This was the much anticipated second career start for the surprising and promising young Astros starter Corbin Martin. The same Corbin Martin who blew away the powerful Texas Rangers lineup in his first start. Could he repeat his excellence in his second start against the World Champions?
Sadly, the answer was no, but he struggled through anyway, and was good enough. Instead another rookie, Josh James, made a breakthrough tonight, overcoming his early season troubles and overwhelming the powerful Sox, holding them scoreless for three innings.
Luckily, the Astros gave the shaky Martin an early lead. In a season that so far sees the Astros as one of the mightiest slugging teams in history, in the first inning the Astros have been hitting only .235., and are only 17th in run production. But tonight they unloaded in the first, scoring five runs off losing pitcher Hector Velezquez.
It started with a George Springer triple off the center field wall, not a homer this time, followed by an Alex Bregman walk and a Michael Brantley double, just beyond the outstretched arms of Mookie Betts off the right field wall. With one run scored, Carlos Correa walked, and then Josh Reddick hit a sacrifice fly to score Alex Bregman and record the first out of the inning. Here’s a picture of George on third base.
Michael Brantley would score on a Yuli Gurriel single, and then the fourth and fifth runs of the inning, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, would score on a Tyler White double into the right field corner.
Here’s White’s double.
Corbin Martin would not make these runs seem safe, although he managed to wriggle out of trouble at every turn and hold the lead. In the first inning he walked the bases loaded, and would have managed to escape without allowing a run except for a Max Stassi passed ball. But Martin got out of the jam with a fly out by Rafael Devers to end the inning.
Martin got himself in more trouble in the third by walking Mookie Betts, who scored on a Mitch Moreland double. In the fourth inning a Red Sox runner, Michael Chavis, was thrown out at second trying to extend a single. Luckily for Martin and the Astros, because the next hitter, Christian Vazquez homered, a 311 foot dink job just over the right field fence next to the foul pole.
With the Astros winning 7-3, thanks to a Josh Reddick homer in the top of the fifth, the Red Sox seemed poised to challenge for the lead in their half of the inning. Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts started the frame with singles, bringing up J.D. Martinez.
Corbin Martin was not sharp at all last night. He allowed five hits and four walks in four innings. He had no strikeouts, compared to the nine he accrued against the Rangers in his first start. He threw 74 pitches, only 38 for strikes. The Red Sox swung and missed on only two of those. He had seemingly no confidence in the change up, a pitch he used so effectively against the Rangers, throwing it only 7 times, and only twice for strikes. Luckily, the Red Sox managed only a .267 BABIP against Martin, despite hitting eight hard hit balls in his four innings. His FIP for the game was 9.37. Still he escaped allowing only three runs, two earned.
This play by Carlos Correa was one reason the Red Sox had trouble scoring.
With runners on first and second, A.J Hinch sent in another rookie to stop the damage in the fifth, also highly rated, but having an erratic season, Josh James. James got his first batter, the super dangerous J.D. Martinez, to fly out, but true to form, James walked the next batter to load the bases with one out. But he struck out Astros nemesis Xander Bogaerts, and then induced a ground out by Rafael Devers to end the inning, stranding three base runners, including the two he inherited from Martin.
James threw two more perfect innings before handing the ball to Will Harris, who then gave it to closer Roberto Osuna, both of whom pitched perfectly in the eighth and ninth innings respectively.
The Astros have won ten straight, and hope to sweep the series against the reigning World Champions tomorrow. They are only the second team in history to have two ten game winning streaks before June first.
Wade Miley takes the mound for the Astros against Boston ace, Chris Sale. Game time 12:05 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.