Hous­ton Astros ham­mer Red Sox again, 8-2, in Game 2

Cor­rea homers, dou­bles and has 4 RBI

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

HOUS­TON — Car­los Cor­rea, Jose Al­tuve and the high-pow­ered Astros led the ma­jors in runs, hits and bat­ting av­er­age in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Now that it’s play­off time, Hous­ton is still ham­mer­ing away.

Cor­rea home­red, dou­bled and drove in four runs, Al­tuve got two more hits and the Astros bat­tered the Bos­ton Red Sox 8-2 Fri­day to take a com­mand­ing 2-0 lead in the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

Ge­orge Springer also home­red to back Dal­las Keuchel in Hous­ton’s sec­ond straight romp by the ex­act same score.

“One through nine, ev­ery­body can do dam­age, ev­ery­body can go deep,” Cor­rea said. “That’s the good thing about our lineup, there’s no holes in our lineup, and we feel very con­fi­dent no mat­ter if we went 0 for 4 the day be­fore or if we went 4 for 4.”

The Astros will go for a sweep in the best-of-five matchup Sun­day at Fen­way Park, a year af­ter Bos­ton was swept in the ALDS by Cleve­land. Brad Pea­cock (13-2) starts for Hous­ton against Doug Fis­ter (5-9).

“We couldn’t re­ally script it any bet­ter,” Keuchel said.

A day af­ter Al­tuve hit three home runs in the play­off opener, he got things go­ing with a two-out sin­gle in the first in­ning off Drew Pomer­anz. Cor­rea, who went 0 for 4 on Thurs­day, made it 2-0 when he launched a tow­er­ing shot onto the train tracks atop left field. “For me if he’s not No. 1, he’s No. 2 in the league,” Al­tuve said of Cor­rea, of­ten re­fer­ring to him as his lit­tle brother. “One of the best play­ers, I’m re­ally happy to have him on my team. Be­lieve it or not I have learned from him.”

Keuchel pitched into the sixth, al­low­ing one run and three hits while strik­ing out seven to im­prove to 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in three ca­reer post­sea­son starts.

Af­ter Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI sin­gle in the Bos­ton sec­ond, the Astros started to break away.

Springer hit his first post­sea­son homer when he sent the sec­ond pitch of the third in­ning into the front row of the seats in right field.

So is Red Sox man­ager John Far­rell sur­prised that the se­ries has been this lop­sided so far?

“They’re very good, they’re deep, and they have got a num­ber of ways to beat you,” he said. “So we fully re­spect and un­der­stood the op­po­nent, and they’re play­ing like that.”

A dou­ble by Alex Breg­man set up an RBI sin­gle by Al­tuve later in the third, mak­ing it 4-1 and end­ing Pomer­anz’s first ca­reer post­sea­son start af­ter two re­lief ap­pear­ances. The lefty kept his head down as he trudged to­ward the du­gout af­ter be­ing lifted.

“Any mis­take that we’ve made these past two games, they’ve made us pay for them,” Pomer­anz said. “It’s play­off base­ball, and these guys have come out swing­ing.”

David Price, the starter-turned-re­liever with the $217 mil­lion con­tract, pitched 2 2⁄3 score­less in­nings for the Red Sox. Fol­low­ing his exit, Hous­ton tacked on four runs in the sixth.

A two-out in­ten­tional walk to Al­tuve, the ma­jor league bat­ting cham­pion this sea­son, led to a tworun dou­ble by Cor­rea . The top over­all pick in the 2012 draft and crown jewel of Hous­ton’s years­long re­build­ing project raised his hands in de­light and mo­tioned for the crowd to get louder as he stopped at sec­ond base.

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts had an er­ror that looked like it was pulled from a blooper reel ear­lier in the sixth when he caught a fly ball by Breg­man then sim­ply lost the ball as he tried to throw it back in. Betts looked con­fused as the ball drib­bled away from him and he was charged with an er­ror, al­low­ing a run to score.

“I’m not even sure how it

hap­pened,” Betts said. “I messed up.”

Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award win­ner, known as much for his beard as his dev­as­tat­ing sinker, was cheered on by Hous­ton’s other fa­mous bearded su­per­star as Rock­ets guard James Harden watched from a front-row seat be­hind home plate.

Keuchel’s fa­ther, Den­nis, also was in at­ten­dance and mul­ti­ple tele­vi­sion shots showed him look­ing a mix­ture of ex­cited and ner­vous as he gazed at his son’s work.

The left-han­der had trou­ble set­tling in early and af­ter need­ing 30 pitches to get through the sec­ond in­ning, it looked like this start might be a short one. But he struck out the last two bat­ters of that in­ning as the first of 13 straight he re­tired.

Keuchel ex­ited to a stand­ing ova­tion af­ter walk­ing Han­ley Ramirez with two outs in the sixth in­ning.

Al­tuve, who hit .346 this year, kept pun­ish­ing pitch­ers. Af­ter sin­gling in his first two trips to the plate, giv­ing him five hits in the se­ries, the Red Sox had seen enough and in­ten­tion­ally walked him in the fourth. That drew a loud cho­rus of boos from the home crowd, which greeted Al­tuve with a stand­ing ova­tion in his first at-bat.

Far­rell was asked if the fourth in­ning was too early to in­ten­tion­ally walk Al­tuve.

“No, he’s been dy­na­mite,” he said. “You pick your poi­son. He’s an ex­tremely hot, ex­tremely good hit­ter. Felt like we were go­ing to move on and go to the next guy.”

Many fans held signs say­ing that Al­tuve should be this sea­son’s MVP and one be­hind home plate pro­claimed in sparkly multi-col­ored let­ters: “Al­tuve, He’s Pretty Good.”

Bos­ton also gave him a free pass in the sixth in­ning, but had to pitch to him in the sev­enth with the bases loaded and two outs. Austin Mad­dox, who gave up Al­tuve’s third homer on Thurs­day, jumped into the air and pumped his fist af­ter strik­ing him out.

It didn’t mat­ter much. Even with the strike­out, his av­er­age in the se­ries is .714.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Betts said his wrist flared up on a swing in the eighth in­ning but that he’s OK.

“It’s go­ing to take some time to heal, but we don’t have that kind of time right now,” he said.

HURRICANE MARIA RE­LIEF

Cor­rea, who is from Puerto Rico, has part­nered with Astros owner Jim Crane to char­ter a plane filled with wa­ter, food and other sup­plies to de­liver to the is­land on Sun­day to help those af­fected by Hurricane Maria.

“Ob­vi­ously a lot of peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from hunger and they’re go­ing through tough times right now, so I just want to bring a lit­tle bit of help over there,” Cor­rea said.

UP NEXT

Fis­ter (5-9, 4.88 ERA), who pitched for the Astros last sea­son, will start for Bos­ton in Game 3 on Sun­day against Pea­cock (13-2, 3.00 ERA), who will be mak­ing his post­sea­son de­but.

Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Bos­ton Red Sox start­ing pitcher Drew Pomer­anz (31) re­acts af­ter leav­ing the game in the third in­ning of Game 2 of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park on Fri­day, Oct. 6, 2017, in Hous­ton. ( Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle )

Ron­ald Martinez / Getty Im­ages

Hous­ton’s Ge­orge Springer cel­e­brates af­ter hit­ting a solo home run in the third in­ning against Bos­ton.

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