BOSTON – (Staff Report from Fenway Park) – The Houston Astros have Boston’s number and they’ve had it for five of their last six regular season games at Fenway Park, never mind last year’s American League playoffs (ALDS). The Astros continued that outright domination of the Red Sox in Boston this afternoon with a 5-3 victory, their second straight in this late-season series between potential 2018 playoff foes.
Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa of Houston Astros
Houston sent Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez packing for his earliest exit of the season and shortest outing since his first start of the year, a 3.2 inning, no decision effort against Tampa Bay on April 8th. Rodriguez threw 78 pitches with 49 of them being strikes, allowing six hits, five earned runs, with three walks and four strike-outs. He allowed the two Houston home runs.
Rodriguez’ rough day started when shortstop Carlos Correa doubled to card the first hit of the day for the Astros and DH Tyler White followed it up with a hard-hit triple just out of the reach of Boston’s gold-glove centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. some 377-feet from home plate. White scored from 3B on a Jake Marisnick sacrifice fly ball.
In the 3rd inning, Houston third baseman and MVP candidate Alex Bregman hit his 30th home run of the season, a solo shot hit some 376 feet to left-center field. Astros catcher Martin Maldonado led-off the 4th inning with a solo-HR of his own, his ninth of the year. Bregman has homered in four of his eight career games at Fenway.
Rightfielder and lead-off hitter George Springer walked and scored Houston’s fifth run on a Yuli Gurriel RBI single.
Maldonado went 2-for-3 with a walk on the day, along with his run scored, homer and RBI. He is batting .304 (14-of-46) with eight runs, 2 doubles, four HRs and seven RBI over his last 17 games.
Boston put the first run of the game on the scoreboard when shortstop Xander Bogaerts singled-in right-fielder Mookie Betts in the bottom of the first inning. Betts scored for the 112th time this season, good enough for second in the majors. Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with the run scored and two RBI on the day.
Houston starter Charlie Morton (14-3) went 5.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with two walks and three strike-outs. He threw 94 pitches with 60 strikes and offered up a lone Xander Bogaerts home run in the 5th inning. Morton earned his 14th victory.
Roberto Osuna was credited with the save, his 15th of the season and sixth with the Astros. The Red Sox had Osuna on the ropes in the bottom of the 9th inning when pinch hitter Blake Swihart singled to left field, Betts earned a walk and both runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd base on a wild pitch. Swihart scored on an Andrew Benintendi RBI single through the hole at short and J.D. Martinez stepped up to bat as the potential game-winner.
Martinez, however, grounded into a game-ending double play, Correa-to-Altuve-to-Gurriel to send the Fenway faithful to the exits and thousands of Astros fans who made the trip headed out to Landsdowne and Jersey Streets with another big win.
Houston is (89-53) and lead Oakland (86-57) in the AL West by 3.5 games. If the season ended today, Oakland would play at the New York Yankees in a one-game wild card playoff, while Boston, Cleveland and Houston would advance to divisional playoff play.
Rodriguez (12-4) took the loss for Boston.
GAME NOTES: In the series finale on Sunday night (8:05pm-ET on ESPN), Boston will start Rick Porcello (16-7, 4.20 ERA) while Houston will throw LHP Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.46 ERA) …Bregman’s 4th inning home run, his 30th of the season, added to his MLB-leading tally of extra base hits (XBH). He now has 79 XBH with 48 doubles, 30 HRs and a triple. In his 343 MLB games, Bregman has 57 HRs, 100 2Bs and 202 RBI. According to STATS, he is the fourth fastest batter (since 1920) to reach the 50-HR/100 2B/200 RBI mark. …