Game two between the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox was pretty much a repeat of Game One. The Astros took the early lead. The Red Sox threatened. The starting pitchers struggled. The Astros hit a couple of homers. The Astros won 8-2, just as on Thursday. The Astros lead the best-of-five playoff series with the Red Sox by a 2-0 margin. The teams now head off to Boston for Game Three on Sunday. It could all end there if Brad Peacock can shut down the Red Sox.
CARLOS CORREA: The Boston Red Sox got tired of Jose Altuve hitting home runs, so the decision was made to walk to Altuve to face Correa. All that Correa did on Friday was go two-for-four, hitting a home run and a double, scoring twice and knocking in four of Houston's eight runs. So that whole walk-Altuve-to-face-Correa strategy backfired. Correa went hitless in Game One, so breaking out on Friday and lighting up the Red Sox pitchers will put even more pressure on a struggling roster that is finding it very hard to get easy outs against the Astros lineup.
GEORGE SPRINGER: Springer went hitless from the leadoff spot in Game One, but he more than made up for that Friday. Springer’s third-inning home run put the Astros up 3-1, and he scored in the fifth inning on Correa’s double. He also hit a double. The Astros are a dangerous offense with guys who can hit up and down the lineup.
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Keuchel’s game was a bit like that of Justin Verlander on Thursday. Keuchel struggled early, throwing lots of pitches and being lucky to get through the second inning having given up just one run. Keuchel left the game after 5 2/3 innings, and the final stat line was rather surprising, knowing how it started out, as he gave up just three hits and one run while striking out seven.
DAVID PRICE: Price was once one of the game’s elite starting pitchers, but he’s had a disappointing tenure in Boston. He’s been relegated to the bullpen for this playoff series, and it’s from the bullpen that he emerged on Friday in the bottom of the third inning with one out and the bases loaded. Price was able to induce pop-outs from Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez to end the Astros scoring threat, then pitched two more scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, becoming the only Red Sox pitcher of the series to be able to shut down the Astros offense.
THE DFAS (Designated for Assignment)
DREW POMERANZ: Pomeranz was 17-6 for the Red Sox during the regular season, and he’s clearly the team’s second-best starter behind Chris Sale. But Pomeranz was rocked by the Astros on Friday. He gave five hits, two home runs and four runs in just two innings on the mound. Sale struggled on Thursday, but he was able to keep the Red Sox in the game. Pomeranz's struggles made Sale’s performance look like a walk in the park.
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MOOKIE BETTS: Betts is one of the most important players for the Red Sox — they’re not going to compete in this series if he doesn’t find a way to break out. He had one hit in four trips to the plate on Friday, but it’s in the field that he helped the Astros. He caught an Alex Bregman fly ball in foul territory. Marwin Gonzalez, who was on third base for Houston, acted as if he was breaking for home. Betts grabbed the ball from his glove and proceeded to drop it on the ground as he attempted to throw to home plate, thus allowing Gonzalez to score and put the Astros up 5-1.
RED SOX PITCHING: The Astros' pitching was supposed to be the team’s weak point and it was supposed to be Boston’s strength. But while Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel did struggle, they did not get beat up, and they did not force A.J. Hinch to make excessive use of his bullpen. The Red Sox starters have struggled mightily, as has Boston's bullpen. Having a weapon like Craig Kimbrel to close games is utterly meaningless if he never gets to pitch when it counts.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Sunday’s Game Three is at 1:30 Central Time. If there is a Game Four, it will be played at noon Houston time. If there is a Game Five, it is scheduled for 3:00 Central. It’s nice to have playoff games during the day, but making the Astros play all five games during the day really makes it difficult for Astros fans to watch the games, especially with all three of the games in Houston scheduled during the middle of the workday. The Yankees might be bringing in bigger TV ratings, but don’t Houston fans deserve some chance of being able to watch a game without having to miss work?
The Astros lead the series 2-0. Brad Peacock gets the start for Houston on Sunday at 1:30 when he faces former Astros starter Doug Fister for Boston. The game will once again air on FS1. Charlie Morton will start Game Four for Houston, if needed.