The Houston Astros could not solve the riddle of the Boston Red Sox’s bullpen in a series-opening loss, so they promptly made it a non-issue the very next night by roughing up the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. The Astros look to string together consecutive victories for the first time since putting the final touches on their 11-game winning streak early last week when they host the Red Sox on Sunday for the rubber match of their three-game set.
Houston (46-23) moved to 42-16 on June 5 before watching the longest winning streak in the majors get snapped the following night at Kansas City - a setback that began a 3-7 tailspin for the team with the best record in baseball. The most recent of the Astros’ losses over that stretch was Friday’s 2-1 defeat as Boston’s relievers worked 2 2/3 solid frames to extend their scoreless streak to 24 innings, but Houston tagged Rick Porcello for seven runs in Saturday’s 7-1 triumph. Jose Altuve, who is 7-for-10 with four doubles, a homer and five runs scored over his last three contests, sparked a pair of three-run innings with an RBI double in the first and a solo blast in the third. Despite the loss, Boston’s bullpen stretched its scoreless streak to 26 frames - the longest such run in the majors this season.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH David Price (1-1, 5.09 ERA) vs. Astros RH Joe Musgrove (4-5, 4.81)
Price rebounded from a rough outing to deliver a quality start in his first home turn of the season Tuesday, yielding three runs on four hits and four walks across six frames against Philadelphia. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner has allowed at least one home run in each start and struggled with free passes over his last two outings, issuing eight. Price won his only turn against the Astros last season, giving up one run in 6 2/3 innings, but he has struggled against Altuve (6-for-17) and Brian McCann (10-for-29, three homers).
Musgrove returned from a stint on the disabled list to suffer a loss against Texas on Monday after surrendering two runs on five hits and a walk in 4 2/3 frames. The 24-year-old enjoyed his finest turn of the season prior to his injury on May 26, throwing seven scoreless innings in a win versus Baltimore. Musgrove is only 2-5 with a 5.05 ERA at home in 2017 entering his first start against Boston - a far cry from the 3-1 record and 1.75 ERA he posted at Minute Maid Park in six late-season games (five starts) last year.
1. Astros DH Carlos Beltran clubbed a two-run homer on Saturday, joining Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre as the only active players with at least 430 career blasts.
2. Boston has not committed an error in a season-best five straight contests.
3. Houston MGR A.J. Hinch told reporters Saturday that RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (back) could start during the team’s seven-game road trip through Oakland and Seattle next week.
PREDICTION: Astros 5, Red Sox 4