 4 of the ALCS that completed a sweep of the Yankees.
In Game 1 against his former team, Neris continued his strong postseason work by striking out Nick Castellanos with the bases loaded for the final out of the seventh inning.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports