Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
HOUSTON – The Houston Astros are enjoying the best start in franchise history, although losses in six of their last eight contests – including four of the first five of their nine-game homestand – have taken a bit of the luster off the accomplishment. Houston responded with 19 hits in a 13-2 rout in its last outing and looks to ride that momentum into Friday’s opener of a three-game set versus the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Jose Altuve answered a pedestrian stretch in which he batted .216 in his previous 10 games by collecting three hits and three runs scored in Wednesday’s triumph over Texas. The two-time American League batting champion has turned it up against Boston, batting .342 in his career versus the club and 5-for-12 against Friday starter Drew Pomeranz. While the Astros are comfortable atop the AL West, the Red Sox failed to make up ground on the first-place New York Yankees in the East on Thursday after being shut out for the sixth time this season with a 1-0 setback to Philadelphia. Mitch Moreland is riding a nine-game hitting streak despite dealing with a reported fractured left big toe.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), ROOT Sports Southwest (Houston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.48 ERA) vs. Astros RH Mike Fiers (4-2, 4.29)
Pomeranz was pummeled in his last outing on Sunday, allowing six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-3 setback to Detroit. The 28-year-old had pitched significantly better during his previous three starts, permitting a total of five runs and 17 hits while striking out 26 in 18 innings to win all three outings. Pomeranz will look to get back on track versus Houston, against which he is 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in 10 career appearances.
Fiers recorded arguably his best start of the season on Saturday, extending his winning streak to three straight starts after allowing one unearned run on two hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-1 triumph versus the Los Angeles Angels. The 32-year-old struck out eight for the second time in three outings and kept the ball in the park in each of his last three. Fiers has worked at least six innings in four of five home starts this season.
1. Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia saw his string of five consecutive multi-hit performances end on Thursday, but is batting .400 in his career in 28 games versus Houston.
2. Astros RF George Springer has 11 multi-hit performances in his last 18 contests.
3. Houston owns an 8-2 mark versus AL East representatives while Boston is 6-4 against AL West foes.