It sure seems like the Houston Astros have this figured out. And it sure seems like, unless something changes drastically, the 2017 Boston Red Sox aren’t long for baseball’s postseason.
The Astros did Friday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series exactly what they would have hoped: They hit some more homers, beat up a number of Red Sox pitchers, got a solid start from Dallas Keuchel, turned it over the bullpen and went to the clubhouse with an 8-2 win and a 2-0 series lead.
The Red Sox will now head home to Boston in search of a lifeline. And in search of a way to get out Jose Altuve and the rest of the top of Houston’s lineup. He didn’t hit three homers like he did in Game 1, but Altuve was 2-for-3 with two intentional walks, an RBI and two runs scored. He’s hitting .714 in the series. Keuchel was rocky early, but settled down at the end of the second inning and retired 13 in a row before getting lifted in the sixth inning.
As for the Red Sox? They now haven’t won a postseason game since Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. That includes a sweep in the ALDS last year by the Indians and now this 0-2 hole in another ALDS.
The real question here is what Boston will do with its pitching. Ace Chris Sale got knocked around in Game 1. Drew Pomeranz, who had actually pitched well against the Astros this season, couldn’t get an out in the third inning this time. He allowed four runs on five hits before turning it over to the Red Sox bullpen, which had varying degrees of success against the mighty Astros offense.
So Game 3? The Astros have announced Brad Peacock as their starter. The Red Sox had previously named Doug Fister as their starter for when the series turns to Boston on Sunday. But will manager John Farrell stick with that in a do-or-die game?
It says something about the 2017 Red Sox if Fister is the option. They have David Price, whom they’re paying $30 this season, pitching out of the bullpen after injuries. (He actually looked pretty good in two innings Friday). And they have last year’s Cy Young winner Rick Porcello also pitching out of the bullpen after a cringe-worthy 11-17 record and 4.65 ERA.
Fister has been OK since the Red Sox picked him off waivers in June — he was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA, including an August in which he was 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA. But for the Red Sox, who had the “superteam” tag thrown on them when they got Sale, it sure seems odd to think the season will come down to Doug Fister starting an elimination game.
Frankly, though, he couldn’t do much worse than what the Red Sox have gotten so far. The Astros jumped on Pomeranz with a two-run Carlos Correa homer in the first. They added two more in the third, when George Springer homered and Altuve added an RBI single.
The sixth inning, though, is when everything went nuts. The Astros got a gift when Mookie Betts caught a fly ball to right and dropped it while trying to wind up a throw toward the plate. That allowed Marwin Gonzalez to tag up and score. That’s when everything unraveled and the Red Sox seemed completely overmatched. Correa hit a two-run double, Evan Gattis followed with a laser single to bring home Correa and it was 8-2, Houston.
The Red Sox didn’t have answers for any of Friday. Better find some by Sunday.
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