The Astros took over where they left off in last night’s slugfest. Although the bats cooled off later in the game, six runs on nine hits was more than enough to beat the Red Sox behind solid pitching from rookie J.P. France.
It started with back-to-back jacks by Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. It was not a typical Alvarez moonshot. His ball was only in the air 3.3 seconds, just fair at 113 MPH, 334 feet down the right-field line.
In the bottom of the first, nifty outfield glove work by Mauricio Dubon and Kyle Tucker kept the Red Sox off the board.
However, some sloppy glove work may have cost Astros starter J.P. France a run in the third. With runners on first and third and one out, Justin Turner hit a grounder to Alex Bregman, but Bregman airmailed the throw to Altuve. It would have been a close relay play at first, but if there had been a double play, the runner at third would not have scored.
On the next play, Bregman redeemed himself with a beautiful (and rare) 5-6-3 double play to hold the Red Sox to one run.
Boston’s usual defensive sloppiness contributed to the Astros’ next run in the fifth. A throwing error by third baseman Rafael Devers put Dubon on first, who then stole second. Dubon went to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a Bregman single.
The Astros added two more runs in the sixth on a Mauricio Dubon double that scored Jose Abreu and Yainer Diaz from first, who craftily evaded a tag at home.
Diaz got on base on a walk, his third in the series. With continued improvement in his pitch selection, no telling what his ceiling is. And yes, add speed and baserunning skills to his toolkit.
Nothing and nobody seems to be able to contain Boston’s red-hot Adam Duvall, AL player of the week, sporting a nine-game hitting streak with seven homers during that time. That includes a solo shot in the sixth that sent France to the showers. It was the fifth homer by DuVall against the Astros in their last six games.
The Astros added an insurance run in the seventh with a one-out Bregman single, an Alvarez double off the Monster, and an RBI fielder’s choice by Jose Abreu that could have been a hit.
Rafael Montero finished France’s sixth inning and escaped damage in the seventh despite putting runners on first and second. He ended the inning by whiffing Rafael Devers on a 3-2 count on the seventh pitch.
Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu held the Sox in the eighth, although Abreu walked two pitching in light rain.
Michael Brantley played tonight, and the box score shows he was 0-4. But in all four of his plate appearances, he hit balls classified as hard hit, 104, 98, 99, and 102 MPH.
It was also a good bounceback performance by starter France. He went 5.2 IP, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk with three Ks.
The Astros tied their all-time four-game hit total with nine tonight, totaling 66 in the last four games.
Tonight’s hitting was led by Bregman and Alvarez, who each had three hits. In this series, Alvarez is 7 - 9 with two walks and two homers.
Framber Valdez goes for the sweep tomorrow. Early game, 3:10 CT.
At the time of this writing, the Rangers won their game against the Mets, while the As lead the Mariners in the fourth inning 3-0
editors note: The As held on to beat the Mariners 3-1. There is a virtual three-way tie for first in the AL West.